Bible scholars the world over have long known about the many discrepancies and contradictions in the bible. And while your common-or-garden parish priest can at least fallback on the argument that it’s all somewhat above his pay grade, to inform his flock about these facts, his superiors in the church have no such luxury.
We regularly have guests on the podcast who seem surprisingly untroubled by the notion that the very experts upon whom they ultimately rely, when they begin their screed with the sentence “Jesus said…”, are in total agreement with one another on some startling facts, surrounding the basic Jesus story.
For instance, the fact that Saul of Tarsus never writes about the life of a physical human being, but refers only to Jesus as a spirit, and that most of his letters are provable forgeries. Or that Mathew and Mark’s gospels are almost completely contradicted by that of John’s, and that all three borrow from Luke, who borrowed from Josephus, whose only reference to Jesus in his 1st century tome “Antiquities of the Jews” is acknowledged the world over as a fake by every bible scholar outside of those tied to Americanised evangelicalism.
A possible reason for their apparent lack of concern for these facts, is that many apologists share one very telling trait; that no amount of evidence and reasoned argument can trump the faith card. Their inability to see what is completely obvious to everyone else; that believing something and proving something are two completely different things — enables them to split their brain in two, and hold completely contradictory opinions on certain matters, while believing that this is itself a component of faith; that it is not for mere humans to understand the ways of a god they only believe in because they are compelled to by the very biblical text which has been so resoundingly falsified.
The game of switcheroo they must then play, when presented with these facts, has become so heavily steeped in loaded terminology, that when they find themselves in need of an answer to an awkward question from an atheist friend, they dive headfirst into a pool of sounds-like-an-answer-but-isn’t-an-answer religious in-speak, without paying any mind as to where their words are actually coming from. Their very eagerness to avoid such questions, and get back onto a topic they think they know, has the rather amusing effect of highlighting how little they actually understand about their own religion.
Of those Christian scholars who have thought to make basic enquiries, for example into the efforts made throughout the centuries to solve some of the bible’s many contradictions, many have started out as evangelical warriors for Jesus, on a mission to convert the world to Christianity and send the atheists packing. Few of them have remained as certain of their belief that Jesus was the creator of the universe in human form, once the problems thrown up by their own investigations begin to pile up.
One well known example of this, is the author Bart Ehrman, who began as a graduate of Moody Bible Institute, and found himself writing a number of best selling books, on his journey towards agnosticism, including ‘Misquoting Jesus’, ‘God’s Problem’, and ‘Jesus, Interrupted’. Each of these books are an excellent read, but they rely heavily on the real nitty gritty of the academic process; the near endless lists of ancient historians with almost impossible to pronounce names and political axes to grind, which tends to make Ehrman’s books a little heavy going, once you get beyond the opening chapters.
David Fitzgerald takes a different approach. In his book ‘Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed at All’, he enumerates the origin of ten myths, commonly associated with the Jesus story, and traces their lineage throughout the early Christian movement.
In the below video, David talks us through a brief overview of his work, by way of a few example passages from the bible, which Christian apologists continue to use when debating with the non-religious, despite that they’re provably false.
While he’s clearly nervous addressing a large audience, some of Fitzgerald’s set-ups are among the clearest explanations of certain biblical contradictions I’ve yet to hear, and I look forward to a healthy comment thread, once the usual crowd have either turned off their caps-lock key, or run out of ways to try and change the subject.