Monday, September 28, 2009

Jesus Interupted

Whenever my dad used to catch me reading as a kid he would tell me, sarcastically, to “Stop doing that. It’ll corrupt your mind.” At first it was typically a comic book or a Mad Magazine that provoked his response but later on I realized that he was referring to any book. I’m sure most, if not all, of the books that I’ve reviewed on this blog would fit Rog’s definition of corruptible reading material.
The latest book that I’ve been using to corrupting my mind is Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don't Know About Them) by Bart D. Ehrman. I’ve reviewed several of Ehrman’s books in the past and except for one found them all to be very enjoyable. I’m only half way finished, but this one too has not disappointed.
Ehrman examines the countless contradictions in the Bible and he is uniquely qualified to write a book on this topic. He starts with a few relatively simple contradictions that really don’t amount to much but then build up to some serious differences that have some pretty serious theological implications. He reminds his reader that the Bible was written by several different people with different perspectives, opinions and ideas. The original authors never imagined that their writings would be complied into one volume. And I’m sure they would be quite surprised to find out that millions of people refer to this volume by saying, “The Bible is the inerrant word of God.”
Ehrman goes a step further than just pointing out the problems and contradictions. He also details a brilliant way to change your perspective as you read the Bible. He calls it horizontal reading. This is where you take a certain event in the Bible and then read what each author has to say about it. If you just read the Bible as you would a novel, vertically, then you might not notice the many inconsistencies and contradictions. However if you read a little background information on the author and then reread his letter or gospel you can also make a little more sense as to why he would emphasis certain events over others or even change certain details. If an author was addressing his letter to a group who wanted to know if Jesus’ life fulfilled any prophecies then its would surprise you that he would quote the Old Testament and possibly even tweak some of the details to make it fit reality a little better than it actually did.
I’ve always been rather critical of people who try to use scripture for things that it was not meant to do. I know people who try to use the Bible, the Koran, The Book of Mormon, etc. as science or history books. Not only does that give you incorrect history and science it also completely misses the point. Had the authors known they were writing history books or science books they would have taken and entirely different route and included different details all together. The analogy I use is the difference between a phone book and a map. There’s nothing inherently wrong with either one as long as they are used in the proper context. You wouldn’t look for the number to Domino’s on a map and the driver probably wouldn’t be able to find your house with just a phonebook. But if you switch that around everything works out just fine.

No comments:

Post a Comment