Who Wrote The Bible?

This is a very well produced British documentary by Dr. Robert Beckford on Who Wrote The Bible? Although he's a believer, there is some very informative stuff here that conservative Christians need to learn. He sums up what he's saying in the last 10 chilling minutes. Definitely some great stuff here and worth a look.

11 comments:

Philip said...

FYI: Looks like the video has already been (re)moved.

A search turned it up here: Who wrote the bible?

HeIsSailing said...

I enjoyed it, thanks for sharing. It sounds like I am at about the same point Robert Beckford is in his Christianity - just investigating the claims of our faith and discovering that the messy origins of our Bible are not what we have been taught from the pulpit.
Yeah, the last few minutes is pretty chilling. Pastor Land may not want to put intellect into his faith, but to use that same lack of intellect to lead our country by faith is indeed something that should concern all Americans.

John W. Loftus said...

HeIsSailing, I think that is what alarms Sam Harris and the rest of us about the relationship of faith to politics. I wish more people would take a look at it.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Much thanks for this -- and I wonder how many people will avoid it because it was uploaded from 'islamic videos net'? (Which is curious. It's true that Muslims like to argue that the Testaments are corrupt, while claiming theirs are not, but Beckford treats Adam and Noah as folklore, and Abraham as dubious, when all three -- along with Jesus -- are treated as prophets in Islam. And I wonder how many young Muslims who see it will be tempted to do their own investigation of 'who wrote the Qur'an' with similar results. Of course, unlike Beckford, they can't do this sort of investigation in the original sites -- and it is dubious if a documentary would get shown.)

But what I find most fascinating is the way the 'climate of opinion' has changed over the years. When i first started looking into this in the mid-sixties, all the 'surprising discoveries' that Beckford makes were almost cliches. No scholar I came across in my reading would have maintained that Moses wrote the Torah, or that the Evangelists were 'eyewitnesses,' or that it was even possible to reconcile the Synoptics with John.

In fact, a course I took at Columbia -- taught by the Chaplain of the University -- used Morton Scott Enslin's THE LITERATURE OF THE CHRISTIAN MOVEMENT as a text. Few of Beckford's points would have been surprising to Enslin -- though his book predated the Nag Hammadi discoveries and didn't deal with the Apocryphal Gospels at all. In fact, Enslin would have gotten Beckford to look more closely at the Epistles and question the authorship of some of them. Yet Enslin was a believer, so professed. and -- if a 'liberal' -- hardly considered a radical. In fact he was the long-time editor of the JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE.

(Something I had not known at the time, or until today, was that one student in Enslin's course on the history and literature of the New Testament was Martin Luther King -- he received a B -- and a paper he wrote for the course is available on-line at http://www.stanford.edu/group/King/publications/papers/vol1/490216-The_Ethics_of_Late_Judaism.htm
Irrelevant, and digressing, I know, but I was so surprised to discover this I had to pass it on.)

At this time, I doubt if you would have found an arguer for inerrancy at any serious University and it might have been said that any academic department that had more than one or two would have ruled itself out as a serious source. Inerrantists were -- I'd argue, correctly -- viewed with as much respect as a young-earth creationist would be today.

The 'four sources' of the Torah were such a cliche that Bloom (not sure which one) was able to write a book on "J" which makes the somewhat puckish suggestion that "J" may have been a woman, and would have been found in almost any book on the Bible. And even Beckford's discoveries of the archeological truth about King David and other matters was included in a fairly recent translation of the Torah by a Conservative (not Reform) Jewish group.

And yet the climate of opinion seems to have swung so much that Beckford's discoveries could be treated as new and 'challenging.'

(Another digression I discovered in Googling Enslin, both CHRISTIAN BEGINNINGS -- which includes THE LITERATURE OF THE CHRISTIAN MOVEMENT and his THE PROPHET FROM NAZARETH -- which I haven't read until now -- are available on-line without subscription at Questia.)

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Oops, while the Google listing says it is available for free, the books do seem to need a Questia subscription, which is definitely worth it. (You can get a 72 hour free trial.)

Jason Hatherly said...

I watched the whole thing. Not bad. Even at nearly 2 hours it could use some substantial fleshing out, but I would imagine that it must be difficult to present that amount of information in that format. As one might expect, I found some of the responses to the issues raised a bit weak, but it's still leagues beyond what I would expect from the usual TV fare. 8/10

Lee Randolph said...

A couple of points I'd like to comment on
- Robert Beckford didn't mention the texts found in Ugarit that were earlier than the Torah, written about other gods and appear verbatim in the old testament, or the texts about other gods that appear paraphrased, which you can read about in Mark Smiths "Early history of God...".

- Robert was interviewing the head of the bible institute at the Vatican, and when asked about the role the holy spirit played in preventing the influence of negative factors such as bias ignorance prejudice he said
"when you have a human group there is bias and ignorance present, thats just the human reality, but hopefully when you have this large group of people working together that the final out come is the outcome that was desired by the spirit".
When the interviewer comments "that sounds like pot luck", the vatican rep. said that "the spirit works very quietly".
That sounds like a euphemism for "doesn't look like he was there".

Then Robert poses a rhetorical question
"cannon formation is all about a group of rich and powerful people putting a text together and deciding who they want to include in orthodoxy and who they want to exclude, now where's the spirit in this?"

to which he answers

"the spirit is at work today, the spirit gives you the ability to see the bias the ignorance and the prejudice and raise questions about the legitimacy and accuracy about what took place."

Can anyone explain to me why it takes a supernatural agent to see that and how it follows that if an agent has established a pattern of not meeting expectations, that the same agent would meet expectations in the future?
I say the holy spirit was not doing its job back then I don't see it doing its job now.

wardfrey said...

The previous poster makes a superb logical criticism of Beckord's fuzzy theological mirages. I know Robert...we were roomates at college in Canada ( A Bible College ), which is always convieniently absent from his academic credtials. I debated many times with Robert...he was a good man, but I always sensed he had issues with orthodx Christianity which were not based on logic, but emotional luggage he carried from his experience as a black man in a largely 'white' controlled western world. I understand his emotions, just wish they never took the turn towards negativity towards Orthodoxy under the guise of scholarship and reason.

Andrew Godfrey, Seoul, South Korea

wardfrey said...

The previous poster makes a superb logical criticism of Beckord's fuzzy theological mirages. I know Robert...we were roomates at college in Canada ( A Bible College ), which is always convieniently absent from his academic credtials. I debated many times with Robert...he was a good man, but I always sensed he had issues with orthodx Christianity which were not based on logic, but emotional luggage he carried from his experience as a black man in a largely 'white' controlled western world. I understand his emotions, just wish they never took the turn towards negativity towards Orthodoxy under the guise of scholarship and reason.

Andrew Godfrey, Seoul, South Korea

wardfrey said...

The previous poster makes a superb logical criticism of Beckford's fuzzy theological mirages. I know Robert...we were roomates at college in Canada ( a bible college ), which is always convieniently absent from his academic credentials. I debated many times with Robert...he was a good man, but I always sensed he had issues with orthodox Christianity which were not based on logic, but rather on emotional luggage he carried from his experience as a black man in a largely 'white' controlled western world. I understand his emotions, just wish they never took the turn to negativity towards Orthodoxy under the guise of scholarship and reason that they have obviously taken.

Andrew Godfrey, Seoul, South Korea

Tanya said...

I watched the "who wrote the Bible" yesterday and I am looking for comments from other Christians and Theologians.

I as most Christians believe that the Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

Also Jesus teachings and the core foundation of Christianity and God`s nature are contridicted by many other Scriptures, I have read alot of it and I agree they are not divinely inspired.

The Holy Spirit uses who it wants to use, I dont understand how someone can claim to be Christian but claim that the Bible is the word as intepreted by Man.

It is impossible for that person be to considered Christian! You cannot chose from the Bible what u want and leave the rest out. If u dont believe in 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Then you dont believe.

Also the four Gospels together tell a story. And in the Bible God promises that the Word we have is His Word. So that tells me that if our True God is all conquering and so great, he will make sure that His Word is pure.

Charl