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Who Wrote The Books Of The New Testament? Part 1

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hockeyfan70

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Debunking Christianity is an interesting thing to attempt to do. On one hand, it's kind of easy because there is so much information out there. If there were only a few discrepancies contained in the Bible, or a few inconsistencies, it would take some time to dig them out. But that's not the case. The Bible is filled with errors. On the other hand, it's difficult because as I continue to research and see for myself some of these discrepancies, I find myself having to stop and reflect. This is due to a couple of reasons:

1. Some of what I'm researching and learning are things I really should have known. I was involved in a program when I was in high school, where we learned whole books of the Bible and quizzed over them. I have memorized tons of Scripture. You would think that in doing so I would have caught on to some of the differences between the Gospels, for example. But most of this stuff I had no idea.

2. As I look through this information, I wonder why this stuff wasn't taught in college, and why we gloss over the inconsistencies and errors when we preach and teach the Bible. I can only think of it in two ways: either, like me, church leaders just don't know that the things we preach about are coming from passages and books of the Bible that are not accurate; or most leaders, preachers and professors are willfully deceiving people. After all, if word gets out that there is no way that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, people are going to panic and freak out and lose their faith. Which means those who are in powerful positions in churches will lose power and prestige. And there won't be anyone around to pay for their salaries.

It's kind of like how I see Mormonism. I have studied this cult rather extensively. If you research the history of how Mormonism started; if you look at the life of its founder, Joseph Smith; and if you actually discover what they truly believe, you find out that what the people in the pews know about Mormonism, and what the overall leaders know about Mormonism, are completely different. When I talk to the average Mormon, what they say they believe sounds very similar to what I would have considered as Christianity. Except for the polygamy and not having caffeine, minor issues. But when you find out that their "god" was on another planet, and that there are millions of gods, and that we were all spirit babies born on earth, and that our goal is to populate our own planet with other spirit babies - well, it starts to sound like horseshit, doesn't it?

Anyway, today I want to briefly look at the New Testament. In fact, I think that most of this blog will be directed at the NT, although I may reference the Old Testament and if I continue on down the road, perhaps there will be time to do the OT as well.

Ready for some shocking information? Ok, here we start.

The New Testament contains 27 different books. The first four books are what we call the Gospels, or "good news" about Jesus. These were allegedly written by two disciples (Matthew and John), a friend of Peter (Mark), and a traveling companion of Paul (Luke). The next book tells the story about the disciples after Jesus left earth, and it's called the Acts of the Apostles (or Acts for short). Then you have a bunch of collected letters. Most of them are claimed to be written by the apostle Paul, who was not an original disciple of Jesus but became an apostle after Jesus left the earth through a vision on the road to Damascus. Some of these letters are written to churches, some are written to friends. You also have letters supposedly written by the apostle Peter, by James the brother of Jesus, by Jude, also the brother of Jesus, and by someone named John. At the end of the NT is the book of Revelation, also written by someone named John, which is a letter to churches in Asia Minor and deals mostly with persecution and although some people would say differently, was supposed to encourage the Christians of that day that God wins in the end. (As opposed to those who pore over this book and apply modern technology to the things that John was writing about to show that the world is ending soon.)

Ready for the shocker? Out of the 27 books in the NT, there are only 8 of them that most biblical scholars believe were actually written by either who the book said within who it was written by, or who other people ascribe the authorship to. That's less than a third of them! Here are the books that except for some fringe scholars, the consensus is that they were written by the actual authors:

Romans (Paul)
1 Corinthians (Paul)
2 Corinthians (Paul)
Galatians (Paul)
Philippians (Paul)
1 Thessalonians (Paul)
Philemon (Paul)
Revelation (John, although some question if it was John the brother of James)

This means that most scholars would say that none of the gospels were written by those who they are ascribed to.

This means that some of these books were written later than what was thought and by people who claimed to be the author but weren't.

I don't know about you, but the implications are HUGE. Those who would rather shut their brain off might not necessarily be affected by this news, because they might think (or feel) that it doesn't matter that these books weren't written by the people they thought they were written by; they still had a lot of good things to say.

However, I can't accept that. I hope you can't either. There are major implications that you just have to start sorting through. Things like:

- how can we trust that we have anything correct when it comes to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, since the Gospels were not written by eyewitnesses to these events, nor even friends of eyewitnesses?

- how can we apply some of the theology and orthopraxy contained within the letters of the NT, when most of them are written by unknown sources, and who definitely had other agendas besides "writing down what God said to them."

- how can we continue to ignore the differences in gospel accounts when we now have good reasons to understand why they are so different?

- how can one accept the entire Bible, or even just the entire NT, as the "Word of God?" Should we do what Thomas Jefferson did (although he did his with cutting out anything that talked about miraculous events in the gospels) and only pay attention to the books of the NT that we mostly know were written by the right people at the time they said they did?

We have a lot to go through, my friend. Let me close this blog post with something from Bart Ehrman. Although I am using research from many different sources, I like Ehrman a lot because he writes in a way that is easy to understand, and although he is an agnostic, he was a Christian for most of his life and is at least sympathetic towards the Bible and Christians in general. He says that the nineteen books that aren't written by the authors ascribed to them fall under three groups:

1. Misattributed writings

These are the books of the New Testament that tradition has said were written by an author that clearly did not write it. An example would be the book of Hebrews. There is unsurmountable evidence that even though Paul has been associated as the author of this book, there is no way he was the one who wrote it. Because within Hebrews itself there is no reference to the author, Paul was misattributed as the author.

2. Homonymous writings

This just means that the author of a certain book of the New Testament has the same name as someone who we would normally think of as the author. For example, James was a very common name back in those times; therefore a man named James could have written the book, however most scholars believe it was not the James who was Jesus' brother and a leader in the church of Jerusalem.

3. Pseudepigraphic writings

This means that some of the books of the New Testament were written in the names of people who didn't write them. Basically, these books are forgeries.

In my next blog post, I will talk about Ehrman's ten reasons as to why ancient writers would produce forgeries and then we will start getting into specific authorship of the questioned books of the New Testament.

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Very few Christians are aware of the historical critical field of study. Mainline denominational preachers study this in seminary, but as noted they don't tell their congregations about the true history of the Bible & the Christian Faith. If they did they would likely be fired or they would lose a lot of members. So they teach & preach the Sunday School version of the Bible.

 

Hard core conservative versions of Xianity do not teach the historical/critical perspective. Their seminaries & schools of preaching teach the traditional Sunday School version of the Bible &.Christianity. Any professor that deviates from that would be fired on the spot. 

 

Its all a farce. 

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