Biblical Authors: Faithful Frauds?

Who penned the Bible? Exactly! Nobody knows yet the Judeo-Christian world surely gives a hunk of credence to these unnamed men living in the arid hills of Judea in the late Neolithic Age. In the book, How the Bible Became a Book,  biblical scholar William Schniedewind, the Kershaw Chair of Ancient Eastern Mediterranean Studies at UCLA,  muses, “So how and why did such a pastoral-agrarian society come to write down and give authority to the written word?.” How indeed?

There is the rub. Further, why do people living 28 centuries later ‘give authority’ to that written word? Faith, many say. Yet how can we ‘believe’ that these writers weren’t shysters? Knowing what we know about televangelists and a clutch of exposed and shamed preachers and pastors, how do we know the same isn’t true of the biblical authors?

Believers do not ask nor answer such questions because of their ‘faith.’ Good for them, yet that answer will not suffice any longer in this post-modern era.

Schniedewind states, “In ancient Palestine, writing was a restricted and expensive technology. Writing was controlled by the government and manipulated by the priests. Writing was seen as a gift from the gods. It was not used to canonize religious practice, but rather to engender religious awe. Writing was magical. It was powerful. It was the guarded knowledge of political and religious elites.

The word ‘magical’ strikes a cord. Magic was powerful in that world of myth and spirits and, as a result, magic assumed credence. It is no wonder, then, that the “Word” which was printed became sacred to the Israelites. “Biblical literature became a tool that legitimated and furthered the priests’ political and religious authority,” says the author. Authority and power.

During the Babylonian Captivity, the author states, “the priests who took over the leadership of the Jewish community during this period preserved and edited biblical literature. Biblical literature became a tool that legitimated and furthered the priests’ political and religious authority.” During this confusing and dark time, it was the priests knowledge of the writing that gave both the priests and the writings exceptional importance.

The result of all of this brings into focus the question: What did these authors and priests really know about God, the Creator of the Universe? This group of scribes didn’t even know that the Earth revolved around the Sun, didn’t know the Sun was a star, didn’t know of galaxies, dark matter, black holes or even that a comet was an ice and rock cluster. Yet these men with their late Neolithic, nomadic minds wrote about something that they could never have known- the Creator of the Universe.

it had to be fiction, pure guessing. And what was the result? Who did this “God” become? ‘He’ became human-like filled with human emotion, wrathful, vengeful and loving and protective. He was, for lack of a better term, Superman Dad

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