By Natural Philosopher Mike Prestwood
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The Evolution of the Holy Bible: 12 Bible Problems

By Mike Prestwood

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The purpose of this article is not to disparage the Bible, but to simply explore some of the more controversial parts. Although primitive, these wonderful historical documents are part of the rich history of human belief systems used both to explain unexplainable things and to guide the daily life of ancient humans. The explanation of unexplained things included both things that science has since uncovered, as well as things that are still unexplained.

 “The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive, legends which are nevertheless pretty childish.” –Albert Einstein, 1954.

Beliefs Evolve
Over time, values and beliefs are introduced and evolved. One can look at the whole of the Bible, or they can take only what they want out of it. Either way, it is important to understand the Bible was not written by God. It is a set of ancient writings put together three-plus centuries after the death of Christ. These stories were written by man, chosen by man, updated and altered by man, and translated with many variations by man. It was gathered and edited from a subset of stories that existed in an ignorant, superstitious, and cruel age. The Bible is an extremely important historical document, but it contains many errors and harmful teachings.

The Abrahamic Religions

An Abrahamic Religion is a religion that traces its lineage to the biblical figure of Abraham and shares a common historical and theological foundation. Abrahamic Religions have much in common, such as the Hebrew Bible which includes the Ten Commandments, the concept of monotheism, and the belief in a divine covenant. They each have their own sacred texts, rituals, and unique interpretations of the divine, but all stem from a shared historical and cultural context.

The divine covenant is a set of agreements between God and humans and are important to understanding modern religions. I have “WAY” over simplified here with a focus on three major Abrahamic religions. I’m painting a picture so you have a general idea of the three major religions, but keep in mind that every sect has their own beliefs, focuses, and traditions. What you are about to read is accurate, but tough. 

Noahic Covenant (2304 BCE): The agreement between God and Noah after the Great Flood was that God would never destroy the Earth with a flood again. God decided, or realized he was wrong for doing it, because he didn’t ask for anything in return–the Noahic Covenant did not impose specific obligations on humans. He, she, or it just said they wouldn’t do it again God also didn’t say he wouldn’t destroy it a different way either–the covenant does not address other methods of potential destruction. Well, that’s my reading. In the biblical narrative, God made this promise as a sign of mercy and commitment to humanity. There has been much interpretation of this promise, and interpretation is likely to continue.

Abrahamic Covenant (1900-1700 BCE): The agreement between God and Abraham was more complex. God promised to make Abraham the father of many nations and grant his descendants the Promised Land and a fruitful future in exchange for their faithfulness to God and a few other things too. Abraham and his descendants were expected to trust and obey God, no matter what. All male followers had to be circumcised–participate in genital mutilation. A horrific religious practice that is coming under more and more scrutiny as time rolls on. No polytheism too. They were also expected to uphold a high standard of moral conduct. This was before the Ten Commandments so God later clarified some of the rules with the Mosaic Covenant.

Mosaic Covenant (1446-1250 BCE): The agreement between God and specifically the Israelites through Moses, which includes the Ten Commandments and other laws is meant to govern the Israelites conduct and relationship with God. This agreement is limited to the Israelites including the modern Jewish community, but some modern Jewish sects, through their new interpretation, now say it includes everyone of faith, not just Jews. Christians respect the Mosaic Covenant but believe Jesus Christ struck a new agreement replacing the Mosaic Covenant in order to add Christians with faith to the deal. Muslims also respect the Mosaic Covenant, but the Quran is their ultimate source for guidance, superseding the messages and laws given to previous prophets, including the Mosaic Covenant. Like Christians, Muslims believe they have to convert as many souls to their cause in order to save them. You literally have to join them in order to receive salvation setting up a religious war between two huge communities both of which believe the only path to salvation is through them so they might as well kill each other to get you to their respective side because, what the hell, you’re going to hell any way. Meanwhile, the Jewish community doesn’t want you. They are the only ones that will be saved and it’s a somewhat closed religion. Converting to Judaism is much more difficult than converting to Islam or Christianity.

Davidic Covenant (1000 BCE): The agreement between God and King David in the Hebrew Bible, in which God promises that David’s dynasty will last forever and that a future messianic figure will come from his lineage. This covenant is significant in Judaism and Christianity, as both faiths anticipate the arrival of a messiah from the line of David. This is the source of a minor split of the three religions. Christians believe in a second coming of Jesus Christ and the end of the world. Muslims believe in a second coming of Christ, but that’s not quite the end, they are awaiting Mahdi, a prophesied redeemer, and the end of the world. Jews do not believe in either of those things, nor do they believe the world will end, per se. Jews are awaiting the arrival of the Messiah, and the term “end of days” refers to a future period of time when the Messiah, a human leader from the line of King David, will bring about a transformative era of peace, justice, and righteousness. The Messiah will restore the Jewish people to their homeland, and rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. Jews from around the world will return to Israel. The Messiah will usher in an era of universal peace, justice, and harmony, with no more war or suffering. In some Jewish traditions, there is a belief in the resurrection of the righteous dead, though this idea is not universally accepted among Jews.

New Covenant (30-33 CE): In Christianity, the New Covenant is established by Jesus Christ and represents a renewed relationship between God and humanity. This covenant transcends the Mosaic Covenant by offering salvation through faith in Jesus Christ and his teachings, rather than through adherence to the Mosaic Law. The New Covenant is believed to be inclusive of all people, regardless of their background, as long as they accept Jesus Christ as their savior and follow his teachings. Which beliefs and/or laws to follow causes tensions and at times explodes into war: Jews follow Mosaic Law, Muslims follow Sharia Law, and Christians follow Christian Law.

Covenant of Alast (610-632 CE): In Islam, the concept of a covenant is somewhat different from that found in Judaism and Christianity. The Islamic covenant, referred to as the Covenant of Alast, is considered to be a general agreement between God and humanity, rather than a specific agreement with a particular person or group of people. Although salvation is not explicitly mentioned, the broader understanding in Islam is that salvation is achieved through sincere faith in God, following His commandments as outlined in the Quran, and performing good deeds. In essence, the Covenant of Alast signifies an agreement between God and humanity, where salvation is attainable for those who are devoted to Islam and maintain righteous conduct.

The Hebrew Bible

Before we dive into some of the out dated material, let’s go over the origins, authors, and contributors to the Hebrew Bible as used by and conceived in the Abrahamic Religions of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, the Baha’i Faith, and the United Church of Christ (UCC).

The Hebrew Bible, also known as the Tanakh or the Old Testament, is a collection of sacred texts that forms the foundation of the Jewish faith and serves as a crucial source of religious teachings and inspiration for Christianity, Islam, the Baha’i Faith, and the UCC. Comprised of three main sections – the Torah (the Five Books of Moses), the Nevi’im (the Prophets), and the Ketuvim (the Writings) – the Hebrew Bible contains a diverse array of texts, including narratives, laws, poetry, wisdom literature, and prophetic writings.

The origins of the Hebrew Bible can be traced back to ancient Israelite culture, with its texts believed to have been written and compiled over a period of several centuries, spanning from approximately the 12th to the 2nd century BCE. The process of canonization, or the establishment of the official collection of sacred texts, took place gradually and was likely solidified by the end of the 2nd century CE. The specific authors and contributors to the Hebrew Bible remain a matter of scholarly debate, with many texts attributed to multiple authors or redactors who may have revised and edited the content over time.

The Hebrew Bible is a collection of texts written over approximately 1,000 years, spanning from the 12th to the 2nd century BCE. The texts originated from various cultures in the ancient Near East, including Israelite, Canaanite, and Babylonian, among others. The primary language of the Hebrew Bible is Biblical Hebrew, with some portions written in Biblical Aramaic.

The Hebrew Bible consists of 24 books and is traditionally believed to have been written by male authors. However, the Song of Songs (also known as the Song of Solomon or Canticles) is a unique book in the collection that features a more intimate, emotional tone and includes the voices of both male and female characters. While it is traditionally attributed to King Solomon, some scholars argue that it could have been written by a woman or multiple authors. The Song of Songs is a collection of love poems that celebrate the beauty and joy of romantic love. The possibility that it might have been written by a woman is based on its distinct style, focus on female experiences, and the prominence of the female voice throughout the text.

In the context of the Abrahamic religions, the Hebrew Bible plays a central role in shaping the religious beliefs and practices of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, the Baha’i Faith, and the UCC. For Judaism, the Hebrew Bible is the primary source of divine revelation and guidance, shaping the covenantal relationship between God and the Jewish people. In Christianity, the Hebrew Bible serves as the Old Testament, providing the foundation for the New Testament, which contains the teachings of Jesus Christ and the early Christian Church. While the Hebrew Bible is not directly part of the Islamic canon, many of its stories and figures are referenced in the Quran, and its teachings are generally considered compatible with Islamic beliefs. The Baha’i Faith, which emphasizes the unity of all religions, recognizes the significance of the Hebrew Bible and its contribution to the shared spiritual heritage of humanity. Similarly, the UCC, as a Christian denomination, acknowledges the importance of the Hebrew Bible in shaping its religious tradition and ethical values.

Now, in no particular order, some outdated topics in the Old Testament.

Issue 1: Jesus Christ’s Afterlife Beliefs

Our understanding of Jesus’ beliefs is based on interpretation and inference, not direct evidence.

The belief in the concept of afterlife realms such as Heaven and Hell have evolved tremendously over time. The concepts of a fiery Hell for the wicked, ruled by the supernatural Devil, and a Heaven for the righteous, ruled by God, emerged long after the time of Jesus Christ. It is important to understand that these concepts as we know them today were not necessarily a part of Jesus’s personal beliefs. They are based on Jesus’ teachings as recorded in the Gospels, which were written in a different cultural and historical context than Jesus’ own time, and they reflect the perspectives of their authors and the early Christian communities. This begs the question, what did Jesus believe? And, if Christians are to “follow the teachings of Jesus,” why do they believe something different? The short answer is interpretation. Our understanding of Jesus’ beliefs is limited by the fact that we do not have any writings from Jesus himself. Our understanding is based on interpretation and inference, not direct evidence. This is true for all historical figures, but especially for figures like Jesus, for whom we have no writings of their own.

What follows is the long answer: 

First, according to the New Testament: The understanding of Jesus’s beliefs about the afterlife is primarily derived from the Gospels in the New Testament of the Bible, which were written after his death but purported to convey his teachings. Based on these texts, we can glean some insights, although they do not provide a systematic and detailed account of the afterlife.

  • Kingdom of Heaven/God: Throughout the Gospels, Jesus frequently speaks of the “Kingdom of Heaven” or “Kingdom of God”. This appears to represent both a present spiritual reality and a future state. Some interpretations suggest it refers to a realm or state of existence where God’s will is perfectly done.
  • Resurrection: Jesus speaks of a resurrection of the dead. This is particularly evident in passages such as John 11:25 (written 60 to 80 years after Jesus1), where Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.”
  • Judgment: Jesus also presents a picture of a future judgment. In Matthew 25:31-46 (written 50 to 60 years after Jesus2), he tells the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, where the Son of Man (a term Jesus uses for himself) separates people as a shepherd separates sheep from goats. This implies a judgment based on deeds of compassion and kindness.
  • Eternal Life: Jesus also speaks of “eternal life” as the reward for those who believe in him. In John 3:16 (written 60 to 90 years after Jesus1), it is written, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
  • Hell: Jesus mentions “Gehenna”, often translated as “hell”, as a place of punishment. For example, in Matthew 10:28 (written 50 to 60 years after Jesus2), he says, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

It’s important to note that interpretations of these teachings vary widely. Some Christians interpret these teachings literally, while others view them as metaphorical. Furthermore, many scholars caution against reading later theological concepts back into Jesus’s words. Concepts such as the immortality of the soul, purgatory, and a detailed heaven-and-hell dichotomy were developed and debated by theologians long after Jesus’s time.

Second, at the time of his death: If we restrict the sources to those available up to 30 CE, the picture becomes more speculative, as the canonical Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) were all written after this date. However, we can make some educated guesses based on the cultural and religious context in which Jesus lived.

  • Jesus likely believed in the resurrection of the dead. Jesus was a Jewish teacher in 1st century Palestine, so his views would have likely been shaped by the religious beliefs and traditions of Judaism during that time. The Pharisees, a prominent Jewish group during the 1st century, believed in the resurrection of the dead, which was a topic of debate among Jewish groups at the time. The Sadducees, another influential Jewish group, rejected the idea of an afterlife and the resurrection of the dead. Given that Jesus often clashed with the Sadducees in the Gospels, it is reasonable to speculate that he may have aligned more with the Pharisees on the question of the afterlife. This could mean that he believed in a form of bodily resurrection, possibly associated with the coming of the Kingdom of God, a concept that was central to his teachings.
  • Jesus likely did not believe in Satan as Christian’s do now. The modern view of Satan evolved over centuries after Jesus’ time. In the Hebrew Bible, also known as the Old Testament, the term “satan” appears, but it is not used as a proper name for a specific evil entity. Instead, it’s a term meaning “adversary” or “accuser.” For instance, in the Book of Job, Satan is portrayed as a member of God’s court who challenges Job’s faith. However, by the time we get to the New Testament, the concept of Satan evolves and becomes personified as a distinct entity opposing God and embodying evil. This transition is evident in the Gospels, for example in the temptation narratives in the Gospels of Matthew (Matthew 4:1-11) (written 50 to 60 years after Jesus2), Mark (Mark 1:12-13), and Luke (Luke 4:1-13), where Satan tempts Jesus in the wilderness. These Gospels were written between 70-90 CE. Additionally, in other New Testament writings like the Epistles of Paul (written between 50-60 CE), there are references to Satan as a force opposing believers. Later, in the Book of Revelation (written around 95 CE), Satan is depicted as a dragon, emphasizing his adversarial role. Thus, starting around the late 1st century CE (50-100 CE), the image of Satan as a personified force of evil becomes more prevalent in Christian writings. This evolution likely reflects the influence of intertestamental Jewish literature (such as the Book of Enoch), ongoing theological reflection, and perhaps also interaction with other religious traditions of the time.
  • Jesus likely did not believe in a fiery hell. The modern view of Satan evolved over centuries after Jesus’ time. The concept of Sheol, a realm of the dead, was present in Jewish thought, although it was not universally seen as a place of punishment or reward. Instead, it was often depicted as a shadowy realm where all the dead resided, irrespective of their moral conduct in life. However, during the Second Temple period (516 BCE – 70 CE), some Jewish groups began to develop more detailed conceptions of the afterlife, including the idea of resurrection and divine judgment. These concepts are reflected in some of the apocalyptic literature of the time, such as the Book of Daniel, which speaks of the resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked for judgment (Daniel 12:2).
  • Jesus likely believed in some form of divine judgement. This concept was not universally accepted among Jewish groups at the time of Jesus. Jesus’ teachings on this subject, as recorded in the Gospels, reflect a particular perspective within this broader debate. In the first century CE, Jewish beliefs about divine judgement varied widely. Many Jews believed in a form of divine judgement connected to a future resurrection of the dead, while others, particularly among the Sadducees, denied the concept of an afterlife entirely. There were also diverse views on how divine judgement was carried out and who would be subject to it. Jesus, as a first-century Jewish teacher, likely held beliefs about divine judgement that were influenced by these various strands of Jewish thought. His teachings, as recorded in the Gospels (some 50+ years after his death), suggest that he did believe in some form of divine judgement. For instance, he frequently spoke of the “kingdom of God” or “kingdom of Heaven,” terms which seem to refer to a future state of justice and peace established by God’s direct rule. However, Jesus’ teachings often emphasized mercy, forgiveness, and the potential for transformation and repentance. He taught that the greatest commandments were to love God and to love one’s neighbor (Mark 12:28-31), and he often criticized those who focused on external religious observances while neglecting justice and mercy (Matthew 23:23) (written 50 to 60 years after Jesus2).

While we can’t say definitively what Jesus believed about the afterlife based on pre-30 CE sources, it’s reasonable to speculate that his views were influenced by the Jewish thought of his time, likely including belief in the coming Kingdom of God, the resurrection of the dead, and possibly some form of divine judgment. However, the specific details of these beliefs and how they were understood can vary widely.

Issue 2: Was Jesus the Son of God, a God, the God?

According to the New Testament, Jesus’s own understanding of his identity and mission is subject to a variety of interpretations. There are passages where Jesus appears to claim a unique relationship with God, which some interpret as a claim to divinity or divine sonship. However, these claims are often veiled in metaphor and parable, leading to diverse interpretations.

For instance, in the Gospel of John (10:30), Jesus says, “I and the Father are one,” which has been taken as a claim of unity with God. In John 14:9, he tells his disciple Philip, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” These passages suggest a unique divine status, but the precise nature of this status is subject to interpretation.

In other instances, Jesus refers to himself with the title “Son of Man,” which has its roots in the Hebrew Bible and apocalyptic literature of the time. This title has a range of meanings, from a generic term for “human being” to a reference to a heavenly figure who will judge the world at the end of time. Jesus’s use of “Son of Man” could imply a claim to an eschatological role, but it’s also possible he was using it in a more humble, human sense.

As for the title “Son of God,” it’s worth noting that in the Jewish context of the time, this phrase didn’t necessarily imply divinity as it’s often understood today. It could be used to refer to a variety of figures who had a special relationship with God, including kings, prophets, and righteous individuals. When Peter declares Jesus to be the “Messiah, the Son of the living God” in Matthew 16:16, it’s unclear whether he meant this in a literal or metaphorical sense.

The New Testament also records instances where Jesus refers to God as his “Father” and prays to God, which could suggest a distinctiveness between him and God. But again, these references are open to interpretation, and different Christian traditions have understood them in different ways.

In sum, while the New Testament provides various hints about Jesus’s self-understanding, these hints are often ambiguous and have given rise to diverse interpretations. This diversity of understanding is reflected in the early Christian movement, which included a range of Christological views, from those who saw Jesus primarily as a human prophet or teacher to those who saw him as the preexistent divine Logos, or Word of God.”

This discussion adds a nuanced perspective to the debate over Jesus’s identity and highlights the complexity of interpreting ancient religious texts. It underlines the fact that our understanding of Jesus’s self-perception is mediated through the New Testament writers, who each had their own theological perspectives and interpretive lenses.

Issue 3: The Human Family Tree

According to the book of Genesis, all humans are believed to have descended from Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve had three sons named Cain, Abel, and Seth. If Adam and Eve only had sons, and you believe the Bible to be the literal word of God, that creates some serious questions. How did the human population continue? Did the Bible omit the existence of daughters on purpose? How is that possible that the word of God could be so incomplete? Even if you accept that not mentioning daughters doesn’t mean they weren’t there, then you have the problem of insist. If early humans engaged in close familial relationships, brothers and sisters, to propagate the human race, was this considered acceptable during those times? Was insist sanctioned by God as a requirement to continue the human race?

In all fairness though, the absence of evidence is not evidence of anything. There are other possible reasons. For example, if you are okay with Philo of Alexandria’s allegorical interpretation of the word of God, then these stories are not literal and require interpretation. Meaning, they are the word of God in story format ready for humanity to uncover their truths and lessons. But Under this scenario, opening up all those stories to everyone’s interpretation is, well, problematic too. Who has the right and/or ability to do so?

A third option exists. These stories are just primitive stories written by primitive men during a male-dominated primitive time. Under this scenario, we consider the context in which these stories were written. They definitely reflect a male-dominated society and the understanding of the world at that time. The emphasis on male figures in the Bible might be a result of the prevailing societal norms, rather than a reflection of historical accuracy. Humanity, in its early stages, often sought explanations for natural phenomena through paranormal and supernatural means.

Finally, it is possible that God did give the stories to humanity and his wise benevolent messages were lost in translation. If so, I’m not sure what value they are as that leaves us with a bunch of stories written by primitive extremely sexist men in an extremely primitive time.

Issue 4: A Woman’s Place

I personally do believe the Bible is very outdated, very much out of time with the world today. By today’s standards, the bible contains much controversy. Let’s start our specific exploration with the biblical place in society for women. The bible says that a woman can never rule over a man. A woman can never tell a man what to do, she can never be a boss, nor a politician. She can never be president. Now, if you share this primitive viewpoint than this is not a flaw in the Bible. Likewise, if you think the Bible is the word of God and that’s important to you, than I suppose you’ll have to adopt this position.

The apostle Paul’s writings reflect the cultural norms of his time, a very sexist place and time in history. To illustrate, passages in Paul’s letters suggest a hierarchy with men at the top, such as directives for women to remain silent in church and to submit to their husbands. Let’s be clear, the apostle Paul along with the religious leaders in the sects that would, over those few centuries, decide what text made it into the New Testament, were sexist. From my viewpoint, an unfortunate intolerant viewpoint.

Did it have to be this way? No, it didn’t. There is clear evidence that women played significant roles in early Christian communities. This can be seen in several New Testament passages. For example, Phoebe is referred to as a deacon in the church at Cenchreae (Romans 16:1), Priscilla is mentioned as a teacher of Apollos, a well-known evangelist (Acts 18:26), and Junia is described as “outstanding among the apostles” (Romans 16:7). However, the extent to which these women, and others like them, participated in decision-making processes is unclear. Some early texts, like the Gospel of Mary, portray women, specifically Mary Magdalene, in significant leadership roles. Luckily, these views have been reinterpreted and debated by modern scholars, and sexism is slowly being weeded out of various institutions around the globe including out of most major religions. Of the Abrahamic religions, Christian religions in particular, seem to be at the forefront of weeding out sexism, but both Judaism and Islam appear to be leaning toward tolerance as well. Respect for the fairer sex is an ongoing and, fingers crossed, improving subject.

The following is an English translation several times removed from the original which was written, transcribed, and morphed many times since before 10,000 BCE. The Bible version of this story was originally written in Hebrew.

I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you. –Genesis 3:16

The book of Genesis is traditionally attributed to Moses about 1,300 BCE. However, many modern scholars believe the origin of the book of Genesis is much older, likely going back to the 5th or 6th millennia BCE which is about 1,000 to 2,000 years older than many interpret the Bible says the Earth is.

The Bible version of this story is likely an edited version going back to the court of Solomon in the 10th century BCE which would put it 10,000 years before Christ, and 12,000 years before us. And, according some people’s interpretation of the Bible, about 6,000 years before the beginning of Earth. This is also about 10,300 years before it was first compiled and edited in the first edition of the Christian Bible about three centuries after Christ. The human mind has had roughly the same capability since circa 150,000 BCE, which is about 6,000 generations ago. The story attributed to the court of Solomon likely had many versions passed down by word of mouth for who knows how many generations.

The book of Genesis also says God’s own words are that women are helpers of men:

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” –Genesis 2:18

Book of Titus: A Woman’s Place is at Home
The bible also says older women should not drink too much, be submissive to their husbands, and stay home. The following is an English translation of the Greek language quote from the book of Titus which was written about six to nine decades after the death of Christ by Paul the Apostle. Paul was born a Jew about the time of Christ’s death, and converted to the Christian faith at about age 30-ish. He wrote, actually dictated to someone, the following a few decades after that: 

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. –Titus 2:3-5

There are many questions about the various authors, languages, and translations of the Bible. Modern scholars question whether Paul the Apostle wrote Titus. They believe Titus was written at least three decades after the death of Paul sometime between 90 CE and 140 CE and then later attributed to Paul the Apostle.

The authors of Titus sure liked their wives submissive. Here’s another example:

To be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. –Titus 2:5

Book of Corinthians: A Woman cannot Lead Prayer
The following is an English translation of the original Greek written about five centuries after the death of Christ. The book of Corinthians was also written by Paul the Apostle.

The women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. –1 Corinthians 14:34 

Corinthians also says that the head of a wife is her husband:

But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. –1 Corinthians 11:3

The following is one more quote from Corinthians repeating  the Law of submissive wives written five to ten decades after the death of Christ. I wonder what Christ would have thought of all this suppression of women?

The women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. –1 Corinthians 14:34-35

Corinthians also requests that women cover their face when they pray:

But every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven. –1 Corinthians 11:5

Book of Timothy: Women Cannot Be Teachers
The following is an English translation of the original Greek written about five decades after the death of Christ. The book of Timothy is also traditionally attributed to Paul the Apostle.

Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control. –1 Timothy 2:11-15

Modern scholars also question whether Paul the Apostle wrote 1 Timothy. They believe 1 Timothy was written at least three decades after the death of Paul, perhaps by the same author who made up the Book of Titus about 90 CE to 140 CE. Whoever made up the book of Timothy sure hated women.

Book of Ephesians: Wives submit everything to their husbands.
The following is an English translation of the original Greek from Ephesians. By tradition, this book is usually attributed to Peter the Apostle too, circa 62 CE. However, modern scholars believe this was created by one of his followers after his death and attributed to him.

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. –Ephesians 5:22-24

Here’s another wives must be submissive example:

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. –Ephesians 5:22

Here’s an example from the book of Peter which is also credited to Peter the Apostle.

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands… Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear… For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands… –1 Peter 3:1-6

Holy Books do not justify evil
This is necessary in particular when someone who worships using the Bible is using it for evil, or disparaging other religious documents.

Issue 5: The Bible is or is not the word of God

If your definition of God is that he is perfect, then clearly the Bible is not the word of God. By pointing out the flaws in the Bible, you can persuade Bible-worshippers to accept the flaws in other religious works, and to refrain from using it to justify evil acts.

Just a few examples:
Controversies in the Bible:

  • Adultery: And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
  • Miss-behaved children: If a son is ungovernable, bring him before the authorities and he will be executed.
  • Leviticus 18:22, homosexuality is an abomination 
  • Exodus 21:7, sell your youngest daughter into slavery
  • Exodus 35:2, kill those that work on the sabbath
  • Leviticus 11:7, touch the skin of pig makes one unclean
  • plant different crops side-by-side=whole town must stone to death those that committed the crime
  • burn my mother to death in a small family gathering for wearing two different threads

If you want to see a dramatic overview, look no further than West Wing:

West Wing cited a few problems well…

Leviticus 18:22, homosexuality is an abomination 

Exodus 21:7, sell your youngest daughter into slavery

Exodus 35:2, kill those that work on the sabbath

Leviticus 11:7, touch the skin of pig makes one unclean

plant different crops side-by-side=whole town must stone to death

burn my mother to death in a small family gathering for wearing two different threads

 

Issue 6: Kill Miss-Behaved Children

Old Testament:

If a son is ungovernable, bring him before the authorities and he will be executed.

Here is Pat Robertson supporting and promoting the idea of killing misbehaved kids (28:15 to 28:40)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1739&v=pBTAyBeR9O0

 

Issue 7: Stone Adulterers to Death

If you’ve ever been cheated on, well, you can kind of sympathize with this wrath, but cooler minds believe the couple should just split up, or work through it.

John 8:1-11 — Cast the First Stone!

John 8:1-11 of the New Testament is the story of a women caught in adultery and brought before Jesus. 

Leviticus 20:10 in the Old Testament, King James Bible:

And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.

The town folk wanted to stone her to death, or at least hear what Jesus said. Jesus forgives her saying:

Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.

No one is without sin, therefore no one was qualified to carry out the punishment dictated in the Old Testament. With no one able to carry out the punishment, Jesus forgives her and asks her not to sin again.

Problem: This story was completely made up in the 3rd century and was added to the New Testament as the centuries rolled on.

 

Issue 8: Contradictions

Telling a story is about communication and flaws can have meaning, and one can explain away contradictions. With that said, here are just a few of the contradictions in the Bible:

  • Genesis says the Earth was created on Day 1, the Sun and stars on Day 4. We now know even the order was wrong.
  • Genesis chapter 1 says God created the animal and then the first man and woman at the same time, but Genesis chapter 2 gives the order of creation as man, then the animals, and then woman.
  • Genesis chapter 1 says fruit trees were created before man, but chapter 2 says they were made after him.
  • Genesis 1:20 says the fowl were created out of water, but Genesis 2:19 says they were formed from the ground.
  • Genesis 1 lists six days of creation, whereas chapter 2 refers to the “day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.” Genesis 1:2-3 claims that God created light and divided it from darkness on the first day; but Genesis 1:14-19 tells us the sun, moon, and stars weren’t made until the fourth day.
  • Genesis 6:19-22 says God told Noah to bring “of every living thing of all flesh, 2 of every sort . . . into the ark,” but in Genesis 7:2-3 He orders Noah to take into the ark the clean beasts and the birds by sevens, and only the unclean beasts by twos.
    • Critical thought: “I’m sure it was awesome on Noah’s ark, looking down at all those floating, bloated bodies and thinking how much God loves us.” –Anonymous
  • Genesis 8:4 says that as the waters of the flood receded, the ark rested on the mountains of Ararat in the 7th month. The next verse says the mountaintops could not be seen until the tenth month.
  • Genesis 8:13 describes the earth as being dry on the first day of the 1st month, but Genesis 8:14 informs us the earth was not dry until the 27th day of the 2nd month.

Issue 9: The Bible says Life Begins at First Breath, not Conception

The Bible says life begins at first breath, not Conception. Either the Bible is or is not the word of God. The Bible clearly states that life enters and leaves the body through the breath. Life enters your body with your first breath, and leaves with your last. For thousands of years, this concept has been expressed in poetry, funeral liturgy, song, story, and pop culture. The idea that life starts with conception is a modern science-based reinterpretation of religious viewpoints invented just a few decades ago. It is NOT in the Bible.
Genesis 2:7 gives one such example:

“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”

Psalms 33:6

“By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, And by the breath of His mouth all their host.”

Issue 10: The Bible Creeps into Government

Despite the wishes of our Founding Fathers, the Bible sometimes creeps into our government. On February 3, 1983, Ronald Reagan signed into law an Act of Congress proclaiming 1983 to be the “Year of the Bible.” The law described the Bible as the “Word of God” and said there is “a national need to study and apply its teachings.” To clear thinkers, this law was clearly unconstitutional, but despite the conflict with our Constitution, there was not enough will to condemn it. 

Why is putting the Bible in context important? Because people use it to take away America’s contribution to the world, the separation of church and state. For example, Pat Robertson has said, “The Bible . . . is a workable guidebook for politics, business, families and all the affairs of mankind.” Evangelical religions came to America about a century after our Founding Fathers. Just like the Founding Fathers, you should be very concerned about the mixing of state and religion. Let’s end this article with a quote from Roger Williams:

“[There should be] a hedge or wall of separation between the Garden of the Church and the Wilderness of the world.” –1644, Roger Williams

Issue 11: Origins of the Books of the Bible

The stories were interpreted and put together circa 430 CE. 

Let’s end this article with a notes on the historical origins of just one of the books of the bible. Research into each book that was included in the Bible, and the ones left out have a similar history. 

Leviticus 

Leviticus is believed to have come from the Persian Empire (modern day Iran) dating back to about the 6th or 7th century BCE. Likely sourced to the Priestly source of the Pentateuchal traditions. Specifically the law upon which Ezra and Nehemiah based their reform to counter neglect of the Sabbath, nonpayment to the church, and the rise in divorce. Some credit Moses with writing Leviticus but this is unlikely as Moses lived about seven centuries before it’s creation. Moses’ time was the 14th and 13th century BCE.

These wonderful historical documents document the belief systems of some or our ancient ancestors. They also give us insight. What they believed, their morals, societal issues, and government laws. No matter your belief system, correctly honoring all historical documents is the right thing to do. If you believe in God, God wants you to use your analytical skills to interpret the various religious and historical documents.  

The Original Language of the Bible

At this time writing was still very primitive. The written language were all capital letters run together, no lowercase, no spaces between words, no sentence structure, nor paragraphs. The reading of someone else’s words was a real adventure during this time.

The deciding of the structure of sentences, punctuation, and paragraphs was left up to the reader. Even the letters that make up words themselves sometimes had multiple options.

At the time these stories were written, the interpretation of the letters and words were left up to the reader and there really was no such concept as understanding something upon first reading.

Issue 12: Camels in the Bible?

The debate over the mention of camels in the Bible primarily revolves around the archaeological evidence of camel domestication and the biblical narrative. In several Old Testament stories, such as those involving Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph, camels are mentioned as domesticated animals. These biblical figures are traditionally associated with periods ranging from 2000 to 1500 BCE. However, archaeological findings have raised questions about this timeline. Evidence suggests that camels were not widely domesticated in the regions of Israel, Egypt, and Mesopotamia until around 1000 BCE or later, which is several centuries after the time of the patriarchs as described in the Bible. This discrepancy between the archaeological record and the biblical accounts has led to a significant scholarly discussion about the historical accuracy of these biblical references to camels.

The implications of this debate are multifaceted. On one hand, critics of the historical accuracy of the Bible argue that the mention of camels is an anachronism, suggesting that these parts of the Old Testament were written or edited much later than the events they describe. This perspective posits that the authors of these texts might have included details and scenarios familiar to them in their own time, rather than those of the distant past. On the other hand, some scholars and religious interpreters offer alternative explanations. These include the possibility of an earlier, albeit more limited, domestication of camels that hasn’t been clearly identified in the archaeological record yet. Others suggest that the biblical references to camels could be allegorical or symbolic, serving a narrative or theological purpose rather than a strictly historical one. This debate over camels is part of a broader conversation about how to interpret the Bible — as a historical document, a theological text, or a combination of both.

Conclusion

In this article I aimed to highlight some of the controversial aspects of the Bible, as well as the evolution of beliefs in Abrahamic religions. While recognizing the Bible as a significant historical document, it is essential to remember that it was written, chosen, and translated by humans, and contains errors and contentious teachings. As values and beliefs evolve over time, it is crucial to approach the Bible with a critical and open mind, understanding that it may not be the literal or infallible word of God. By doing so, we can appreciate its historical importance and its role in the development of the world’s major religions, while also acknowledging the need for continuous interpretation and adaptation to our ever-changing society.

Footnotes:

1: The Gospel of John, likely written between 90 and 110 CE, is traditionally attributed to John the Apostle, but modern scholars often see this as symbolic rather than literal.

2: The Gospel of Matthew was likely written between 80 to 90 CE. While traditionally attributed to the Apostle Matthew, most modern scholars believe it was composed by an unknown Jewish-Christian scribe, drawing from sources like the Gospel of Mark. The Gospel of Matthew appears to draw heavily from the Gospel of Mark (which was likely written between 66 and 70 CE) and a hypothetical source known as “Q,” which is believed to have been a collection of Jesus’ sayings. The Gospel of John, on the other hand, has a unique style and content, suggesting a different source of tradition, possibly one unique to the community in which it was written.

3: The information in the Gospels of the New Testament books, comes from a combination of oral tradition, earlier written sources, and the author’s own theological insights and interpretations. They were not directly given by God in the way that, for example, some people believe the Ten Commandments were given to Moses.

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