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BridgeTheGap Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-28-11 10:10 AM
Original message
Who Wrote the Bible and Why It Matters
Apart from the most rabid fundamentalists among us, nearly everyone admits that the Bible might contain errors -- a faulty creation story here, a historical mistake there, a contradiction or two in some other place. But is it possible that the problem is worse than that -- that the Bible actually contains lies?

Most people wouldn't put it that way, since the Bible is, after all, sacred Scripture for millions on our planet. But good Christian scholars of the Bible, including the top Protestant and Catholic scholars of America, will tell you that the Bible is full of lies, even if they refuse to use the term. And here is the truth: Many of the books of the New Testament were written by people who lied about their identity, claiming to be a famous apostle -- Peter, Paul or James -- knowing full well they were someone else. In modern parlance, that is a lie, and a book written by someone who lies about his identity is a forgery.

Most modern scholars of the Bible shy away from these terms, and for understandable reasons, some having to do with their clientele. Teaching in Christian seminaries, or to largely Christian undergraduate populations, who wants to denigrate the cherished texts of Scripture by calling them forgeries built on lies? And so scholars use a different term for this phenomenon and call such books "pseudepigrapha."

You will find this antiseptic term throughout the writings of modern scholars of the Bible. It's the term used in university classes on the New Testament, and in seminary courses, and in Ph.D. seminars. What the people who use the term do not tell you is that it literally means "writing that is inscribed with a lie."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bart-d-ehrman/the-bible-t...
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humblebum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-28-11 12:13 PM
Response to Original message
1. The single thing that marks this article as absolute bunk is
Edited on Mon Mar-28-11 12:14 PM by humblebum
that it claims to be objectively proven to be true, when in fact, it is only subjective at best. It is quite well known among historians that the farther down the time line one gets from an event, the more difficult it become to obtain indisputable objective proof about an event. It is OK to question the authorship of certain books of the Bible or for that matter any text, but to make a definite statement such as is being made here is a pure lie for the reason stated earlier. It would be very foolish to think that someone writing nearly 2000 years ago would be doing so to deceive readers centuries later. It serves no purpose.
There are books of the Bible such as Hebrews where an author is not stated and authorship has been ascribed and debated, leaving some uncertainty to remain. But in the cases where the author is plainly stated, I would clearly give more weight to the Church fathers who were closer to the actual events. Just because there are statements in the Bible ascribed to a single author that appear to be contradictory does not mean that the author was not who he claimed to be. We do know that Paul did not always personally pen his works because he states that he used a scribe to whom he dictated. We also know that the existence of people who could read and write 2000 years ago was quite rare, and we know from Scripture that Paul was a very educated man and possessed the ability to write and to speak effectively. And we also know from the Scriptures that Paul spoke to many diverse populations and that he tailored his messages to the various cultures that he encountered in his journeys.
Whatever biblical critics state about events that happened so long ago is purely subjective interpretation. And to state such opinions as being objectively true is a calculated deception designed to serve their own purposes, whatever those may be.
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intaglio Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-28-11 03:17 PM
Response to Reply #1
5. The Church Fathers were often further from actual events
... than we credit. Not for them the multiple sources we now have access too or the hard "in the ground" archaeology. These Church Fathers had oral tradition, a few badly copied writings and their own desire for a church after their preferred model. Such persons were not above forgery - even faking apostolic letters of Peter and Paul. They did not know, as we do, that there was no Census of the Roman Province of Syria in the time of Herod the Great or that such a Census never involved a return to the family home.

The long unrecorded verbal traditions of the nomads in Israel and Judea accreted many fabulous and fantastical details, examples including events of the Exodus and the Flood stories.

Three other points:
Firstly, it the views of the "Church Fathers" that were entirely subjective being based only on hearsay and personal belief;

Secondly, the modern view has the benefit of the objective findings brought to light by archaeology;

Thirdly, please place an extra line between paragraphs - it will make your thoughts far easier to comprehend.
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humblebum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-28-11 04:18 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. The point is that you are dealing with subjective information and therefore to
make a definite statement on dubious information is simply dishonest. Modern archeology is doing as much to confirm parts of Scripture as it is to cast doubt.
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darkstar3 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-28-11 05:13 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. Care to back that up?
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laconicsax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-28-11 07:15 PM
Response to Reply #8
11. Oh, come on man...you know that where you see contradiction, it sees confirmation.
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darkstar3 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-28-11 09:40 PM
Response to Reply #11
17. Which is still the most astounding admission of cognitive dissonance I've ever seen.
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laconicsax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-28-11 09:52 PM
Response to Reply #17
18. It's only dissonance if it causes them anxiety. n/t
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darkstar3 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-28-11 09:54 PM
Response to Reply #18
19. I figure that's the reason it just can't let go.
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laconicsax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-28-11 09:57 PM
Response to Reply #19
20. I'd bet that things are more complex than they seem.
Some people get off on stress and anxiety, for example. Other people, due to cognitive biases are simply unable to recognize what is right in front of them. Others still will never admit error. The list of possibilities goes on.
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intaglio Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-28-11 06:16 PM
Response to Reply #6
9. You don't want to go here
Edited on Mon Mar-28-11 06:18 PM by intaglio
I agree that often you are dealing with subjective information, but often only in regard to absence of evidence. There is no archaeological evidence whatsoever for the exodus, the misrepresentations put about by certain so-called "biblical archaeology" organisations not withstanding. However it is possible to be objective about the false time-lines espoused by Velikovski and certain fundamentalist preachers. Evidence was falsified and misread, this is well known and therefore you can say, objectively, those time-lines are false. Judgments about the Ipuwer papyrus can only be subjective but what evidence there is does not support it as description of the biblical plagues.

It is also possible to be objective about a world-wide, biblical flood. It did not happen. If you wish to dispute that please take a course in geology from a recognised institution and submit your concept as a thesis.

It is also possible to be objective about some untruths in the New Testament. Firstly the inconvenient truth that there was never a census during the reign of Herod (died 4 BCE), Herod was a client king and censuses were not done in client kingdoms. Judea did not come under direct Roman rule until 6 CE when Quirinius was appointed Legate of Syria province. Now Matthew says that Herod the Great was king and Luke says Quirinius was Governor, therefore objectively one of these accounts is untrue. I'm certain you have some subjective arguments which ignore objective reality but I am not interested in special pleading. Similarly the ancestry given for Jesus in these two books differs, objectively one genealogy is false.

/edit for clarity
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westerebus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-28-11 09:23 PM
Response to Reply #9
13. Didache. The Teachings of the Twelve Apostles.
A collection of teachings by the founders of the gentile christian faith pulls from Mathew in a large part to make their point.

Written some where between 70 and 130 AD. Possibly later.

Pretty interesting in that much of the Roman Church's foundation are sourced here.

If Mathew was written as late as this document, they may have been cross referenced so to speak, adding "credence" to both.

Not an accusation. Just a bit of juxtaposition of the veracity of older documents and the Roman Church.



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intaglio Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-29-11 07:49 AM
Response to Reply #13
34. Agreed, Didache is interesting
If only from the fact it is excluded from the canonical (sic) text! The problem comes with why were the biblical texts written at all for they do not describe an historical figure.

The Jesus of the gospels is a famous miracle worker, attracts huge crowds with his teaching, is an acknowledged a scholar and enters Jerusalem in triumph. If Jesus had been that famous there would be far more note made of him in non-Christian sources. Josephus hardly refers to Jesus at all even if you accept the references in his "Jewish War" at face value (which I do not). Philo of Alexandria whose life overlapped the career of Jesus makes no mention this famous rabbi despite writing at length about Pilate's rule in Judea. Valerius Maximus collected memorable sayings and accomplishments during the time of Jesus's life but has nothing from or about that teacher.

What does that leave us with? Just the synoptic gospels; two of which which contradict each other and copy from the third; dubious references from later, non-Christian writers and the non-synoptic Christian writings; both those later included in the bible and those excluded from it.

Didache is one of the excluded, Christian writings. Dating for any early text is difficult; the careers and reputations of numerous academics are made upon assessing the age of texts. Essentially dating it boils down to identifying dated events within the text, assessing the grammar and vocabulary of the text for the period in which it was written and finding when the text is first mentioned by other writers in a dated context. Using these methods I understand that the Didache is dated to between 50 and 120 CE. As an aside it is worth noting that this places the Didache in the same period as the early Pauline letters and the hypothetical, maybe mythical Q document. In addition Didache possibly pre-dates the Gospel of Mark.

Didache and all of the other, Christian writings are connected by two things - they were written and amended long after the time of the putative Christ and we do not hold original copies. On textual accuracy, for example, Marcion complained about the Western Church adding text to early Pauline letters and they in turn accused him of deleting content. The earliest copy we have of Mark is in the Codex Sinaiticus and that, at the earliest dates to mid-Fourth Century (320-380 CE). This early Mark again shows how texts were altered by the early and later Churches for it contains only 666 verses against the modern count of 678.

Now let me tell you about a miracle that happened during the First World War. In August 1914 British units of the "contemptibly small" British Expeditionary Force were attacked by a very large number of Germans. The force was pressed hard and a massive breakthrough was threatened, but a hugely outnumbered force on a small salient near Mons held out. The situation was dire, if the salient was crushed then nothing would stop the German advance. Then, at the height of the battle something wonderful happened, Germans fell in huge numbers and the remainder turned and ran; the salient held and the British were able to withdraw safely to freshly prepared lines. Near contemporary reports tell of a bright light in the sky, and the appearance of angels conjuring strangely equipped troops from the mists. These troops wore tatters and medieval armour, they carried bows and clothyard arrows. The next day, it is said, Germans recovering their dead did, indeed, find many of their men had died from arrows not bullets.

You may recognise the story of the "Angel of Mons" and the truly miraculous thing about it is that many people believed it really happened. Despite modern printing, record keeping and reporting for much of the 20th Century many people accepted this fable as fact. The real story was that the highly trained, professional troops of the BEF, using one of the best weapons of the century (the Short Magazine Lee Enfield rifle) did hold against a conscript army who vastly outnumbered them. Then, the next month, a fine writer called Arthur Machin wrote a story called "The Bowmen" about this battle which was published in the London "Evening News". For some reason the editor did not identify this story as fiction. To quote Wikipedia:
A month or two afterwards, Machen received requests from the editors of parish magazines to reprint the story, which were granted. A priest, the editor of one of these magazines, subsequently wrote to Machen asking if he would allow the story to be reprinted in pamphlet form, and would he write a short preface giving authorities for the story. Machen replied that they were welcome to reprint but he could not give any authorities for the story since he had none. The priest replied that Machen must be mistaken, that the "facts" of the story must be true, and that Machen had just elaborated on a true account. As Machen later said:
"It seemed that my light fiction had been accepted by the congregation of this particular church as the solidest of facts; and it was then that it began to dawn on me that if I had failed in the art of letters, I had succeeded, unwittingly, in the art of deceit. This happened, I should think, some time in April, and the snowball of rumour that was then set rolling has been rolling ever since, growing bigger and bigger, till it is now swollen to a monstrous size."
Arthur Machen, Preface to The Bowmen<1>

Around that time variants of the story began to appear, told as authentic histories, including a variant which told how dead German soldiers had been found on the battlefield with arrow wounds.


During my childhood and adolescence I was assured this story was true, it was a "real life" miracle. I know that the event has been cited throughout my life. Can see where this is leading? Despite our literate society, the easy availability of sources and the frequent, well publicised, debunking people still accepted this story of an angel as reality. How much easier then for a Platonic Ideal of a God/Man to be accepted as reality in a non-literate society - and think how quickly this could happen.

I can see how, within 20 years of the supposed death of this Messiah, a believer chose to write down what he had gathered about his "real" God. That other authors hearing of this write their own accounts. All would draw on a common fund of legends, some would use half remembered stories about real people and add them to the mix - or copy the bits they liked from other writers. In all I do not think the Gospels, and the other writings, are gospel true.
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westerebus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-29-11 07:26 PM
Response to Reply #34
35. History is written by the victors.
In this case as with the one from WWI, repetition favors the common place in mankind's bosom. That oft repeated story of the weak triumphed over the ghastly horde. David slew Goliath with nothing more than his raw courage and his sling. It is reassuring in its nature and prodigious in its scope. The variety and vagaries swirl our interest all the more. It's in our nature. We are biased to the happy ending. Good conquers evil.

How better for Saul, the tax collector, to have his moment of enlightenment as a vibrant religion takes shape. And how fitting that the Messiah spoke of "rendering to Cesare that which is Cesar's". And today, that story is still used to legitimize the power of the state to tax.

The Roman Empire. The Christian Church. The Holy Roman Empire. The Roman Catholic Church.

First they ignore you. Then they prosecute you. Then they accept you. Then you win.

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dimbear Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-28-11 08:41 PM
Response to Reply #6
12. Modern archaeology. Um hum.
Edited on Mon Mar-28-11 08:43 PM by dimbear
A actual good example is the work of Israel Finkelstein. A chap who would be described as a Biblical minimalist, that is, one who looks for the facts in the dirt rather than in the writ. Lots of his work
available free on line.

He doesn't believe there ever was a First Temple. The magnificent building described in the OT is pure fiction.
(In fact it is a description of Egyptian temples of the period.) But--new discoveries almost magically arise to challenge the good Professor. A receipt. A pomegranate.

What do these new earthshaking discoveries have in common, other than cutting the ground out from under a minimalist?

They are forgeries.

They are going to end up in the dustbin with the James ossuary.

And so on and so on. All lies and jest.

Modern archaelogy has cut almost all the props out of the early books of the OT, and simply remains silent on the NT, which naturally left no traces, not having built any buildings.



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humblebum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-28-11 09:25 PM
Response to Reply #12
14. The problem though is this:
"The magnificent building described in the OT is pure fiction"- is by no means proven, not by a longshot. That statement is quite subjective. And the vast stetches of Middle Eastern desert that have yet to be unearthed are deep and massive and probably hold many secrets yet to be revealed. Those areas that have been exposed are just a sliver of the total area to be explored. Big difference between proof and theory.
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dimbear Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-28-11 09:37 PM
Response to Reply #14
15. Follow the trend line. A few centuries ago, intelligent people could believe in the Flood.
Then that was shown to be absurd, and people moved on. If Genesis was just a collection of myths, maybe Exodus was true history. Then it was shown that the Exodus never occurred, and people moved on to suppose the real history started with Saul. Then archaeologists showed that Saul's/David's kingdom was a tiny village, and the persistent true believer people moved on to Solomon. Then..........

You see the trend. :)

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humblebum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-28-11 10:18 PM
Response to Reply #15
21. There is no trend, only debate. you are making definite statements about
events that remain open to discussion. Only someone with an agenda sees a trend. Whenever you see someone such as a biblical literalist or a biblical minimalist state something as fact that yet remains unproven - the warning bells should be going off. The soundest approach to historical and archeological research is still the Rankean antiquarian approach. Let the evidence tell the story and minimize inductive speculation. And much needs yet to be uncovered and explored.
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darkstar3 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-28-11 09:39 PM
Response to Reply #14
16. The statement isn't subjective,
rather, it is the only available conclusion from the facts at hand. What you're trying to do is force us to DISprove the existence of things written about in a clearly embellished if not entirely fictional aggregation of documents.

I could just as easily follow your thought process by first claiming that I shit rainbows, and then telling you that everything you present to debunk this claim is nothing but subjective and therefore fails to prove anything.
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humblebum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-28-11 10:27 PM
Response to Reply #16
22. The statement is subjective for the simple fact that not all agree.
Edited on Mon Mar-28-11 10:40 PM by humblebum
And if it is not objective then it must be subjective. Until someone physically unearths the ground beneath the Dome, any theory remains subjective. And even then we don't know how much destruction was done by the Babylonians nor how much was carried off in 586 BC.
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darkstar3 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-28-11 10:36 PM
Response to Reply #22
23. That doesn't make any sense.
Everyone has to agree in order for something to be objective? So if you don't agree with the Law of Gravitation, then it isn't objective?

BTW: By your logic, until everyone watches me defecate, any theory on whether I shit rainbows remains subjective, and even after the performance there's no way to know how nice the rainbows were in the past...
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humblebum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-28-11 10:47 PM
Response to Reply #23
24. You just contradicted yourself. Yes it is true that not everyone
is in agreement. There is no consensus. That makes it subjective as far as I can tell.
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darkstar3 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-28-11 10:51 PM
Response to Reply #24
25. Sometimes I wonder if you bother to read...
Where did I contradict myself? Consensus does not equal objectivity. It never has.
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laconicsax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-28-11 11:50 PM
Response to Reply #25
27. Have you always pooped rainbows?
Since it's subjective whether you do, I suppose it's best to assume to you do.

WWHD?
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humblebum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-29-11 12:00 AM
Response to Reply #27
29. Time for a colonoscopy.
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laconicsax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-29-11 12:04 AM
Response to Reply #29
30. That's subjective.
:rofl:
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humblebum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-28-11 11:55 PM
Response to Reply #25
28. When it comes to objectivity as it relates to history, it usually does equal consensus
simply because of the variations of historical research and the contentious nature of historians.
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darkstar3 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-29-11 01:28 AM
Response to Reply #28
33. I'm sorry, was that a completely subjective claim regarding the objectivity of history?
:rofl:
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laconicsax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-28-11 11:47 PM
Response to Reply #24
26. LOL!
Thanks for that--I needed a good laugh!
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dimbear Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-29-11 01:14 AM
Response to Reply #16
32. IMHO, this is a manifestation of the goddess Iris.
Iris, goddess of rainbows, isn't famous for bestowing things, either.
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orwell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-28-11 12:29 PM
Response to Original message
2. This guy would agree...
http://www.bartdehrman.com /

I think he's earned his right to an opinion...
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humblebum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-28-11 12:49 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. I have read and listened to Bart Ehrman for years and he is an
interesting and brilliant man. The problem with much of his work is that it is obviously agenda driven and as such he loses some of his objectivity concerning his historical interpretations. By stating opinion as proven fact based on subjective interpretations and equivocations marks an author as questionable, and that is my take on Bart Ehrman. Very intelligent and completely free to express his opinion, but for every one of him out there, there are a thousand who would question his motives and works.
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Adsos Letter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-28-11 01:19 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. I'm sure he would agree...he wrote the article cited in the OP for Huffington Post.
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GKirk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-28-11 05:11 PM
Response to Reply #4
7. That's like citing the Bible
as proof of God's existence. Cricular logic. :D
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rpannier Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-28-11 06:36 PM
Response to Original message
10. The key part of this story (for me) is:
This may all seem like a bit of antiquarian curiosity, especially for people whose lives don't depend on the Bible or even people of faith for whom biblical matters are a peripheral interest at best. But in fact, it matters sometimes. Whoever wrote the book of 1 Timothy claimed to be Paul. But he was lying about that -- he was someone else living after Paul had died. In his book, the author of 1 Timothy used Paul's name and authority to address a problem that he saw in the church. Women were speaking out, exercising authority and teaching men. That had to stop. The author told women to be silent and submissive, and reminded his readers about what happened the first time a woman was allowed to exercise authority over a man, in that little incident in the garden of Eden. No, the author argued, if women wanted to be saved, they were to have babies (1 Tim. 2:11-15).

Largely on the basis of this passage, the apostle Paul has been branded, by more liberation minded people of recent generations, as one of history's great misogynists. The problem, of course, is that Paul never said any such thing. And why does it matter? Because the passage is still used by church leaders today to oppress and silence women. Why are there no women priests in the Catholic Church? Why are women not allowed to preach in conservative evangelical churches? Why are there churches today that do not allow women even to speak? In no small measure it is because Paul allegedly taught that women had to be silent, submissive and pregnant. Except that the person who taught this was not Paul, but someone lying about his identity so that his readers would think he was Paul.
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moobu2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-29-11 12:34 AM
Response to Original message
31. Not only is the New Testament slap full of inserted forgeries
the Gospels and letters and other writings were placed in it out of order in what basically renders the entire thing one humongous lie.
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