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Just Starting To Doubt - Question About The Bible


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Guest kriscmh

A little about me - I was raised in a conservative Christian home, attended a conservative Christian college and seminary, and was in the ministry. I left the ministry several years ago and have been on a slow drift toward a more liberal perspective. I have attended a very liberal Lutheran church for the past 5 years. I have pretty much left all of my fundamentalist baggage behind. I have recently started to doubt God's existence. I have read Sam Harris' book The End of Faith and am currently reading Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion.

 

My question - I can accept that much of what is recorded in the Bible did not really happen. I do, however, still see a common thread throughout the Bible that seems difficult to explain from strictly a human perspective. Through the whole OT and into the NT there is this common unified theme of the Messiah and of the Jews as God's chosen people - all written by many different authors over hundreds of years. How does one explain the unity of all this? Also, there just seems to be something to the Bible's claim about the Jewish people. The history of the Jewish people - their accomplishments - their oppression by others - their ability to survive - the current situation in the Middle East - all seem to be either predicted or supported by things in the Bible. I dont know if this is making any sense, but there just seems to be something about the Bible's main message about the Jews and the Messiah (Jesus) that seems to have truth to it when looking at history and even the current situation in the Middle East (and biblical prophecy). Any thoughts on this? Thanks!

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....Through the whole OT and into the NT there is this common unified theme of the Messiah and of the Jews as God's chosen people - all written by many different authors over hundreds of years. How does one explain the unity of all this?....

 

Easy, they did not write in isolation. The authors had read all the available literature that was available to them. They just continued with the same theme.

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Is there really compelling unity though or just selective interpretation? As Dave also pointed out, parts of the bible didn't evolve separately on say the Galapagos Islands. It started with oral traditions and evolved over time as Jewish scholars added to it. They were not, I think, uneducated in the writings of their own history. It's not like the common sheep herder was literate or anything. Those who could write were familiar.

 

I still have a hard time seeing that there is an overwhelming and compelling unity throughout the book that cannot be easily explained in natural terms. Rather, if there were some supernatural weaving of the story, why is it primarily just so damned imperfect? I mean, 1 god, three gods, many gods, don't eat this, do that, now it's ok to eat this and do that, except for this. The begats don't even measure up against writers.

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My question - I can accept that much of what is recorded in the Bible did not really happen. I do, however, still see a common thread throughout the Bible that seems difficult to explain from strictly a human perspective. Through the whole OT and into the NT there is this common unified theme of the Messiah and of the Jews as God's chosen people - all written by many different authors over hundreds of years. How does one explain the unity of all this? Also, there just seems to be something to the Bible's claim about the Jewish people. The history of the Jewish people - their accomplishments - their oppression by others - their ability to survive - the current situation in the Middle East - all seem to be either predicted or supported by things in the Bible. I dont know if this is making any sense, but there just seems to be something about the Bible's main message about the Jews and the Messiah (Jesus) that seems to have truth to it when looking at history and even the current situation in the Middle East (and biblical prophecy). Any thoughts on this? Thanks!

I think you ask fair questions. Consider this. Did the Hebrew bible start with Genesis and then Exodus was added then Leviticus then Number and so on right on down the line? Is that how it was written? If so, then your hypothesis makes perfect sense and is quite reasonable. How could a library of books, a single scroll as it were, do such a thing without help?

 

The answer, of course, is that it couldn't. But the help is far from being supernatural. The help is quite human. Editors have had their hand in the Hebrew bible. Many books have been written that didn't make the cut, but have influenced both what the we call the OT and NT. Take a look at www.earlyjewishwritings.com and www.earlychristianwritings.com for these. Then, once the xians came around and start messing about, the Jews closed the cannon and humans once again picked what was to be the Hebrew bible.

 

These people had in their minds what their beliefs were and certainly it is no wonder that the texts that did not align themselves with those beliefs were discarded. This makes for a very "unified" feel. But there is not one scroll that started with "In the beginning ..." and was added on to over and over without a single edit. That would be truly amazing.

 

All these same things basically apply to the NT as well.

 

Also, as far as the prophecy goes, you should brush up on your Jewish religion. If this prophecy is so prevalent then why is it the Jews still don't see it? They've had an additional 2000 years to study THEIR scripture (not xian scripture but their own) and they still cannot see the prophecy. The reason is because it really isn't there. The xians have twisted it so far around that if you read HOW Jewish prophecy is supposed to work then you cannot simply pick and choose a sentence here and a sentence there. The passages matter and those prophecies relate to other things or have come to pass. The few items that do relate to a messiah simply cannot apply to the person of jesus since he failed to do the other items in the same prophecy (one major item is he died...which ends the whole thing).

 

Anyhow, that's enough for now, but I think that should be more than enough to get you started on your way to seeing that the xians simply have a slick marketing department but the actual product is lacking. :)

 

mwc

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Welcome!

 

I would like to suggest that you speak with Open_Minded. She is involved in a Lutheran Church that has allowed contemplative Christianity to be a part of the them.

 

Next, I would suggest studying some comparative mythology or comparative religions and seeing that it doesn't have to be all true or untrue. There are many things that are true about myths, and with this understanding I have found there is way more meaning in the bible than I could have ever thought.

 

Also, there are attempts by people at that time to integrate Christianity with the Old Testament. Even going so far as misinterpreting some of the OT verses.

 

All of these things are parts of the compilation of the bible (I'm sure there's more). But, indeed, there are messages that are as relevant today as they were then. You just have to get beyond the mindset that they are talking about an actual occurance in some instances. You can usually recognize this when things that don't exist or are impossible are brought in.

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I would like to suggest that you speak with Open_Minded. She is involved in a Lutheran Church that has allowed contemplative Christianity to be a part of the them.
Did I hear my name being called??? :wicked:

 

Next, I would suggest studying some comparative mythology or comparative religions and seeing that it doesn't have to be all true or untrue. There are many things that are true about myths, and with this understanding I have found there is way more meaning in the bible than I could have ever thought.
NotBlinded - ILWYT

 

 

A little about me - I was raised in a conservative Christian home, attended a conservative Christian college and seminary, and was in the ministry. I left the ministry several years ago and have been on a slow drift toward a more liberal perspective. I have attended a very liberal Lutheran church for the past 5 years. I have pretty much left all of my fundamentalist baggage behind. I have recently started to doubt God's existence. I have read Sam Harris' book The End of Faith and am currently reading Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion.

 

My question - I can accept that much of what is recorded in the Bible did not really happen. I do, however, still see a common thread throughout the Bible that seems difficult to explain from strictly a human perspective. Through the whole OT and into the NT there is this common unified theme of the Messiah and of the Jews as God's chosen people - all written by many different authors over hundreds of years. How does one explain the unity of all this? Also, there just seems to be something to the Bible's claim about the Jewish people. The history of the Jewish people - their accomplishments - their oppression by others - their ability to survive - the current situation in the Middle East - all seem to be either predicted or supported by things in the Bible. I dont know if this is making any sense, but there just seems to be something about the Bible's main message about the Jews and the Messiah (Jesus) that seems to have truth to it when looking at history and even the current situation in the Middle East (and biblical prophecy). Any thoughts on this? Thanks!

 

Hello Kriscmh - welcome on board.

 

I also attend a liberal Lutheran church. :)

 

Unlike you, I was never expected to read the Bible literally - so I've never had the struggle of "fundamentalist baggage". My parents have - I've watched them struggle through it. But, they freed us children from ever having to deal with it. We were all taught to read the Bible in context - we were also taught a deep appreciation for different world religions.

 

In addition to what NotBlinded wrote...... You mention seeing a "common thread throughout the Bible". You may want to check out the following website: http://origin.org/ucs/ws/ws.cfm and World Scriptures. For me, it is fascinating to see the common thread of all the world's major religious tradition. Whether theistic or non-theistic all the traditions have many parallels.

 

At our Lutheran Church we have a meditative/interfaith group. In addition to the regular and contemporary service formats - our congregation also has a third Sunday morning service format which is meditative/interfaith in nature. We read texts from the World Scriptures around a common theme every Sunday. We intentionally come together for meditation and exploring the commonalities between the world's major religions.

 

The common threads you see throughout the Bible are important. I do consider myself Christian (after many years self-identifying as Deist). Jesus is important to me, but when I look at him I see the Word (or Logos) made flesh. It is not necessary (within my congregation) to look at Jesus and believe literally that his was a virgin birth. Nor is it necessary (within my congregation) to view the resurrection in a literalist way. It is also not necessary within the larger Christian tradition to read these things literally - the way one would read a history book.

 

Our world is growing increasingly smaller and more diverse at local levels. Literalism is increasingly becoming irrelevant in the face of hard realities such as having to live next door, work with and interact with people different from oneself. You're questioning is a good thing - keep an open-mind (no pun intended) and follow the path as it unfolds. You will find the answers you need.

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As you are considering this, don't forget that there are a wealth of apocryphal writings that didn't make the cut. Writings that may offer a slightly different perspective. If the collection of writings that were canonized seem to have a common theme, it is no miracle. It was all processed through the filter of human preference and selection (not to mention possibly extensive editing) long before Zondervan published it.

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As you are considering this, don't forget that there are a wealth of apocryphal writings that didn't make the cut. Writings that may offer a slightly different perspective. If the collection of writings that were canonized seem to have a common theme, it is no miracle. It was all processed through the filter of human preference and selection (not to mention possibly extensive editing) long before Zondervan published it.
Absolutely True, Mythra....

 

Early Christianity was very diverse in it's beliefs about Jesus - that diversity was intentionally squashed for political reasons.

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As you are considering this, don't forget that there are a wealth of apocryphal writings that didn't make the cut. Writings that may offer a slightly different perspective. If the collection of writings that were canonized seem to have a common theme, it is no miracle. It was all processed through the filter of human preference and selection (not to mention possibly extensive editing) long before Zondervan published it.

 

But I thought it was full of contradictions? Why didn't they get rid of these? :HaHa:

 

My mantra over and over is: The Bible is not the Word of God; Jesus is. The Bible is a guidebook, but not the whole trip. You can read about Europe in a travel guide; but giong to Europe is so much better!

 

-CC in MA

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My mantra over and over is: The Bible is not the Word of God; Jesus is.

 

Well, that's a nice mantra. Personally I prefer "ommmmmm".

 

But, do you have some personal information about jesus that doesn't come from the bible? Aside from tingly feelings, I mean.

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....Through the whole OT and into the NT there is this common unified theme of the Messiah and of the Jews as God's chosen people - all written by many different authors over hundreds of years. How does one explain the unity of all this?....

 

If this theme were so "unified" then why do most Jews refuse to accept Jebus as the Messiah?

 

Jebus does not meet up with the requirements in the Old Testament for a Messiah in any way. Click here and read why Orthodox Jews do not accept Jebus.

 

Now, since Xianity sprang from Judaism, why would the very people who brought us Judaism not accept Jebus as being the fulfillment of that religion? And do not let Xian evangelists try to bullshit you with spin from the New Testament about how the Jews won't accept Jebus until such and such a time or such and such an event happens - insist on strictly logical explanations.

 

And the logical explanation is that the Jews, the people who know the most about Judaism, do not accept Jebus as their messiah because they know why Jebus simply doesn't qualify for the job.

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My mantra over and over is: The Bible is not the Word of God; Jesus is.

 

Well, that's a nice mantra. Personally I prefer "ommmmmm".

Me too! My daugher also does this sometimes when she wants to settle down...or just to be funny. :)

 

But, do you have some personal information about jesus that doesn't come from the bible? Aside from tingly feelings, I mean.

That's all it can ever be is tingly feelings and it's really related to what he was saying, not who he was, IMO. This feeling comes from anything that makes you go....wow. But, it is supposed to be left in the emotions, not be brought out as some "thing". This is the error, IMO. :shrug:

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But I thought it was full of contradictions? Why didn't they get rid of these? :HaHa:

Their computers weren't as easy to use as ours so the contradictions weren't so simple for them to spot. They did their best with what they had I'm sure.

 

My mantra over and over is: The Bible is not the Word of God; Jesus is.

And jesus is the "word" of god, a single god of many at that time, according to...the anonymous author of G.John? That's quite an amazing endorsement. Especially considering that there is the chance that the entire introduction was added later just like the final chapter (or two) were. In the beginning wasn't the word, but the word was a later addition and the word was now with G.John. It's much more poetic in the original. ;)

 

There are more mentions of dragons and other beasties by much better, and identifiable, authors. The "world" over even. Perhaps we should hang our hats on their testimonies instead before we allow the anonymous G.John to steal the idea of the word/spirit/logos (among others) and apply it to this jesus character in his somewhat original story (he did write it rather late after all)?

 

mwc

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If this theme were so "unified" then why do most Jews refuse to accept Jebus as the Messiah?

 

Jebus does not meet up with the requirements in the Old Testament for a Messiah in any way. Click here and read why Orthodox Jews do not accept Jebus.

 

Now, since Xianity sprang from Judaism, why would the very people who brought us Judaism not accept Jebus as being the fulfillment of that religion? And do not let Xian evangelists try to bullshit you with spin from the New Testament about how the Jews won't accept Jebus until such and such a time or such and such an event happens - insist on strictly logical explanations.

 

And the logical explanation is that the Jews, the people who know the most about Judaism, do not accept Jebus as their messiah because they know why Jebus simply doesn't qualify for the job.

 

There is no such thing as "the Jews," of course.

 

But most (nearly all) of the early followers of Jesus were Jews. All the apostles were Jews. The early church was headquartered in Jerusalem and run by Jews. The entire New Testament, except perhaps Luke-Acts, was written by Jews. Even today, there is large Messianic Jewish movement of Jews who are Jews and want to be Jews, but also believe that Yeshua (Jesus) was the Moshiach (Messiah, Christ).

 

Yes, many did not "accept" Jesus as "Messiah." This point lends credibility to the historicity of the narrative. (For me.) The contradictions, varying viewpoints, controversies, arguments, etc., all make it much more historical. The NT is not monolithic and tidy. Hip-hip-hooray.

 

-CC in MA

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My mantra over and over is: The Bible is not the Word of God; Jesus is.

 

Nice mantra, but it doesn't work. You have no direct quotes from this Jesus guy. You don't even have any evidence that he ever existed. If the bible is not the infallible word of a god, then the WHOLE book must be questioned, not just the parts you don't like.

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My mantra over and over is: The Bible is not the Word of God; Jesus is.

 

Nice mantra, but it doesn't work. You have no direct quotes from this Jesus guy. You don't even have any evidence that he ever existed. If the bible is not the infallible word of a god, then the WHOLE book must be questioned, not just the parts you don't like.

 

It's like any other ancient book of history. You have to be careful with it; weigh the sources; consider the evidence, and then make an educated guess. No different from the writings of Josephus or Herodotus. Seems to me.

 

-CC in MA

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It's like any other ancient book of history. You have to be careful with it; weigh the sources; consider the evidence, and then make an educated guess. No different from the writings of Josephus or Herodotus. Seems to me.

Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner!

 

We know NOTHING of the sources of ANY of the texts of the bible. Not one single solitary person. We don't know who they were. We don't know who their circle of friends were. Nothing. Not one single thing. They are anonymous to history. And none MORE than the authors of the gospels.

 

They aren't even NAMED until Papias names them...and then we only get that from Iraneous as second hand information (ie. Iraneous says that Papias says that Matthew wrote ...). Also, Papias, in this same second hand report, is shown to be in error about nearly every other thing he speaks of. So just how reliable is any of this exactly? Not very. And without any way to corroborate his story there's no reason to extend him the benefit of the doubt.

 

Since Papias is the first to name them we might even assume that he may have even coined the names and backstories (or been among those who did) and later usage are a reflection of that (such as when the term "rock and roll" was coined in regard to music...later usage would not confirm a parallel development but rather stemmed from that other earlier usage).

 

Of course, Iraneous could have simply "invented" Papias to place himself closer to the early church movement and give his own words more weight. Given the things he attributes to Papias, however, this seems unlikely but it does mean that Iraneous does "agree" to a number of odd things by including the quotes the way he does (not that quoting someone means you agree with them but it's the way he does it...also considering the effort needed to include a quote back then as well).

 

As far as Herodotus, you should not be using him. He gets the occasional "win" (he just might have gotten a point for the Etruscans) but he's not the highest rated historian of his day by any means. At least he seems honest in that he says he's just reporting what he's heard as opposed to what he knows personally. Many people just like his "style." I might have to revisit him when I get the chance.

 

mwc

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It's like any other ancient book of history. You have to be careful with it; weigh the sources; consider the evidence, and then make an educated guess. No different from the writings of Josephus or Herodotus. Seems to me.

 

The bible is not a history book, nor is it historically accurate. And it is different in that no one is claiming our society is based on the writing of Josephus, Herodotus, or any other "historian." The bible, and it's supporters, make special claims about their book; therefore it deserves special treatment - and a higher level of skepticism. To believe every word of one part as the unexpurgated truth, but not the rest, is not a rational way to look at it.

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Well, mwc, it depends on how you read 'em.

 

My reading of the gospels, Acts, and epistles finds great merit in their historicity -- in terms of the overall account of the life of Jesus and the early years of the Jesus movement.

 

One's "educated guess" might be different from that of another, of course, but I see no reason at all to dismiss that Luke and Acts, for example, were written by the companion of Paul. It seems quite reasonable to me. In fact, the other hypotheses seem quite unreasonable.

 

Like beauty, much is in the eye of the beholder. Methinks.

 

-CC in MA

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Hi Kriscmh, Welcome to Ex-C!

 

I, like you had questions pertaining to Judaism and it's relation to Christianity, I wanted to know all the whys and how's. My search was for the "real" truth. I didn't want dogma I wanted the facts of God, I wanted a full understanding of god as to learn how better to live. First, I wanted the truth more then anything, but be careful what you wish for, there's no going back, once you're face to face with the truth it can have an extremely emotional draining and even stressful outcome.

 

I know on my search for answers, the only thing I kept focusing on was death and doom. Almost paralyzed with fear at one point in my life, I'm happy to report I'm past that today. Thanks to, largely this place, Dr's and Paxil, Which I'm no longer on. As Christians the afterlife and heaven & Hell is all that we're taught to dwell on and focus on, it's a very hard thing to unlearn. Maybe not logically, but emotionally it is.

 

Before my stage of Fear came, I was on this mission for Truth. Hell or high-water I was going to get it. I studied and learned much. I started back with the Pentecostal religion, which is what I was raised in. From there I back tracked, That broke off from the Baptists, Back thru Martin Luther, Back to Catholicism. This is where It became Difficult for me. Judaism and their Scripture. Their prophecies supposedly where what predicted Christ's death.

 

I wanted to learn all about this prophecy, so much to learn I was completely overwhelmed. Nothing in the Jewish belief was what I was told. Nothing at all. I felt completely ignorant in Gods 'word'. because nothing was what I was taught. I talked to rabbis, and at one point in my life I was seriously considering converting to Judaism. They don't have 10 measly commandments, they have 613. No man can ever follow all 613 either as a Christian lie states, as some are for Women and others are for different level of Jewish leaders/priests, some can only be done in the Temple and so forth. The only part of "Gods" word is the Torah.(Which means the rule book or law) which is only the first 5 books, you know as Gen, Exodus, Liv, Numbers and Dut.

 

In order to obtain forgiveness there are a variety of ways in the Jewish belief. One of the Main way's is Yom Kippur ( Day of Atonement, by Fasting and praying) Jews actually have to be and act sorry in order to be forgiven. They suffer for their own sins, their own bad choices pretty much.Yom Kippur They have to own up to any misdeed they did and make it right. There is a LOT of self accountability. It isn't as simple as a forgive me father.

 

There is a good website that helped me on my journey, it is a lot to read but it's all very interesting.

 

Bet Emet Ministries

 

This website is extremely detailed, and gives the Breakdown of the Jewish/Christian differences.

 

 

A Rabbi once said to me, Their are two paths to God, One yours and One mine. There isn't just One, there are many roads. Today I'm in the agnostic atheist category. If any god exists he doesn't require us to 'know' him. I have spent far to much of my life in turmoil and fear to dwell on a god that is clearly to tribal for my taste. If the stories in the bible have unjust outcomes, then god is no better then man. Liars are blessed and rewarded, Millions of people are killed.. for what. for nothing more then being born to the wrong tribe? I consider myself more compassionate and more Justice conscious compared to the god of the bible. So there is either a Flaw in the gods or they don't measure up to my personal standards, hence I wont follow them.

 

On a side note, another bit of Interest?

 

The Christian Church mirrors Sun worship in every aspect of it's being. It's not an accusation it's a fact, It's just all renamed Sun/Son worship. Everything from the Trinity, to the 12 Disciples (signs of the zodiac) to the Death and rebirth of the sun/son.

By the same people who did the House of truth (Bet Emet)

 

Sunworship Links

 

Sorry for the Oh so long winded answer, Welcome again!!

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The bible is not a history book, nor is it historically accurate. And it is different in that no one is claiming our society is based on the writing of Josephus, Herodotus, or any other "historian." The bible, and it's supporters, make special claims about their book; therefore it deserves special treatment - and a higher level of skepticism. To believe every word of one part as the unexpurgated truth, but not the rest, is not a rational way to look at it.

 

What is meant by "it [the Bible] is not historically accurate"? Can one glean even one "historically accurate" account from the Bible -- from your perspective?

 

I know what you mean by the claims that are heaped upon the Bible. I don't like much of that, either. I make no special claims about the Bible. It's an anthology of the history, poetry, wisdom literature, prophecy and theology of the Hebrews-Israelites-Judeans-Jews-Christians over a period of a thousand years.

 

-CC in MA

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It's an anthology of the history, poetry, wisdom literature, prophecy and theology of the Hebrews-Israelites-Judeans-Jews-Christians over a period of a thousand years.

 

More like a gory horror novel.

 

A badly-written one, at that.

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Well, mwc, it depends on how you read 'em.

 

Or the wearing of rose colored glasses.

 

My reading of the gospels, Acts, and epistles finds great merit in their historicity.....

 

A good example of finding what you're seeking. If one wants to bad enough they'll find what they want - even if it isn't there.

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What is meant by "it [the Bible] is not historically accurate"? Can one glean even one "historically accurate" account from the Bible -- from your perspective?

 

I used plain English. I don't understand how it was not understood? :shrug: Just because they got the name of some well known city, or the name of some well known historical person right, does not mean that everything else in there is historically accurate. As to what this Jesus character is CLAIMED to have said; there is nothing what so ever to back up any of those claims. The claims are based on, AT BEST, 3rd hand hearsay. There are no extrabiblical sources to verify any of the claims in the NT. By any, honest, scholarly reading; the bible is not at all historically accurate.

 

I know what you mean by the claims that are heaped upon the Bible.....

 

No you don't. Your claim of historical accuracy is one of those claims with no merit. The claims made IN the bible are even worse.

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