Ian’s review of Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible & Why We Don't Know About Them > Likes and Comments

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message 1: by Ben (new)

Ben Nice review. I understand what you are going through; I grew up as a pk in the Nazarene Holiness tradition and struggled with many of the things you did. I ended up leaving the faith, though my family and many friends are still active within it.


message 2: by Ian (new)

Ian Thank you, Ben, for the kind words. I know a number of pk's and leaving the faith is not such an uncommon result, unfortunately.


message 3: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! Quite the journey. I love this phrase: "...missing the point with their emphasis on salvation and getting people into the heaven instead of making this life a better one for everybody."


message 4: by Ian (new)

Ian Yep, it has been, and it's not over!

On conservatives missing the point ... I'm starting to think of conservative protestant Christianity as lazy Christianity. They're really interested in saying the "magic words" to get into heaven, which is easy, while they're not so eager to do the hard work of making Earth a better place to live, especially for people who don't look, talk, or think like themselves. They seem to think that trying to get people into the afterlife gets them off the hook for allowing people to rot in this life.


message 5: by Matt (new)

Matt Well, that sounds like an interesting step on your journey. I imagine most people on Goodreads are going to say that the next step on your journey is embracing atheism.

May I suggest that the next step on your journey is realizing that your parents weren't complete idiots and that the truth doesn't lie on either of what is called progressive or conservative lines of thinking.

Political divisions of this world do nothing really to describe the Church either in its interests or its diversity. Moreover, I think you do a serious injustice to 'conservative' evangelical churches when you say that they are not eager to do the hard work of making Earth a better place to live, or that they are uninterested in helping people that don't look like they do. You'd be interested to note that the average conservative evangelical church tends to say the exact same self-rightous thing about the progressive churches, claiming that they are little more than coffee drinking social clubs for a bunch of people of a particular socio-economic class that don't really want to be bothered by anyone who doesn't look, talk, or think like themselves.

"once you recognize that people are born gay"

So, you are interested in reason and science? Ok. I ask you to examine that claim as critically and as throughly as you've examined the claim that the scriptures are inerrant. I would suggest that it is nothing but scientific hooey long since discredited on its own grounds, and insulting to homosexuals even on its own terms (and was rightly considered so by homosexuals back in the '70's). There is absolutely nothing in my friendships with gay men that has ever suggested to me that they were born gay, and even less in the scientific literature that supports the idea.

I fear you are remaining lazy, as you put it, both in your willingness to give a blanket inditement of people who don't agree with your new mode of thinking (is this progress?), and your willingness to accept a new cannonical set of ideas wholesale as if the acceptance of one logically forced the whole set.


message 6: by Julie (new)

Julie Thank you for sharing your journey. I think a lot of us err towards some form of lazy Christianity even if it's not the particular sort you describe. Getting it completely right is the journey of a lifetime at least, probably much longer.

Maturing in our faith and charity, learning how to truly live and love as we believe, rationally examining and testing accepted doctrine, as well as growing in knowledge and understanding of the gospel and reconciling religious ideals with the tragedies and struggles inherent in mortal life are worthy and necessary undertakings for anyone seeking Truth.

I know many wonderful, caring, intelligent and diligent Christians who still have far to go in one or more of these areas, including myself(not that I claim much virtue, but a long road ahead).

I rather identify with your background (I studied physics and engineering in college and my husband studied the Ancient Near East (including languages, history and culture) and probably would have done well in Theology if we had such a thing, belonging to a church with a lay clergy does change the options a bit). I really enjoy reading about you experiences. My own growth has been quite gradual and subtle in that I haven't (yet) recognized faith-challenging life events as dramatic as yours, but I've been noticing several of the ideas you've brought up in my own life and reading lately, and I really appreciate your thoughts and comments.

I look forward to seeing what you think of the Book of Mormon, if you're still planning on reading it.


message 7: by Ian (last edited Jun 28, 2011 06:06PM) (new)

Ian Thank you, Julie, for your kind and well said words and for sharing your own experience. I especially love this:

"I think a lot of us err towards some form of lazy Christianity even if it's not the particular sort you describe. Getting it completely right is the journey of a lifetime at least, probably much longer.

Maturing in our faith and charity, learning how to truly live and love as we believe, rationally examining and testing accepted doctrine, as well as growing in knowledge and understanding of the gospel and reconciling religious ideals with the tragedies and struggles inherent in mortal life are worthy and necessary undertakings for anyone seeking Truth."


Wonderfully said. It is a life-long journey and though I like the progress I've made, I know I have much to learn still.


message 8: by Ian (new)

Ian Matt, you make several statements but only one of them really bothers me enough to address right now. That is this:

"May I suggest that the next step on your journey is realizing that your parents weren't complete idiots and that the truth doesn't lie on either of what is called progressive or conservative lines of thinking."

First, I never called my parents "idiots" or anything similar. I merely raised the question of whether my faith journey would have been smoother had I not been raised with conservative beliefs, then immediately acknowledged that such a question is unproductive and not fair to my parents. I happen to think that both my parents are reasonably intelligent people and I have excellent relationships with my mother and my father. Moreover, my parents were not the only, indeed were not even the primary, influence that lead to my adoption of solo scriptura, and I hold no resentment toward them in my heart. Moreover, my parents are not the type of Christians that I 'indict' as they give gobs of money to charity and spend lots of their free time working for a local charity. My mom works nearly full-time hours as a volunteer for an organization that serves some of the least fortunate people in her community.

Second, I completely agree that truth doesn't lie in any particular place on the political spectrum. I don't think I said anything to the contrary; in fact I said that you have to use your own faculties and find the truth that works for you. Certain beliefs I think are unsupportable in light of historical or scientific evidence, sure, but I don't reject out of hand everything somebody says just because she's a political or religious "conservative." Moreover, I wasn't using the terms "progressive" and "conservative" in their political sense, but only as they might describe Christian theology.

P.S. Ask your friends, men and women, gay and straight, whether they chose their sexual orientation. Did you choose your sexual orientation, Matt? I didn't choose mine. I'm heterosexual because I am, not because I chose to be. I have explicitly discussed this issue with my gay friends, male and female, and they've said they did not choose to be gay. I simply do not believe my friends are lying to me. That's all the evidence I need.


message 9: by Tatiana (new)

Tatiana Excellent review! I love the story of your faith journey so far. May I ask if you leave any room for personal revelation in your sources of knowledge these days? I've found it to be a fruitful one, myself, though my own journey has been very different from yours.


message 10: by Ian (last edited Jun 29, 2011 06:40PM) (new)

Ian Tatiana wrote: "Excellent review! I love the story of your faith journey so far. May I ask if you leave any room for personal revelation in your sources of knowledge these days? I've found it to be a fruitful o..."

I suppose I do leave room for personal revelation, but admittedly I'm skeptical of it, and have been skeptical my whole life.

My priest wrote an interesting column this week that touched on this issue. He talked about a tragic incident that happened in his first parish, a poor, mostly immigrant community on the California-Mexico border. The young daughter of a parishioner family was kidnapped. A few weeks later, the mother of the kidnapped child said she saw the Virgin Mary on a local highway billboard. The mother said it was a sign that her daughter would be returned home safe. Hundreds of people paid tribute at the billboard, looking for the Blessed Virgin, offering prayers and laying out flowers and candles. The priest went to investigate for himself, and what he found was a billboard, just a billboard, on which there was some shadows cast by underneath lights that, when looked at from a certain angle, could be interpreted, maybe, to look something like a human face. Now, my priest said he was not about to tell that mother that she did not see a sign; who was he to say that God hadn't spoken to that woman in her time of grief? But he did tell the rest of the parishioners that there was no sign there for them to see, that God was not speaking through the billboard to the community. Incidentally, the child was never found and to this day she is presumed dead.


message 11: by Tatiana (new)

Tatiana There's definitely the difficulty in interpretation. I agree with you. So one never is completely sure of the meaning. And often something, some message that comes, is for personal consumption only, and one doesn't speak of it. Yet I do believe in getting answers to prayer, in the whisperings of the spirit, and in the nudges of guidance and direction. They've happened too often in my life, and been too true, and too foreign to myself, too outside of anything I would have imagined, for me to dismiss entirely. Any given thought or revelation I've had could be mistaken, but not the sum total of them, I don't believe.

Of course personal revelation never will be convincing to anyone but the person who receives it, so I don't ask anyone to believe *I* have received it, only suggest they be open to it hearing it for themselves.

I definitely will read these two books. I listened to a talk by Ehrman on you tube recently and he was really interesting. I love learning more about the Bible.


message 12: by Miriam (last edited Sep 27, 2011 09:36AM) (new)

Miriam I had badly wanted to believe those things because they supported my view of the Bible as the literal and inerrant Word of God, but I could not long retain those beliefs while remaining intellectually honest with myself.

My ethics professor in college (he was Catholic and the college at least nominally so), in response to a question about what to do if your reason or conscience contradicted Church teachings, said that you should always follow your conscience and reason, even if they were wrong, because it is better to be in error than to be alienated from yourself.


message 13: by Kenny (new)

Kenny Bell PLEASE READ* Does Bart Erhman provide the resources or evidence to where he claims "We don't have the original bible" and "we dont know who wrote the bible"? He just says this thing without pointing readers where to look this up. And it was also weird to me that if we dont have the original bible then what did they use to translate to English?


message 14: by Ian (last edited Jan 18, 2012 09:41AM) (new)

Ian Kenny, you ask a couple of questions that I will address in turn.

First, you want to know whether Ehrman provides sources or does he just make uncorroborated statements. He provides lots of sources, though there are a couple of things you need to understand about two books I review on this page. One is that the books are written for a lay audience--not an uneducated audience, but readers who aren't themselves trained and experienced biblical scholars. So the writing style is very accessible and not too acedamic. Ehrman thus makes plenty of statements without detailed explanations of how he knows those statments to be true. But he does provided plenty of citations to lots of academic resources where you can verify the accuracy of his statments for yourself, should you have the time and inclination to do so.

Your next question regards the source of the English translations when we don't have the original bible. Different English translations have different sources, none of which are the original "bible" in any sense. For one thing, there isn't an original "bible" in the sense of an original collection of the canonical all in one place. The canon of scripture represents the concencus of a council of human beings held several hundred years after Jesus' death. However, if you're talking about the individual letters, apocalypses, and such, scholars don't have the orignal copies of those, either. As far as anybody knows, they simply don't exist anymore. The oldest copies of the various letters and other documents that now make up the Christian canon are all dated to a hundred years or more after Jesus' death. And, as I said, different English translators looked at different early documents to come up with their translations. Some, like the King James Version, didn't even look to the Greek documents at all but relied on flawed Latin versions.

Another thing--there is no real debate that the original documents that make up the Christian canon have been lost to the sands of time. That is the undisputed consensus among biblical scholars (including both secular and Christian biblical scholars). What you want to make of that fact is your business. But anybody who tells you that the originals still exist, or that they're reading a translation made directly from the originals, is either lying or is ignorant of the facts.


message 15: by Mohammed (new)

Mohammed alkindy i solute the reader stamina to find clarity for his faith. i read the book myself and wrote a review about it too. the book has reinforce my faith Islam like what it has done for the reader. you will be surprised how much similarity the book has with what islam faith is teaching. the same stories that appear in the bible are also appearing in Quran but with different angles and details. hope other can read it along with Quran perspective of the same stories!


message 16: by Scott (new)

Scott Gates "Several books of the canonical New Testament are now known to be flat-out forgeries."

Calling such books forgeries is going too far, I think. An NT book would be written by a community that aligned itself with John's teachings, for example, and to give authority to that text, they would affix the name John to it, for they saw themselves of carrying on the work of this apostle. People back then weren't hung up on whether John or Paul themselves actually wrote the work. It is not as if they were attempting to deceive anyone; individual attribution (or giving credit to the person who actually wrote the book) simply wasn't important to them.


message 17: by Traveller (new)

Traveller Scott wrote: ""Several books of the canonical New Testament are now known to be flat-out forgeries."

Calling such books forgeries is going too far, I think. An NT book would be written by a community that align..."


Plato didn't say Socrates wrote his books in which he set forth Socrates' views. He put authorship to his own texts, and mentioned Socrates in them.

Why don't we just make things easier altogether, and cut out the intermediaries altogether and say that the New Testament was written by Jesus?


message 18: by Ian (new)

Ian Scott, thanks for your comment. Your attitude is very common and I understand the reluctance to use words like "forgery" when discussing books of the NT. I was once quite reluctant myself, but I eventually relented under the weight of the evidence. You may be interested in my review of Bart Ehrman's book on the subject of forgery in the NT.

"An NT book would be written by a community that aligned itself with John's teachings, for example, and to give authority to that text, they would affix the name John to it, for they saw themselves of carrying on the work of this apostle."

If you mean the Gospel of John, then I would agree forgery is not the appropriate term. The Gospel of John was written anonymously some decades after John died and only some decades after it was written was authorship attributed to John. There's no reason to believe the person(s) who wrote it intended to deceive anybody.

"People back then weren't hung up on whether John or Paul themselves actually wrote the work."

I've read a number of books on NT scholarship over the last couple of years and it's my understanding that your statement is factually inaccurate. People in antiquity were very much hung up on authorship, just as we are today. Also like us, ancient readers were wary of forgery and were not really cool with forgers doing what forgers do. Forgery may not have been technically illegal in the ancient world as they didn't have modern intellectual property laws, but it was considered just as immoral as we consider it today.

Think about the whole reason for putting somebody else's name on your work: to make it appear more authoritative and make it more likely that the recipients will listen to what you have to say. That wouldn’t work if people "weren't hung up" on who the author was. If the congregation in, say, Thessalonica, received a letter from "Scott" or "Ian" then nobody would read it. But if they received a letter from "Paul" then well then that's different. 2nd Thessalonians, in fact, warns its readers not to trust letters forged in Paul's name! Ironically, modern scholars now believe that 2nd Thessalonians is itself a forgery, and they think its warning against trusting forgeries is a reference to 1st Thessalonians, which really was written by Paul!

If somebody who wasn't Paul wrote a letter to a congregation and signed it in Paul's name, knowing he wasn't Paul, knowing (or at least suspecting) that Paul has been dead for a while, and wanting people to believe that Paul wrote it so that they would be more likely to heed the writing, how is forgery not an appropriate term?

Or we can put it in modern terms. Let's say, God forbid, that something terrible happens tomorrow and you, Scott, are killed. Let's assume that your kids (if you have them) are taken care of through insurance and maybe your significant other meets a hot new lover so they're fine. I just don't want you to worry about your family while thinking through this hypo. But I love you and miss you terribly and I want your legacy to live on through Goodreads. So I read every review and comment you've ever left on GR and try to get a good feel for how you wrote, what you wrote, and why you wrote it. Then I start writing reviews on GR using your name and account, writing what I think you would have written about those books. That's forgery, plain and simple. If I get caught I'd be in trouble, and rightly so.

If the people of Thessalonica knew that someone other than Paul had written the second letter they received in Paul's name, they'd have been pissed off, and rightly so, because it was a forgery.

"It is not as if they were attempting to deceive anyone;"

I don't agree. Some people wrote letters in Paul's name and Peter's name and John's name, but they didn't intend the recipients to believe that Paul and Peter and John wrote the letters? How do you know? The fact is, people were deceived. People were deceived for about 1800 years, until modern scholarship started to piece together who really authored what. You said it yourself: they wanted to give authority to the text. Well, if they didn't intend to deceive, then how does signing somebody else's name add authority? The answer is that it adds authority because it deceives the reader into believing the text was authored by somebody more authoritative. If it was generally known that the signed name isn't the person who wrote the text, then how does signing any name ever add authority? The two points simply aren’t compatible.


message 19: by Scott (new)

Scott Gates Ian, great response. Also, thanks for putting me at ease in the hypothetical situation (except for the hot new lover part).

After making my comment I looked into one of the books I rely on for biblical knowledge and saw that I was wrong, and that what you're saying is right:

"People in antiquity were very much hung up on authorship, just as we are today."


message 20: by Ian (new)

Ian Wow, an actual reasonable give-and-take on an issue with religious implications. How refreshing!


message 21: by Mohammed (new)

Mohammed alkindy i salute the objectivity in the previous discussions. i believe there is a difference between "belief" and being objective. one can not be qualified to be called a believer if he is not in a position to believe what he/she is not able to prove directly. things he/she had not seen by their eyes for example. so the believer are those who have chosen to believe things that are beyond their human capacity as human. while objectivity is allowing human capacity whether it is understanding, logic or using the brain muscle to question and challenge. the two are not mutually exclusive to my opinion once the first has been established.


message 22: by Kenny (new)

Kenny Bell What if I said that you mis interepreted the part about god torturing people for all enternity in hell. That there are verses that says, that you only die once in hell. That they no longer are tortured for ever?


message 23: by Kenny (new)

Kenny Bell "The factual and theological contradictions in the Bible cannot honestly be denied."

Hey can you tell me one contradiction you found in the bible?


message 24: by Mohammed (new)

Mohammed alkindy (82. Verily, you will find the strongest among men in enmity to the believers the Jews and those who commit Shirk, and you will find the nearest in love to the believers those who say: "We are Christians.'' That is because among them are priests and monks, and they are not proud.) (83. And when they listen to what has been sent down to the Messenger, you see their eyes overflowing with tears because of the truth they have recognized. They say: "Our Lord! We believe; so write us down among the witnesses.'') (84. "And why should we not believe in Allah and in that which has come to us of the truth And we wish that our Lord will admit us along with the righteous people.'') (85. So because of what they said, Allah awarded them with Gardens under which rivers flow, they will abide therein forever. Such is the reward of good-doers.) (86. But those who disbelieved and belied Our Ayat, they shall be the dwellers of Hell.)

what you just have read are verses of Quran where it explain the position of islam towards real true believers of christianity.


message 25: by Kenny (new)

Kenny Bell "“the Bible says” or “according to the Bible” or similar phrases, I’m going to respond with the question: which Bible? " There are more than one bibles?


message 26: by Mohammed (new)

Mohammed alkindy Kenny wrote: ""“the Bible says” or “according to the Bible” or similar phrases, I’m going to respond with the question: which Bible? " There are more than one bibles?"

a good question to be raised. from islamic perspective, the bible is a collection of books written by human, except a small portion of it which you call the euangelion which supposed to be the words of God, but even this part has been changed with passing of time.


message 27: by Ian (new)

Ian Kenny wrote: ""“the Bible says” or “according to the Bible” or similar phrases, I’m going to respond with the question: which Bible? " There are more than one bibles?"

Yes, there are several Bibles, and it's amazing how few Christians realize this.


message 28: by Kenny (new)

Kenny Bell Can you name a couple. Because all i can find are simply translations? The Great Bible, Tyndale, are all old versions/translations of the king james(contemporary bible) we use today.


message 29: by Ian (new)

Ian It doesn't really work like that, Kenny. There isn't some long list of competing sets of scriptures with different names. Now, the Catholic Bible and the Protestant Bible are substantively different, as are the Mormon and Jehova's Witness Bibles. In my view, the King James and a modern translaction like, say, the NIV, are so different that they are practically different Bibles. (As a side note I would not call King James "contemporary" in any sense of the word.)

But what I'm really talking about are all the conflicting documents which claim to be books of the Bible -- not later forgeries from more recent centuries, but original source documents that contain both technical and substantive differences due to copying errors, translation errors, lost portions, different personal and theological biases in scribes, and other things. It's all laid out in Ehrman's books.


message 30: by Mohammed (new)

Mohammed alkindy it is like some one who have experienced an incident, when he is asked to narrate it he would say it exactly what he experienced, what he say, hear, smell .... no matter how many times he is being asked , it will be same narration. but if it is a fictitious event, then every time it is being narrated then it is going to be different. as it is not based on clear facts and therefore one is bound notice contradictions and error


message 31: by Julie (new)

Julie Just for reference (if anyone cares), Mormons use the King James Version. I'm not so clear on what the Protestant Bible is (one specific version, or any of several related versions omitting the extra "Catholic" books?)


message 32: by Ian (new)

Ian The Protestant Canon differs from the Catholic Canon in the omission of half a dozen books. Those books (misnamed the "apocrypha" by Protestants) were part of the Christian Canon beginning about 400 CE. Martin Luther was the first to object to those books, and it was on the entirely arbitrary basis that they weren't written in the geographic region of Palestine. Why that should matter I have no idea, but the notion stuck that the books were somehow illegitimate and were taken out of the Protestant Canon. All the various versions read by Protestants (NIV, NASV, ESV, and so on and so on) omit the disputed books, while the Catholic versions left them in.

Perhaps you can correct me, Julie, but it's my understanding that the Book of Mormon is part of the LDS Canon—that is, the LDS church considers the Book of Mormon to be the result of direct divine revelation just like the books of the traditional Protestant Canon. That's one reason I say that the Mormon "Bible" differs from the "Bibles" of other Christian sects. Moreover, I'm aware that the LDS relies on the King James Version, which is substantively different from more modern translations. I've never understood the reliance on the King James Version, and maybe you can explain it to me. Outside of the LDS church, the scholarly consensus is that the King James is the least reliable biblical translation.


message 33: by Julie (new)

Julie As you mentioned, members of the LDS church (Mormons) believe that the process of revelation and inspiration that produced the Bible was not limited to the narrow time and place where the Bible originated. As far as what's in the Bible, I think it's just a minor difference in terminology. A Mormon will understand the Bible to include the Old and New Testaments familiar to other Christian faiths, but our Scriptures also include The Book of Mormon (written ca 600 BC-421 AD in the ancient Americas), The Pearl of Great Price (which overlaps the Old Testament) and the Doctrine and Covenants (Revelations given in the early 1800s regarding the Restoration of the church in modern times)

I've not seen an official statement on why the King James Version was chosen, but I expect it's based on tradition. The KJV dates from the early 1600s and for a very long time was the best/most respected version (or only version) available in our language. Copies of the KJV published as part of the LDS scriptures (or "standard works") do have limited alternate translations offered in the footnotes.


message 34: by Tatiana (new)

Tatiana Also, the translations of the Bible that the LDS church uses worldwide are often the most scholarly and up to date of the available translations. Not translations from the English KJV to the target language. So a US missionary reading the bible in his mission language overseas might gain insights into original biblical meanings that he or she never has encountered before. I just read of an instance like that.


message 35: by Casey (new)

Casey Thank you for your thoughtful review; I truly enjoyed hearing about your personal spiritual journey. It can be difficult to talk about crises of faith, which I have also been through. Although I am an atheist, I was raised catholic: thus, much more emphasis was placed on tradition than the bible. Learning about the biblical contradictions was certainly a revelation for me, especially since I felt that the sacred texts had been hidden from me during my religious education. I am glad that you have found a way to resolve your faith with reason and rationality, and I will absolutely read this book.


message 36: by Angela (new)

Angela I don't agree with you at all on this. I do believe the KJV bible scriptures are the inspired Word of God. I believe the truths in it and I believe that is our guide on how to live our lives pleasing to God. I would rather live this life believing that and go to Heaven, than not, and die and find out that I was wrong. Too late to change it. No second chances. Today is the day of salvation.


message 37: by Scott (new)

Scott Gates So, Pascal's wager, basically.

Do you honestly believe in a God that would punish someone for eternity for misinterpreting an extremely complex series of texts?


message 38: by Mars (new)

Mars Religious studies are so interesting and I definitely learned a lot from your review and all the comments. I’ll be checking this book out for sure!


message 39: by Gil (new)

Gil What a thoughtful and honest review. Thank you for this; I’m from an evangelical Christian background and am going through a similar crisis of faith. Ehrman’s books are going to help me solidify my position against Sola Scriptura and the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible. Thank you for sharing.


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