Sunday, April 12, 2009

Mocking the Bible, just because it's Easter.

Regardless of what one might think of Christianity, I think we can all agree that Judas Iscariot was a weaselly, back-stabbing douche who got what was coming to him. Um ... say, what did he have coming to him, anyway? Oh:

3 Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,

4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that.

5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.

Fuckin' A, serves him right. Whoops, hang on:

16 “Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus; 17 for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry.”
18 (Now this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out. 19 And it became known to all those dwelling in Jerusalem; so that field is called in their own language, Akel Dama, that is, Field of Blood.)

Here's a thought, wanks -- when you decide which version you want to go with, get back to me. I'll be right here.


Vronvron said...

Good morning CC

You woke up early this morning to send me passages from the Bible (King James Version)?

You ruined my morning; next time send a chocolate bunny.

Yours in cynicism

Not A Wank

toujoursdan said...

It's always so amusing when an neo-atheist or fundamentalist discovers these contradictions for the first time, as if the original writers weren't aware of them when they wrote the narrative down in the first place, or that the millions of readers over the centuries didn't see them either.

I wonder when they'll take the next logical step and ask WHY it didn't matter to the original writers or to all the readers over the centuries. If they were merely making something up, or trying to hide something, or pulling the wool over their superstitious, brainwashed and stupid followers wouldn't they just discard one or more of the contradictions and make the story come out right in perfect detail?

CC said...

It's more amusing when those folks desperately try to reconcile the obvious contradictions. Years ago, I brought up this inconsistency, to which an astonishingly illiterate wank suggested that what Judas did was hung himself from a tree at the edge of a cliff. And when the rope eventually broke, the body of Judas plunged to the bottom of the cliff, at which point ... well, I'm sure you see where this was going.

At which point, I responded in two parts:

1) That was an amazingly stupid suggestion, and

2) It did not explain what happened to the 30 pieces of silver, which were either a) cast down on the floor of the temple, or b) used to purchase the field.

I never heard from said wank again. Quelle surprise.

toujoursdan said...

The contradiction exists because the Gospel was written 30 years after the actual event occurred and taken from oral accounts by different groups of followers. Remember, we are dealing with a culture with a 95% illiteracy rate. Written language didn't have the value that it does now and the way to distribute a message to a wide audience was through oral means, not written. So getting something in writing right away with the details all matching up wasn't as important to them as it would be for us.

It's like the eye witnesses to an accident who give varying details about what happened, the order, what people were wearing, when and how events happened; some of them completely contradictory. It's part of human observation and group dynamics. Does that mean that the accident didn't necessarily happen?

There were several versions of the story that were circulating at the time. The redactor simply took all the versions and put them next to each other.

Again, if someone made the whole thing up why would they include the contradictory accounts? If you want to convince people that something happened which may not have happened, wouldn't you try to get rid of as many contradictions as possible?

The wank that tried to convince you that both things happened is a wank, but he doesn't represent the 80% of Christians and Jews who actually take into account how a different culture views things and how human nature works.

Besides, you aren't even posting the juiciest bits of the story, like whether the Sermon on the Mount was on a mount or plain, when the cock crowed or why a naked boy ran through the Garden of Gethsemane at the moment when Jesus was arrested (St Mark 14:51-52). It's not like Christians aren't aware of these contradictions and quirks. It may keep the fundies up at night, but not the rest of us.

The Artful Nudger said...

Odd you should say that, since most literary scholars agree that the oldest of the books of the New Testament (Matthew) was written (first draft) sometime between 75 CE and 85 CE. So right around eight decades after the events described within it were purported to have happened. Eight decades is an awfully long time for a fish story to expand a bit.

These texts, or at least the oldest surviving fragments (dated around 150 CE) also differ significantly from any edition of the bible now in print.

That aside, I don't think CC was taking aim at Christians who view the bible as a book of stories that are worth reading for their morals, but that probably didn't happen exactly as they are written. I think, rather, that he is criticizing both biblical literalists and those who hold up specific bible verses as evidence of divinity or moral superiority.

If you want to take the Jefferson approach and say, "Jesus was a good guy. Here, read these stories - they'll show you that he's worth listening to.", I don't think you'll get many objectors, though many people will probably politely refuse to give you money after reading them. But if you want to say, "I hold in my hand irrevocable proof that Jesus was the Son of God and God made flesh!"... well, then, you're going to have to present something more convincing than a nineteen-hundred-year-old game of Telephone.

Kelseigh said...

I would just like to say toujoursdan has the right idea, and I fully support widespread oral. =D

What I can't really figure is why people revile poor Judas so much. The "betrayal" wasn't so much a betrayal according to the story, since Jesus clearly knew it was coming, and told Judas so. It was his job in the story to bring the gendarmes along, so why fuss? Clearly Jesus didn't think less of the poor fellow, so why do Xians heap so much abuse?

toujoursdan said...

You have your dating wrong. Most scholars think that St. Mark is the oldest Gospel with mainstream dating putting it around 60-70 AD. (Those who date St. Matthew older are a minority.) Jesus was about 30 years old when he began his ministry and 33 years old when he was killed, so that would make the writing of the these events about 30-40 years after they happened, as I said.

And it wouldn't really be the telephone game, since in that game a story is told from one person to another in a single chain that is purposely hidden from everyone else until the end. These are stories shared to communities of people though oral tradition that were written down after the fact. Group dynamics work differently than one-on-one dynamics in that there is more self-correction.

I don't really care whether you are convinced or not, honestly. My boyfriend is an atheist himself and we agree to disagree quite amicably. He sees the value of the community my liberal Anglican church provides and supports and participates in that community without embracing a belief in a divine being (and they are quite okay with that.)

My point is that pointing out contradictions in the text isn't going to convince anyone but someone with a modernist (and not even a post-modernist) worldview that they aren't true. It is completely blind to the realities and values ancient, Middle Eastern people had when they wrote these stories down and culturally arrogant. Both fundamentalist and neo-atheists carry modernist assumptions into the texts and start fighting with each other over what is "true". Both sides build strawmen of each other and then knock them down. Those of us in the middle think both sides miss the point.

I take the view that Anglican scholar Marcus Borg takes. The Bible is a lens to see God, not an end or source of truth unto itself. Using the Bible productively means questioning both the assumptions we make about fact, myth and truth and the assumptions ancient people made about fact, myth and truth and recognizing that there is a huge culture gap between the two. That Jesus was a messianic leader but probably didn't regard himself as God incarnate. After his death He was then recognized as God incarnate to His community of followers and that what this meant developed in his community of followers over time. The value of the Gospels are more than just nice stories: they would definitely be more than that to a community of followers, but they don't have to be factual/historical BBC style reporting either to be "true" either. Truths can be conveyed through non-literal means. This is a view that many mainstream Protestant and some Catholic clergy have too.

Borg's book is Reading the Bible Again for the First Time: Taking the Bible Seriously But Not Literally

A similar book is Episcopal/Anglican bishop John Spong's book:

Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism

bigcitylib said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bigcitylib said...

Has anyone (Dan?) read "The Brook Clearenth" by Moore? Is the story narrated there still considered a historically non Mainstream version?

(Not a bad book, by the way)

KEvron said...

"pointing out contradictions in the text isn't going to convince anyone"

this is canadian cynic, where we point and laugh and teh stupid. "convince" has no place on the internets.


psa said...

cake and eating it too. just because this heap of fiction isn't really true doesn't mean it isn't true. sweet. religion is a mental disorder. enjoy the chocolate bunnies of delusion.

False Prophet said...

There's really no such thing as anyone who takes the Bible literally. Believers just focus on the passages that reinforce their particular prejudices and ignore or handwave the rest.

Fundamentalists focus on the passages that condemn lifestyle choices they don't like--or twist existing passages to the same ends: show me where the Bible comes out against abortion?

More liberal Christians focus on the peace and love and charity passages and just dismiss the commandments regarding slavery, genocide, dietary regulations and so on as "the Old Testament" even when they reappear in the New.