Then we come to the Gospels which recount the life of Jesus. Why has God decided to reveal the whole of Jesus' biography, not once, but four times? And why has he revealed what are, quite clearly, four different and contradictory versions of the same story? Unlike Christians, historians have given perfectly plausible answers to these questions. The Bible is not a revelation from God, rather it is a compilation, a fairly untidy compilation, written by many different people, over many centuries, changed and edited from time to time, and containing legends, stories, genealogies, fables, sacred and secular writings. It is no more a revelation from God than are the Iliad or the Odyssey, the Ramayana or the Mahabharata, books which the Bible resembles quite closely.
Insomuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things which have been accomplished among us it seemed good to me also having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you (Lk 1:1-3).Nothing about being filled with the spirit of God either before or while he wrote, he simply says that others had written accounts of the life of Jesus so he thought it might be a good idea if he wrote something also. If he really was inspired by God to write the Gospel why didn't he say so? But the claim of inspiration is not just unsubstantiated, it also raises a very serious problem. Christians are always claiming that in prayer God speaks to them, gives them advice and tells them what to do. They claim that his voice is very direct, very clear and very real. But if they really have no doubt that God is communicating with them surely his words should he recorded and included in the Bible. The Bible contains words God spoken to Moses, Joshua, Matthew, Mark Peter and Paul so why shouldn't the words he speaks to modern day Christians be included also? Christians will balk at such a suggestion which indicates that they are not so convinced that the words they hear in their hearts really do come from God after all.
When we look at the Bibles used by modern Christians we find that there are several different versions. The Bible used by the Ethiopian Church, one of the most ancient of all churches, contains the Books of Enoch and the Shepherd of Hernias which are not found in the versions used by Catholics and Protestants. The Bible used in the Catholic Church contains the books of Judith, Tobias, Banuch, etc which have been cut out of the Bible used in Protestant churches. Prof H.L. Drummingwright of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in his introduction to the Bible explains how these books came to be cut out of the Bible used by the Protestants. These books were, he says, "in most Protestant Bibles until the 19th century, when publishers, led by the British and Foreign Bible Society voluntarily began to omit them". Once again, these books contained ideas which the churches did not like so they just cut them out. How can a book like Judith be the infallible word. of God one moment and not the next? Why are there so many different versions of the Bible? And which version is the infallible word of God?
The Bible however, clearly states that the earth does not move. In 1 Chronicles 16:30 the Bible says, "The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved." (See also Ps 93:1, 96:10 and 104:5).
Here, and in many places, the Bible contradicts scientific fact. Moreover the Bible does not just contradict scientific fact it also contradicts itself. Let us have a look at the creation story. In the first book of the Bible it says that God created all the plants and trees on the third day (Gen 1:11-13), all birds, animals and fish on the fifth day (Gen 1:20-23) and finally, man and woman on the sixth day (Gen 1:2627). Yet a little further on the Bible gives a different version of the creation story saying that God created man first (Gen 2:7), then all plants and trees (Gen 2:9), after that all birds and animals (Gen 2:19) and only then did God create woman (Gen 2:21-22). These two versions of the creation story clearly contradict each other.
Now let us have a look at the story of Noah's Ark. In one place in the Bible we are told that Noah took two of every animal and put them in the ark (Gen 6;19). Later the Bible says Noah took seven pairs of all clean animals and birds and two of all other creatures and put them in the ark (Gen 7:2). Again the Bible is contradicting itself. Christians will object to this saying that these and the numerous other mistakes in the Bible are only small and of no significance. However, only one mistake is required to show that the Bible is not infallible. Also, if mistakes can be made in small matters they can be made in important matters. And, finally, one mistake is proof either that the Bible is not the word of God or that God is capable of mistakes.
We have seen that the Bible is not infallible and therefore cannot be revelation. So if it is not God's word whose word is it? Many of the books in the Bible are named after different people who are supposed to have written them. So the Gospel of Matthew is supposed to have been written by Matthew, one of the disciples of Jesus. The Gospel of Mark is supposed to have been written by Mark, another of Jesus' disciples, and so on.
The Christian could claim that even if the Bible is not necessarily infallible revelation it is the testimony of reliable people, They could claim that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John knew Jesus well, they lived with him for several years, they heard its teachings and they wrote down what they saw and heard and that there is no reason for them to lie or exaggerate. Therefore, Christians could claim that the Bible is reliable testimony. Except that for testimony to be reliable it must come from reliable people, people we could trust, people from good backgrounds. Were the disciples of Jesus such people? Let us look.
Some of Jesus' disciples were tax collectors (Matt 9:9), a dishonest and despised class of men (Matt 18;17); others were mere illiterate fishermen (Mk 1:16-17). Simon was a Zealot (Lk 6:15), a group of men known for their fanatical and often violent opposition to Roman rule, and like many people involved in illegal politics he used an alias and was also known as Peter (Matt 10:2). Peter and James were given the nicknames ' Boanerges ' meaning 'sons of thunder' (Mk 3:17) once again suggesting their involvement in violent politics. When Jesus was arrested his disciples were carrying swords and were willing to use them (Matt 26:51). Hardly the sort of people with whom we would feel comfortable.
Another thing that should make us wary of trusting the testimony of Jesus disciples is that they seemed to be constantly misunderstanding what Jesus was saying (Mk 4:13, 6:52, 8:15-17, 9:32; Lk 8:9, 9:45). They are supposed to have seen Jesus perform the most amazing miracles and yet despite this they still doubted. Jesus scolded them and called them "men of little faith" (Matt 8:26, 17:20). Should we trust the writings of men who constantly failed to understand what was being said to them and whom even Jesus called men of little faith? If even the people who knew and saw Jesus had "little faith" how could we, who have never seen him, be expected to have faith in him?
How unreliable and faithless the people who wrote the Bible were is best illustrated by what they did just prior to and during Jesus' arrest. He asked them to keep watch but they fell asleep (Matt 26:36-43). After Jesus was arrested they lied and denied that they even knew him (Mk 14:66-72), and after his execution they simply went back to their fishing (Jn 21:2-3). And who betrayed Jesus in the first place? His disciple Judas (Matt 26:14-16). Association with sinners, liars and fools in order to help them, as Jesus did, is a good thing. But should we believe everything such people say?
An even more disturbing thing about the disciples of Jesus is just how many of them were possessed by demons or devils from time to time. Mary Magdalene who later claimed to have seen Jesus rise from the dead, had been possessed by seven devils (Mk 16:9). Satan entered into Judas (Lk 22:3), tried to get into Simon (Lk 22:31) and Jesus once actually called Peter, his chief disciple, "Satan" (Matt 16:23) indicating that he too was possessed by a devil at that time. Whether possession by devils actually happens or whether it indicates serious psychological disorders as modern psychiatrists believe, either way it indicates that we should treat the words of Jesus' disciples with great caution.
So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab according to the word of the Lord, and they buried him in the valley in the land Moab opposite Beth Peor , but no man knows the place of his burial to this day (Deut 34.5-6).How could a man write an account of his own death and burial? The book of Deuteronomy, at least, must have been written by someone other than Moses.
Now let us have a look at the New Testament. The Gospel of Matthew is supposed to have been written by Matthew (tax collector, doubter, man of little faith), one of the disciples of Jesus. Yet we can easily demonstrate that Matthew could not have possibly have written the Gospel of Matthew. We read:
As Jesus passed on from there he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office and he said to him, "Follow me". And he rose and followed him (Matt 9:9).Neither now nor in the past do people write in the third person. If Matthew had really written this we would expect it to read:
As Jesus passed on from there he saw me sitting at the tax office and he said to me, Follow me". And I rose and followed him.Obviously this was not written by Matthew but by some third person. Who this third person is we do not know but Bible scholars have made a guess. In the preface to his translation of the Gospel of Matthew the distinguished Bible scholar J.B. Phillips says:
Early tradition ascribes this Gospel to the apostle Matthew but scholars nowadays almost all reject this view. The author, who we still can conveniently call Matthew has plainly drawn on a collection of oral traditions. He has used Mark's Gospel freely, though he has rearranged the order of events, and has in several instances used different words for what is plainly the same story.This is a deeply disturbing admission, especially coming from an eminent Christian Bible scholar. We are told that "almost all" modern Bible scholars reject the idea that the Gospel of Matthew was actually written by Matthew. We are told that although the real author is unknown it is "convenient" to keep calling him Matthew. Next we are told that whoever wrote the Gospel of Matthew has "freely copied much of his material from the Gospel of Mark. In other words, the Gospel of Matthew is just a plagiarism where material has been "rearranged" and restated in "different words". So apparently in the Gospel of Matthew not only do we no have the words of God, we don't even have the words of Matthew.
To the credit of Bible scholars like Prof. J.B. Phillips, they freely admit these an other major doubts about authorship of the Bible, but such admissions make di claim that the Gospels were written by the disciples of Jesus clearly untrue.
In the New Testament Jesus and his disciples often quote the Old Testament in order to make a point or, more usually, to attempt to prove that the Old Testament prophesizes events in the life of Jesus. But when we compare these quotes with the original text of the Old Testament we find that they are almost always different We will use here the New International Version of the Bible.
Old Testament: But you, Bethlehem Ephasthah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old (Mic 5:2). New Testament
But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah are by no means the least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel (Matt 2:6).
The quote in the New Testament contains not just different words, it also changes the meaning of the original. Has Matthew misquoted the Old Testament because he was not familiar with it and made a mistake? Has he deliberately misquoted in order to alter the meaning? Or is the Old Testament Matthew used different from the one we have today? The New Testament quotes the Old Testament dozens of times and hardly a single quote is accurate. Christians will protest and say that these changes are only minor and of no importance. Perhaps so, but these are proofs that the Bible does contain mistakes, contrary to what Christians say. Also, it is strange that Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Paul, who according to Christians were inspired by God to write the New Testament, could not even quote the Old Testament correctly.
King James Version: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
The New International Version: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation (Lk 11:2-5).
Notice that these phrases - "who art in heaven", "thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven", "but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen" - have been cut out of the Lord's Prayer. We should ask our Christian friends why these verses have been cut out of the most famous and important of all Jesus' teachings. Ask them which of these two different versions of the Lord's Prayer is the infallible, unchanging word of God. Ask them < I>who had knowledge and wisdom enough to tamper with the Bible. You will find that they have great difficulties answering your questions. Here as elsewhere, the reader is encouraged to go to the library and the bookshop, find different versions of the Bible and carefully compare them. We will see with our own eyes how much the Bibles differ as the result of tampering.