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This article is about criticisms which are made against the Bible as a source of information or ethical guidance. Criticism of the Bible is not the same thing as Biblical criticism which is the academic treatment of the Bible as a historical document. It is also not the same as Criticism of Christianity or Criticism of Judaism, which are criticisms of entire religions.

In modern times, the view that the Bible should be accepted as historically accurate and as a reliable guide to morality has been questioned by many mainstream academics in the field of Biblical Criticism. While the idea of Biblical inerrancy has not been adopted by many Christian groups or has been understood in such a way as to allow certain portions of the Bible to be reinterpreted, the modern movement of Christian Fundamentalism—as well as much of Orthodox Judaism—strongly support the idea that the Bible is a historically accurate record of actual events and a primary source of moral guidance.

In addition to concerns about morality, inerrancy, or historicity, there remain some questions of which books should be included in the Bible (see canon of scripture). Jews discount the New Testament and most of Judeao-Christianity discredit the legitimacy of the New Testament apocrypha.

Bible history issues

The Jewish Scripture and Christian Scripture (Old and New Testaments) are works recognized as sacred and authoritative writings by the respective faiths.[1] The Old Testament collection, or Hebrew Bible, was originally composed in Hebrew, except for parts of Daniel and Ezra that are in Aramaic. These writings depict Israelite religion from its beginnings to about the 2nd Century BCE. The New Testament was written in Greek.

The formation of the canon of Scripture was the process of determining exactly which writings were to be accepted in the Jewish or Christian Scriptures. It was not until about 100 CE that the final selection of authorized Jewish Scriptures was complete. Until the 18th century, the general belief in Christendom was that the earth was created some 4,000 years before the birth of Christ, and that the Garden of Eden, the Flood and the Tower of Babel, Abraham and the Exodus, and all subsequent narrative, were real history. Then the growth of the sciences in the 18th and 19th centuries — notably geology and the Theory of Evolution — threw the first few chapters of Genesis into doubt, and by the end of the 19th century the view that the first eleven chapters of Genesis represented actual historical events was being widely questioned. The general opinion among non-creationist Bible scholars today is that Genesis 1–11, taking in the cycle of stories from the Creation to the "generations of Terah", is a highly schematic literary work representing theology rather than history.[2]

At the same time traditional ideas about the composition of the books were being undermined. At the end of the 17th century few Bible scholars would have questioned that the Pentateuch was the work of Moses, Joshua was by Joshua, and so on. However, in the late 18th century scholars began to question these traditional authorships, and by the end of the 19th century the consensus view among Biblical scholars was that the Pentateuch as a whole was the work of many more authors over many centuries from 1000 BCE (the time of David) to 500 BCE (the time of Ezra), and that the history it contained was often more polemical rather than strictly factual. By the first half of the 20th century Hermann Gunkel had drawn attention to the mythic aspects of the Pentateuch, and Albrecht Alt, Martin Noth and the tradition history school argued that although its core traditions had genuinely ancient roots, the narratives were fictional framing devices and were not intended as history in the modern sense.

In 367 CE the present twenty-sevem books of the New Testament alongside the present thirty-nine book canon of the Christian Old Testament became solidified.[1]

"While the limits of the canon were effectively set in these early centuries, the status of Scripture has been a topic of scholarly discussion in the later church. Increasingly, the Biblical works have been subjected to literary and historical criticism in efforts to interpret the texts independent of Church and dogmatic influences. Different views of the authority and inspiration of the Bible also continue to be expressed in liberal and fundamentalist churches today. What cannot be denied, however, is the enormous influence which the stories, poetry, and reflections found in the Biblical writings have had, not only on the doctrines and practices of two major faiths, but also on Western culture, its literature, art, and music."[1]

In the 2nd century, the gnostics often asserted that their form of Christianity was the first, in which Jesus was sometimes regarded as merely a teaching device, or as a docetic teacher, or allegory.[3] Elaine Pagels has proposed that there are several examples of gnostic attitudes in the Pauline epistles, Elaine Pagels. Bart D. Ehrman and Raymond E. Brown note that some of the Pauline epistles are widely regarded by scholars as pseudonymous,[4] and it is the view of Timothy Freke, and others, that this involved a forgery in an attempt by the Church to bring in Paul's Gnostic supporters and turn the arguments in the other Epistles on their head.

Some critics have maintained that Christianity is not founded on an historical figure, but rather on a mythical creation.[5] This view proposes that the idea of Jesus was the Jewish manifestation of a pan-Hellenic cult, known as Osiris-Dionysus,[6] which acknowledged the non-historic nature of the figure, using it instead as a teaching device.

Translation issues

Some critics express concern that none of the original manuscripts of the books of the Bible still exist. All translations of the Bible have been made from well respected but centuries-old copies of the original manuscripts. Religious communities value highly those who interpret their scriptures at both the scholarly and popular levels. Translation of scripture into the vernacular (such as English and hundreds of other languages), though a common phenomenon, is also a subject of debate and criticism.[7]

Translation has given rise to a number of issues, as the original languages are often quite different in grammar as well as word meaning. While the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy states that "inerrancy" applies only to the original languages, some believers trust their own translation to be the accurate one. One such group of believers is known as the King James only movement. For readability, clarity, or other reasons, translators may choose different wording or sentence structure, and some translations may choose to paraphrase passages. Some of the words in the original language have ambiguous or difficult to translate meanings, consequently, debates over the correct interpretation occur.

For instance, the word used in the masoretic text (Isaiah 7:14) to indicate the woman who would bear Emmanuel is alleged to mean a young, unmarried woman in Hebrew, while Matthew 1:23 follows the Septuagint version of the passage which uses the Greek word parthenos, translated virgin, and is used to support the Christian idea of virgin birth. Those who view the masoretic text, which forms the basis of most English translations of the Old Testament, as being more accurate than the Septuagint, and trust its usual translation, may see this as an inconsistency, whereas those who take the Septuagint to be accurate may not.

In the History of the English Bible, there have been many changes to the wording, leading to several competing versions. Many of these have contained Biblical errata—typographic errors, such as the phrases Is there no treacle in Gilead?, Printers have persecuted me without cause, and Know ye not that the unrighteous shall inherit the kingdom of God?, and even Thou shalt commit adultery.[8]

More recently, several discoveries of ancient manuscripts such as the Dead Sea scrolls, and Codex Sinaiticus, have led to modern translations like the New International Version differing somewhat from the older ones such as the King James Version, removing verses not present in the earliest manuscripts (see List of omitted Bible verses), some of which are acknowledged as interpolations, such as the Comma Johanneum, others having several highly variant versions in very important places, such as the resurrection scene in Mark 16. The King James only movement advocates reject these changes and uphold the King James Version as the most accurate.[9]

Ethics in the Bible

Certain interpretations of the moral decisions in the Bible are considered ethically questionable by many modern groups. Some of the passages (generally ones related to Mosaic Law) most commonly criticized include the subjugation of women, religious intolerance, use of capital punishment as penalty for violation of Mosaic Law, sexual acts like incest although most types of incestuous relationships were condemned after the events of Noah's flood,[10] toleration of the institution of slavery in both Old and New Testaments,[11] obligatory religious wars and the order to commit the genocide of the Canaanites and the Amalekites. Some religious groups support the Bible's decisions by reminding critics that they should be judged by the standards of the time and that Mosaic Law applied to the Israelite people (who lived before the birth of Jesus) but does not apply to Christians. Other religious groups, mostly conservatives, see nothing wrong with the Bible's judgments.[12] Other critics of the Bible, such as Friedrich Nietzsche who popularized the phrase "God is dead,"[13] have criticized the morality of the New Testament, regarding it as weak and conformist-oriented.

Internal consistency

There are many places in the Bible in which inconsistencies — such as different numbers and names for the same feature and different sequences for what are intended to be the same events — have been alleged and presented by critics as difficulties.[14] Responses to these criticisms include the modern documentary hypothesis, the two-source hypothesis and theories that the Pastoral Epistles are pseudonymous.[15]:p.47 Contrasting with these critical stances are positions supported by other authorities that consider the texts to be consistent. Such advocates maintain that the Torah was written by a single source, the Gospels by four independent witnesses, and all of the Pauline epistles to have been written by the Apostle Paul.

However authors such as Raymond Brown have presented arguments that the Gospels actually contradict each other in various important respects and on various important details.[16] W. D. Davies and E. P. Sanders state that: “on many points, especially about Jesus’ early life, the evangelists were ignorant … they simply did not know, and, guided by rumour, hope or supposition, did the best they could”.[17] More critical scholars see the nativity stories either as completely fictional accounts,[18] or at least constructed from traditions which predate the Gospels.[19][20] For example, many versions of the Bible specifically point out that the most reliable early manuscripts and other ancient witnesses did not include Mark 16:9-20, i.e. the Gospel of Mark originally ended at Mark16:8, and additional verses were added a few hundred years later. This is known as the "Markan Appendix".[21][22][23]

Biblical Prophecies

The fulfillment of biblical prophecies is a popular argument used by Christian apologists to prove the divine inspiration of the Bible. In prophecy fulfillment, they see evidence of God's direct involvement in the writing of the Bible.[24] However, critics argue that Biblical prophecies turn out to be prophecies only because Bible writers arbitrarily declared them to be prophecies or the fulfillments became fulfillments only because biased New Testament writers arbitrarily declared them to be fulfillments.

Critical perspectives on Isaiah 7:14

The controversy between Jews and Christians on the virgin birth of Jesus was described about 130 CE by Justin Martyr—teacher, defender of the Christian faith, and martyr:

  • Christians read Isaiah 7:14 as a prophetic prediction of Jesus' birth from a virgin.
  • Jews read it as referring to the birth of Ahaz's son, Hezekiah. Or as Christians saw the sign promised to Ahaz in a virgin becoming pregnant, Jews tried to "demythologize" it as much as possible by seeing it in the natural process of a young woman conceiving a child and any other events described in Isaiah 7:14 and following verses.[25]

Christian perspectives

In the New Testament it was claimed that an angel told Joseph that his betrothed wife, Mary, would give birth to a child conceived by the Holy Spirit. It says this was done to fulfill a prophecy spoken by Isaiah: "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call his name Immanuel."[Matthew 1:23] The Christian perspective is that Isaiah made this statement as a sign to Ahaz, king of Judah, that an alliance recently formed against him by Rezin, the king of Syria, and Pekah, the king of Israel, would not succeed in defeating him. The Lord had sent Isaiah to reassure Ahaz that the alliance would not prevail. Isaiah begged Ahaz to ask for a sign that his prophecy was true. Finally, Isaiah said to him, "Hear now, O house of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also? Therefore Yahweh Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the young woman shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call his name Immanuel."[Isaiah 7:13-14]

A Christian position is that ever since the prophecy of Nathan, every king was the bearer of the whole promise which could not take form in the future without being a bodily reality in the present time. With each new king, there was a reawakening of the hope that this new bearer of the royal blood would realize the ideals of the ruler to come, the Messiah. In the perspective of prophecy, present and distant future are joined. The miracle of the virgin birth in the fullest sense of the word is not clearly expressed in the Immanuel prophecy. Conservative commentators argue that Virgin Mary is only indirectly referred to in the figure of the 'almah'. They claim the Greek Bible (Septuagint) had translated 'almah' as 'parthenos' (virgin), and thus prepared for its interpretation as "virgin" in the proper sense of the word.[26]

Those who believe the gospel account regard Isaiah 7:14 as a messianic passage fulfilled by Jesus. The Gospel of Matthew, in quoting that particular verse, links Jesus' conception to the sign the prophet Isaiah had given centuries earlier. Scholars taking this position claim the word 'almah' is rare, appearing only ten times in the Hebrew Scriptures. They maintain that in the few verses where 'almah' appears, 'almah' refers to a young woman who is not married but is of marriageable age. Although 'almah' does not implicitly denote virginity, they claim it is never used in the Scriptures to describe a "young, presently married woman." In the Bible, a young Jewish woman of marriageable age in that culture and time was presumed to be chaste. One author writes: "One cannot assert that the prophet was speaking of a virgin technically on the basis of the word almah. Nor can a serious student lightly dismiss the word as having no possible reference to a miraculous conception."[27]

Theologian Maarten Menken's position is that the translation of "almah" became problematic only when Christians appealed to Isaiah 7:14 to support their view that Jesus was born from a virgin. Before that moment, this translation did not present theological difficulties to a Jewish reader.[25] He continues: "Matthew inserted in 1:23 the quotation from Isaiah 7:14 into his story of Jesus' origins. The quotation comes from a revised Septuagint (LXX). The revision consisted of a change to make the translation render the Hebrew more correctly. There are no reasons to ascribe the revision to Matthew."[25]

Jewish perspective

Jewish scholars argue that the prophecy was made not to foretell the birth of Jesus some 700 years later but the birth of a child to that time.[28] They also point out that the word Almah, used in Isaiah 7:14, is part of the Hebrew phrase ha-almah hara, meaning “the almah is pregnant.” Since the present tense is used, they maintain that the young woman was already pregnant and hence not a virgin. This being the case, they claim the verse cannot be cited as a prediction of the future.[28][29]

Some scholars refer the Hebrew 'almah' (young, marriageable maiden) to the royal bride of Ahaz and young mother of the heir to David's throne, Hezekiah. According to this interpretation, the prophet Isaiah did not understand the word 'almah' in its New Testament sense but meant the queen who would soon conceive and bear a son.

Those who do not believe that this passage is a reference to the birth of Jesus object that Jesus was not in fact named "Immanuel" and point to other problems such as:

  1. If Christians claim that the virgin birth of Isaiah 7:14 was fulfilled twice, who then was the first virgin having a baby boy in 732 BCE? If they insist that the word ha'almah can only mean virgin, are they claiming that Mary was not the first and only virgin to conceive and give birth to a child?
  2. What does the "butter and honey" refer to?
  3. Why is Jesus, who was sinless from birth in the traditional Christian understanding, described as having to learn to refuse the evil and choose the good? (Isa. 7:15-16)
  4. At what age did the baby Jesus mature?
  5. Which were the two kingdoms during Jesus' lifetime that were abandoned? (Isa. 7:16)
  6. Who dreaded the Kingdom of Israel during the first century CE when there had not been a Kingdom of Israel in existence since the seventh century BCE?
  7. When did Jesus eat cream and honey? [30][31]

Little apocalypse

Critics also claim that many Biblical prophecies were written after the events supposedly predicted or that their text was modified after the event to fit the facts as they occurred. One of the most famous examples of an alleged after-the-fact prophecy is the Little Apocalypse recorded in the Olivet Discourse of the Gospel of Mark. It predicts the siege of Jerusalem and destruction of the Jewish Temple at the hands of the Romans in 70 CE. Most mainstream New Testament scholars concede this is an ex eventu, as are many of the prophecies in the Old Testament (see for example Daniel 11).[32][33][34][35][36][37][38] However, other scholars, such as John A.T. Robinson[39] argue that this prophecy does not make sense to be written after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE because the reader of this text should have the possibility to flee in time to the mountains around Judea.[40]

Unfulfilled prophecies

The Bible also contains prophecies that are disputed, including

  • Ezekiel predicts that the ancient city of Tyre will be utterly destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and "made a bare rock" which will "never be rebuilt" (Ezekiel 26:1, 26:7-14, 26:32). However, Tyre withstood Nebuchadrezzar's siege for 13 years, ending in a compromise in which the royal family was taken into exile but the city survived intact.
  • Ezekiel said Egypt would be made an uninhabited wasteland for forty years (Ezekiel 29:10-14), and Nebuchadrezzar would be allowed to plunder it (Ezekiel 29:19-20) as compensation for his earlier failure to plunder Tyre (see above). However, the armies of Pharaoh Amasis II defeated the Babylonians. History records that this Pharaoh (also known as Ahmose II) went on to enjoy a long and prosperous reign; Herodotus writes that:

"It is said that it was during the reign of Ahmose II that Egypt attained its highest level of prosperity both in respect of what the river gave the land and in respect of what the land yielded to men and that the number of inhabited cities at that time reached in total 20,000".[42]

  • Isaiah spoke of a prophecy God made to Ahaz, the King of Judah that he would not be harmed by his enemies (Isaiah 7:1-7), yet according to 2 Chronicles, the king of Aram and Israel did conquer Judah (2 Chronicles 28:1-6).
  • Jeremiah predicts seventy years (Jeremiah 29:10) for the Babylonian exiles but they only lasted 59 years.[43]
  • In predicting Jerusalem's fall to Babylon, Jeremiah prophesied that Zedekiah, the king of Judah, would "die in peace" (Jeremiah 34:2-5). However, according to Jeremiah (Jeremiah 52:9-11, he was put in prison until the day of his death.
  • Prophetess Huldah prophesied that Josiah would die in peace (2 Kings 22:18-20), but rather than dying in peace, as the prophetess predicted, Josiah was probably killed at Megiddo in a battle with the Egyptian army (2 Chronicles 35:20-24).[44]
  • According to Isaiah 17:1, "Damascus will no longer be a city but will become a heap of ruins", but in fact Damascus is considered to be among the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world.
  • According to Jeremiah 42:17, Jews who choose to live in Egypt will all die and leave no remnant. But history shows that Jews continued to live there for centuries, later establishing a cultural center at Alexandria. A Jewish community exists at Alexandria even to this day.[46]
  • Isaiah and Jeremiah (Isaiah 27:12-13, Jeremiah 1:23, Jeremiah 3:18, and Jeremiah 33:7) predicted the return of the exiles taken from Israel by the Assyrians in 722 BCE. It never happened. Following the conquest of the northern kingdom by the Assyrians in 721 BCE, the 10 tribes were gradually assimilated by other peoples and thus disappeared from history.[47] Unlike the Kingdom of Judah, which was able to return from its Babylonian Captivity in 537 BCE, the 10 tribes of the Kingdom of Israel never had a foreign edict granting permission to return and rebuild their homeland. Assyria has long since vanished, its capital, Nineveh, destroyed in 612 BCE.
  • Isaiah 19:17 predicted that "the land of Judah shall be a terror unto Egypt". It never happened.

Jehoiakim prophecies

  • The prophet Daniel states that in the third year of the reign of King Jehoiakim, Nebuchadnezzar conquered Judah (Daniel 1:1-2). The third year of Jehoiakim's reign was 605 BCE, at which time Nebuchadnezzar was not yet king of Babylon. It was in 597 BC that Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem, by then Jehoiakim had died.
  • Jeremiah prophesied that the body of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, would be desecrated after his death (Jeremiah 22:18-19, Jeremiah 36:30-31). However, his death was recorded in 2Kings 24:6 where it says that "Jehoiakim slept with his fathers". This is a familiar Bible expression that was used to denote a peaceful death and respectful burial. David slept with his fathers (1 Kings 2:10) and so did Solomon (1 Kings 11:43). On the other hand, 2Chronicles 36:5-6 states that Nebuchadnezzar came against Jehoiakim, bound him in fetters, and carried him to Babylon. Judging from the treatment Zedekiah was accorded when the Babylonians bound him and carried him away to Babylon (Jeremiah 52:9-11), one might justifiably argue that his body probably was desecrated after his death. Jeremiah, however, predicted that Jehoiakim's own people would be his desecraters, that his own people would not accord him lamentations appropriate for a king, that his own people would cast his body "out beyond the gates of Jerusalem".
  • Part of the desecration prophecy was that Jehoiakim would "have no one to sit upon the throne of David" (Jeremiah 36:30), but this too was proven false. Upon Jehoiakim's death, his son Jehoiachin "reigned in his stead" for a period of three months and ten days (2Chronicles 36:8-9, 2Kings 24:6-8). Even more devastating than that are the biblical genealogies that show Jehoiakim to be a direct ancestor of Jesus (1 Chronicles 3:16-17, Matthew 1:11-12).[44]

Messianic prophecies

According to many Christians, the alleged fulfillment of the messianic prophecies in the mission, death, and resurrection of Jesus proves the accuracy of the Bible and that Jesus is the Son of God, however according to common beliefs of Judaism, Christian claims that Jesus is the textual messiah of the Hebrew Bible are based on mistranslations[48][49][50] and Jesus did not fulfill the qualifications for Jewish Messiah.

New Testament

  • Jesus said in Matt. 24:2; Mark 13:2; Luke 19:44; Luke 21:6 that "no stone" of Jerusalem or of the temple would be left upon another. This prophecy failed as the wailing wall still remains.

The imminence of the second coming

  • Jesus apparently prophesied that the second coming would occur during the lifetime of his followers and Caiphas, and immediately after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE (referred to as abomination of desolation in Matthew 24:15).

"For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom." (Matthew 16:27-28)

"When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes." (Matthew 10:23)

"..Again the high priest (Caiphas) asked him, "Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?""I am," said Jesus. "And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven." (Mark 14:61-62)"

"Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. "Do you see all these things?" he asked. "I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down." As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now-and never to be equaled again. Immediately after the distress of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened." (Matthew 24)

(See also Mark 13:1-30, Luke 21:5-35, Mark 13:30-31, Mark 9:1, Luke 9:27, John 21:22, Matthew 26:62-64, Mark 14:62)

  • This prophecy is also seen in the Revelation of Jesus to John.

"The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,... Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen." (Revelation 1:1,7)

"Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book. ... Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done." ... He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus."(Revelation 22:7,12,20)

"After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever."[51]

The philosopher Porphyry (232-305 CE), in his Kata Christianon (Against the Christians), a book burned and banned by the church in 448 CE writes of Paul:

"Another of his astonishingly silly comments needs to be examined: I mean that wise saying of his, to the effect that, We who are alive and persevere shall not precede those who are asleep when the lord comes—for the lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout... and the trumpet of god shall sound, and those who have died in Christ shall rise first- then we who are alive shall be caught up together with them in a cloud to meet the lord in the air... Indeed—there is something here that reaches up to heaven: the magnitude of this lie. When told to dumb bears, to silly frogs and geese—they bellow or croak or quack with delight to hear of the bodies of men flying through the air like birds or being carried about on the clouds. This belief is quackery of the first rate."

The Bible and science

The Bible and archaeology

According to one of the world's leading Biblical archaeologist William G. Dever,

"Archaeology certainly doesn't prove literal readings of the Bible...It calls them into question, and that's what bothers some people. Most people really think that archaeology is out there to prove the Bible. No archaeologist thinks so."[52] From the beginnings of what we call biblical archeology, perhaps 150 years ago, scholars, mostly western scholars, have attempted to use archeological data to prove the Bible. And for a long time it was thought to work. William Albright, the great father of our discipline, often spoke of the "archeological revolution." Well, the revolution has come but not in the way that Albright thought. The truth of the matter today is that archeology raises more questions about the historicity of the Hebrew Bible and even the New Testament than it provides answers, and that's very disturbing to some people.[53]

Dever also wrote:

Archaeology as it is practiced today must be able to challenge, as well as confirm, the Bible stories. Some things described there really did happen, but others did not. The Biblical narratives about Abraham, Moses, Joshua and Solomon probably reflect some historical memories of people and places, but the 'larger than life' portraits of the Bible are unrealistic and contradicted by the archaeological evidence.[54]...I am not reading the Bible as Scripture… I am in fact not even a theist. My view all along—and especially in the recent books—is first that the biblical narratives are indeed 'stories,' often fictional and almost always propagandistic, but that here and there they contain some valid historical information...[55]

The home town of Jesus

According to the Gospels, the family of Jesus lived in Nazareth, and they returned there after a voluntary exile in Egypt. James Strange, an American archaeologist, notes: “Nazareth is not mentioned in ancient Jewish sources earlier than the third century AD. This likely reflects its lack of prominence both in Galilee and in Judaea.”[56] Others have argued that the absence of textual references to Nazareth in the Old Testament and the Talmud, as well as the works of Josephus, suggest that a town called 'Nazareth' did not exist in Jesus' day.[57] However, archaeological evidence of a first century dwelling in Nazareth calls the sceptical position into question.[58]

Some historians have called into question the traditional association of Nazareth with the life of the historical Jesus. Instead, they suggest that what was known of Jesus in his own time as a title, that is, (Nazarene, or even, perhaps, 'Nazarite'), was, in later times, corrupted into a cognomen of place; thereby, in effect—and apparently by design—assigning Nazareth to him as his hometown.

Notable critics

  • Bertrand Russell
  • Isaac Asimov
  • Thomas Paine
  • Albert Einstein[59]
  • Mark Twain

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Bible." The Crystal Reference Encyclopedia. West Chiltington: Crystal Reference, 2005. Credo Reference. 29 July 2009
  2. Gordon Wenham, "Exploring the Old Testament: Vol. 1, The Pentateuch", ch.2, Genesis 1–11, Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2003.
  3. Ehrman, Bart D. (2003). Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew. New York: Oxford. pp. 122–123, 185. ISBN 0-19-514183-0. 
  4. Ehrman, Bart D. (2004). The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. New York: Oxford. pp. 372–3. ISBN 0-19-515462-2.  Brown, Raymond E. (1997). Introduction to the New Testament. New York: Anchor Bible. pp. 621, 639, 654. ISBN 0-385-24767-2.  Scholars who hold to Pauline authorship include Wohlenberg, Lock, Meinertz, Thornell, Schlatter, Spicq, Jeremais, Simpson, Kelly, and Fee. Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction, p. 622.
  5. Examples of authors who argue the Jesus myth hypothesis: Thomas L. Thompson The Messiah Myth: The Near Eastern Roots of Jesus and David (Jonathan Cape, Publisher, 2006); Michael Martin, The Case Against Christianity (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1991), 36–72; John Mackinnon Robertson
  6. Freke, Timothy and Gandy, Peter (1999) The Jesus Mysteries. London: Thorsons (Harper Collins)
  7. "Bible." The Columbia Encyclopedia. New York: Columbia University Press, 2008. Credo Reference. 29 July 2009
  8. Exod. 20:14, 1631 edition of the King James Version of the Bible]].
  9. Eric Pement, Gimme the Bible that Paul used: A look at the King James Only debate online.
  10. Genesis 19:30-36
  11. "How Can We Trust a Bible that Tolerated Slavery?" Discovery Series, RBC Ministries. July 27, 2009.
  12. [1][dead link]
  13. Saugstad, Andreas. "Nietzsche & Christianity." July 28, 2009.
  14. "Contradictions from the Skeptic's Annotated Bible". Retrieved 2009-04-11. 
  15. Knight, George William, Howard Marshall, and W. Ward Gasque. The Pastoral Epistles: A Commentary on the Greek Text (New International Greek Testament Commentary). William. B. Eerdmans, 1997. ISBN 0802823955 / 9780802823953
  16. Brown, Raymond Edward (1999-05-18). The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke (The Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library). Yale University Press. p. 36. ISBN 0-300-14008-8. 
  17. W.D Davies and E. P. Sanders, 'Jesus from the Jewish point of view', in The Cambridge History of Judaism ed William Horbury, vol 3: the Early Roman Period, 1984.
  18. Sanders, Ed Parish (1993). The Historical Figure of Jesus. London: Allen Lane. p. 85. ISBN 0-7139-9059-7. 
  19. Hurtado, Larry W. (June 2003). Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans. p. 319. ISBN 0-8028-6070-2. 
  20. Brown, Raymond Edward (1977). The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in Matthew and Luke. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday. pp. 104–121. ISBN 0-385-05907-8. 
  21. The role and function of repentance in Luke-Acts, by Guy D. Nave, pg 194 – see
  22. The Continuing Christian Need for Judaism, by John Shelby Spong, Christian Century September 26, 1979, p. 918. see
  23. Feminist companion to the New Testament and early Christian writings, Volume 5, by Amy-Jill Levine, Marianne Blickenstaff, pg175 – see
  24. Nathan Busenitz, John MacArthur. Reasons We Believe. Crossway, 2008. ISBN 1433501465 / 9781433501463. Aug. 6, 2009: [2]
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 Menken, Maarten J.J. "The Textual Form of the Quotation from Isaiah 7:14 in Matthew 1:23." Novum Testamentum; 2001, Vol. 43 Issue 2, p144-160, 17p. (Maarten J. J. Menken is Professor of New Testament Exegesis at the Faculty of Catholic Theology, University of Tilburg, The Netherlands)
  26. Claus Schedl, History of the Old Testament, Volume IV, Translation of 'Geschichte des Alten Testaments', Society of St.Paul, Staten Island, New York 10314, 1972, pages 220-221
  27. Glaser,Zhava. "Almah: Virgin or Young Maiden?" Issues—A Messianic Jewish Perspective. Online: July 30, 2009.
  28. 28.0 28.1 "The Jewish Perspective on Isaiah 7:14". Retrieved 2009-04-11. 
  29. Why do Jews reject the Christian dogma of the virgin birth? The Second Jewish Book Of Why p.66 by Alfred Kolatch 1985
  30. Outreach Judaism
  31. Messiah Truth – Counter-Missionary Education
  32. Peter, Kirby (2001-2007). "Early Christian Writings: Gospel of Mark". Retrieved 2008-01-15. 
  33. Achtemeier, Paul J. (1991-). "The Gospel of Mark". The Anchor Bible Dictionary. 4. New York, New York: Doubleday. pp. 545. ISBN 0385193629. 
  34. Meier, John P. (1991). A Marginal Jew. New York, New York: Doubleday. pp. v.2 955–6. ISBN 0385469934. 
  35. Helms, Randel (1997). Who Wrote the Gospels?. Altadena, California: Millennium Press. p. 8. ISBN 0965504727. 
  36. Funk, Robert W.; Roy W. Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar (1993). The five Gospels: the search for the authentic words of Jesus: new translation and commentary. New York, New York: Macmillan. ISBN 0025419498. 
  37. Crossan, John Dominic (1991). The historical Jesus: the life of a Mediterranean Jewish peasant. San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco. ISBN 0060616296. 
  38. Eisenman, Robert J. (1998). James the Brother of Jesus: The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Penguin Books. p. 56. ISBN 014025773X. 
  39. John A.T., Robinson, Redating the New Testament, London, 1976, pages 15-19
  40. Mark 13:14
  41. Joshua 3:9-10, 15:63, and 17:12-13
  42. Herodotus, (II, 177, 1)
  43. 597 (king Jehoiachin imprisoned and exiled with many others)-538=59
  44. 44.0 44.1 "Prophecies: Imaginary and fulfilled". Retrieved 2009-04-11. 
  45. "Yahweh's Failed Land Promise, Farrell Till". Retrieved 2009-04-11. 
  46. "The Argument from the Bible (1996)". Retrieved 2009-04-11. 
  47. "Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, Brittanica Online". Retrieved 2009-04-11. 
  48. Why did the majority of the Jewish world reject Jesus as the Messiah, and why did the first Christians accept Jesus as the Messiah? by Rabbi Shraga Simmons (
  49. Michoel Drazin (1990). Their Hollow Inheritance. A Comprehensive Refutation of Christian Missionaries. Gefen Publishing House, Ltd.. ISBN 965-229-070-X. 
  50. Troki, Isaac. "Faith Strengthened".
  51. See also Corinthians 7:29-31; 1Cor7:29-31 , 15:51-54 andRomans 13:12
  52. Bible gets a reality check, MSNBC, Alan Boyle
  53. The Bible's Buried Secrets, PBS Nova, 2008
  54. Dever, William G. (March/April 2006). "The Western Cultural Tradition Is at Risk". Biblical Archaeology Review 32, No 2: 26 & 76. 
  55. Dever, William G. (January 2003). "Contra Davies". The Bible and Interpretation. Retrieved 2007-02-12. 
  56. Article "Nazareth" in the Anchor Bible Dictionary. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
  57. T. Cheyne, “Nazareth.” Encyclopedia Biblica. London: Adam and Charles Black, 1899, Col. 3360. R. Eisenman, James the Brother of Jesus. New York: Penguin Books, 1997, p. 952.
  58. Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Residential building from the time of Jesus exposed in Nazareth
  59. Einstein: "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." [3]

External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Criticism of the Bible. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.