Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Bible scholar writes book pointing out that what you think the Bible says, it not at all what it says.

Bible scholar Dr. Joel M. Hoffman has written a new book entitled "The Bible Doesn't Say That: 40 Biblical Mistranslations, Misconceptions, and Other Misunderstandings" which reveals that what many people take as gospel, is anything but.

Here are a few examp0les courtesy of Chron:  

The Bible Doesn't Call Homosexuality A Sin 

Only three biblical passages address homosexuality directly. And while they frown on some male homosexual behavior, they do not condemn all of homosexuality, and they do not call it a sin. 

So it's a double mistake to say that "the Bible calls homosexuality a sin." 

The Ten Commandments Don't Prohibit Coveting 

The word "covet" in "thou shalt not covet" is a translation mistake. The original Hebrew verb here, CHAMAD, means "to take," a fact we learn by looking at how the word is used in context is that some things are not just illegal but also immoral. 

The mistranslation "thou shalt not covet" wrongly suggests that feelings might be immoral, while the original text only addresses actions. 

The Bible Doesn't Contradict Evolution 

Some modern critics of the Bible claim that you can't believe the Bible if you think evolution is right, and some modern Bible readers say that you can't believe evolution if you think the Bible is right. 

Both groups have misunderstood the Bible. What they don't grasp is that most of the stories in Genesis were not meant to be history. 

One of the ways we know is that there are, in fact, two creation stories --- one in which Eve is created from Adam's rib, the other in which Adam and Eve are created at the same time. They can't both be historically accurate, and they were not intended to be. 

Rather, evolution is a scientific truth and the creation stories in the Bible are religious truths. And sometimes "believing the Bible" means believing that a story in it didn't happen. 

"Biblical Marriage" Lets Men Marry More Than One Wife 

"Biblical marriage" is a hot topic, but even a quick look at biblical marriage shows that it's not what most people think. 

According to both the Old Testament and the New Testament, most men are allowed to have lots of wives at once -- the exceptions being kings (who according to Deuteronomy 17 can only have a few wives) and some religious leaders (who according to 1 Timothy can only have one). 

Biblical marriage does not have be between only one man and one woman. 

The Bible Doesn't Forbid Abortion 

There's one direct mention of losing a fetus in the Bible, and that's in Exodus 21. The Hebrew isn't entirely clear, but the question there seems to be: What happens if a man accidentally causes a woman's miscarriage? 

The normal eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth rule won't work, because the man doesn't have a fetus to match the woman's lost fetus. 

The answer is that the man has to pay a fine. Because a fine is never the penalty for murder, we learn that, according to the Bible, abortion is not murder. Other than that, the Bible offers no guidance about abortion. 

There is of course quite a lot more, but you get the gist.

One of my go to rules for understanding the Bible is to never ask for clarification from priests, ministers, nuns, or even Christians.

Most of them are salespeople trying to sell a product. They only care about a truth that helps them to achieve that goal, not actual truth itself.

It is hard to imagine that a book which has had such incredible impact on humanity is so poorly understood by the majority of humans.

But then again, we don't have to imagine it do we?


  1. But it was not always so. I grew up with church-going parents who actually lived their faith. All that stuff Christ taught that Republicans hate, my parents practiced. I went to Sunday school yet had no problem distinguishing what was science and what wasn't. Then Ronnie Ray-gun got in bed (politically) with Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Pat Buchanan et al and the public started hearing their crackpot theories. That was the beginning of "the stupid." It does not have to be that way!!! I'm sure all the religious talking heads will denounce this book without reading it. They have their rubes and they sure don't want them educated!!!

    1. Anonymous5:17 AM

      Totally agree with you, Deni, and I was raised much the same way.

      I'm so sick of these "reverends" in the political arena. They should stick to saving souls and butt out. Funny that the definition of reverend is "someone who deserves respect and gratitude." That's the last thing I think of when those name come up, and I can add a few more.

      The day I hear politics preached from the pulpit is the day I walk out and never return. Tax the hell out of 'em!

  2. Anonymous4:42 AM

    Bible is not just poorly understood but manipulated by man to achieve goals,needs and control of the masses. Case in point,I grew up mormon. Talk about master manipulators!

  3. Jkarov4:56 AM

    The bible is a collection of 66 books, all written by fallible humans, many of them delusional.


    The Christian evangelicals, the Quiverers, and the Dominionists want their women kept in a solipsistic bubble where females are relegated to marriage, submission, children, and housekeeping, full stop.

    That's the biblical mandate for women, as laid down by the lawgiver himself, Paul of Tarsus, whose vitriolic and legalistic writings in the New Testament have oppressed and enslaved women for millenia.

    Paul's letters and ignorant screeds were deemed "holy scripture" by a council of delusional church elders around 400 AD, and ever since, the fate of women and girls has been one of slavery, oppression, and suffering.

    Pastors and preachers teach that bible trumps every human right or civil right or rational thought that anyone might have.

    Paul's boss Jesus never said women should submit to a despotic tyrant father, be home schooled, refrain from working outside the home, and stay around to raise mom's brood instead of college and career pursuit.

    Jesus never said anything about the 3rd class position that Paul of Tarsus puts women in, where women are to only raise kids, tend house, cover their heads, keep their mouths shut, and don't teach or have authority over men.

    Paul's writings have cause countless millions of women and girls to endure abuse, denigration, and the suffering of being seen as nothing but brood mares and house slaves.

    I have read the Bible at least 6 times cover to cover, learned the original languages it was written in, and I am appalled at the mythology it propagates, and the archaic behavior codes that get spewn from pulpits every Sunday.

    Answer me this: If the bible is infallible, and is absolutely at face value "god's will", then why does it condone and actually support slavery in the New Testament, in THREE different places:

    Ephesians 6:5
    Colossians 3:22
    1 Peter 2:18

    1. Anonymous8:05 AM

      "why does it condone and actually support slavery...."

      Because the Bible's God is frequently quite creepy. The slavery issue speaks to ethics rather than infallibility.
      Confederate slaveholders used the Bible to justify slavery and argue it was God's intended status for some.

    2. Jkarov the Bible actually had more books in it originally.many of the books were destroyed by invaders of Jerusalem over millenia, particularly the Greeks and Romans. The standard was 80 books. In the 1500s the Anglican church 14 books claiming they were not cannon. These 14 books are still in Catholic bibles or you find them in the original English translation of the king James 1611 Bible.

    3. Jkarov11:37 AM

      @George Williams

      I'm well aware of the various "apocryphal" books that are left out of the Protestant bible. I only used that sentence by way of reference.

      I've studied the bible in the original languages for 40 years.

      The hypocrisy of Christians and the practices of churches drove me away from their mythology, and I've been an athiest for 39 of those years.

      Perfect example: Ted Cruz, a man who is a radical Christian Ayatollah, who wants theocracy, or the next thing to it.

      Cruz would force raped 11 year old girls to bring pregnancies to term, in spite of the horrific risk to life and limb.

      Cruz is a militant hard core Christian Taliban, and represents the greatest threat to our Republic at current time.

      He bases his entire life on the Dominionist movement, that is hell bent on encoding their idea of "morality" on all the rest of us by Federal and state law.

      They are waging war on our freedoms, and we must stand against it.

    4. Not only that, but those that "collected" those stories had agendas that determined who got in and who was left out. There are many more books than are in the bible.

      There are also imposters or "forgeries" in the bible. It's speculated that 50% of "Paul's" writings are forgeries, written by others claiming to be Paul or that have simply be assigned to Paul. (Personally, he was never a disciple and never met Jesus so all of his crap should be tossed out first thing. Misogynist asshole. )

  4. Anonymous5:21 AM

    Thanks again, Uncle G.! These posts do an old atheist's heart some good.
    I have a gideon's bible that I'M annotating. It's taking forever, but i am determined.
    Forcibly raised fundie by horrible parents, I have read their bible all the way thru only once when i was a teen and it was just to say i did(hardly remember a thing i read).
    I am now, 35 years later, doing the same thing but for a much different reason. I'm reading this shit with an adult's mind now, and opened eyes.
    MY annotations, and MY titles, are much much more accurate! For example, the only real thing that stood out to me in judges chapter 1 is this:that their skygod couldn't overcome iron chariots to win a battle over some puny humans that it supposedly created. That page is titled, "All it Takes is Chariots of Iron". Or genesis cha. 34 has been titled, "Saga of Dinah, or, Lying is OK if god is on Your Side". Genesis chap 18, "Here We Have Beef and Milk Served by a Jew"(verse 8). I have a secular Jewish galpal who assures me that no practicing Jewish person would ever have dairy product with a beef dish, and she helped me with that title. We had a belly laugh coming up with that. Other than that, I have to say this project can really get you down. This desert tribe tome is really depressing, and besides the rapes and child abuse, the animal abuse is unforgettable. It is AWFUL.
    But the way the writing is presented in churches is of course piece-meal, and nobody sensible reads the damn thing cover to cover(including me, but i'm on a mission!). If xtians read their bible that way there would be a LOT fewer xtians.
    Thanks to the interwebs and the Google, you can ask how many times unicorns are mentioned in the bible and compare that number to how many times hell is mentioned. So much of xtian belief today is just fan fiction written 2000yrs after this pile of crap i'm combing thru now was even begun to be written. Their 10 commandments are listed, in various forms, at least 3 times and each set is a poor paraphrase of Hammurabi's Code(predates by at least 3 thou yrs). Inspired by god, or shite paraphrasing, you be the judge.

    I certainly don't recommend this project to anyone. I really want a good reference bible to staunch the flow of bullshit diarrhea i have to contend with, surrounded by 'the faithful.' I don't want to argue with them, hell no. That gets nobody anywhere. I just want to be able to hit and run on a mouthy pushy xtian who wont take no for an answer.
    "So then why couldn't mr. omnipotent miraculously zap those iron chariots for Judah in judges?" And hear the sputter and stutter as I walk away with a shit-eatin smirk on my shitty face!

    1. Anonymous6:14 AM

      So many of us atheists are angry. Brainwashed from birth by this nonsense and then disinherited when we questioned it. We lost the love of our father who was so immersed in the bible's dictates, he didn't seem human. But we have to let it go and remember our parents were doing THEIR best (being brainwashed in their turn). Take the best of them, leave the rest. You will feel better.

      But I did enjoyed your Bible lessons. Agree the bible is a joke: title those chapters honestly and have a good laugh. And I know that look when we can "hit and run". Perhaps we touch a tiny place in their armor and some light gets in.
      But they probably just feel sorry for us and will pray for us... religion has deep claws. If you have escaped them, run far, run fast.

    2. Anonymous7:21 AM

      Thanks, 6:14 for your comment, I appreciate what you say, but I have to say that my parents didn't do their best.

      They should never, either one, have been around a child much less responsible for raising them.Or even a damn goldfish.

      Physical, emotional, sexual abuse in my fam of origin, but god forgives them dontcha know? Every time a man rapes a child all he has to to is pray once for forgiveness and presto.
      And me, a little child begging jesus to make that man stop, what did i do to deserve it? It went on for 17 years, and his wife my birthbitch turned her head. She knew what he was doing to me and she knew he was killing my cats to keep me quiet(that hurt the worst--having my torturer strangle the beings I loved the most right in front of me). She was glad to be rid of the xtian responsibility of satisfying her husband, and resented me because she didn't want yet another kid.
      I don't mean to shock you, but rather inform you. There are very bad parents out there. Do NOT make excuses for them. This perpetuates the HELL that was my homelife for other innocent children.
      I am sorry if I shocked and sickened you. But it's my truth, and I live with it.
      I escaped them almost 20 years ago and I am truly thankful for that. More at peace now than ever. And NOBODY ever abuses an animal or child in my sight range, not ever again. EVER.

    3. Anonymous8:05 AM

      You had a really raw and terrible childhood. I am so sorry and you have every right to be pissed off and broken but glad to read you are at peace now. Some parents are just shits.

    4. Anonymous8:13 AM

      "And me, a little child begging jesus to make that man stop, what did i do to deserve it?"

      Heartbreaking. The religious angle of God not answering prayer and allowing horrific abuse magnifies the pain.

    5. Leland8:56 AM

      Dear 7:21,

      I am so sorry. I cannot share all your pain, only a little. Being male I wasn't - fortunately - sexually abused. I can NOT imagine what that put you through, or what you may still go through having the memories.

      I can say, however, that I am able to understand and share your pain from the beatings and the mental abuse. I, too, went through the formative years with a father who beat me and mentally abused me - until I was lucky enough to get bigger than him.

      What I am trying to say is that while it may not sound like much, the knowledge you are not alone sometimes helps. And so do dreams.

      Like no one ever going through it again! Or a little girl's prayers actually being answered in time to save her.

  5. Anonymous5:31 AM

    The late great Barbara Smoker said that god was the Great Abortionist. He causes millions of miscarriages every year! Not to mention the innocent babies born with horrific maladies that cause them pain and suffering.
    Why not, with all that miraculous power, keep every embryo and fetus safely in mum? Why force a tiny baby into such a painful existence?
    Barbara Smoker was a brilliant and brave woman, and I first read about her in The Freethinker. Thank you, Gryphen, for including that in your blogroll for me to find! A jewel!

  6. I read the Bible as literature in my ninth grade English class and had read it about twice before that. Sex, murder, incest, insanity, child killings, genocide. Its got it all. Of course, even as a child I understood the allegories and parables. What I didn't understand was how people chose to use a book written by a lot of men at different times in history as a divine treatise
    ---that through the ages had been used to make so many groups suffer.

    Want to know what makes me shiver? Someone who says the only book they read is the bible.

    1. Anonymous6:18 AM

      My questioning of it started in Sunday School. I was a clever little sod and when the teacher said she would give a prize to the kid who could recite a verse, I jumped up and said, "Jesus wept." Everybody laughed, except the teacher. Can't remember the prize, only my peers' amusement.
      May have been the beg. of my life of being the class clown.

  7. Boscoe5:33 AM

    This is why NOBODY should ever get any kind of "religious liberty" exemption from following the same rules everyone else has to follow. Anyone who claims a religious exemption should be forced to prove their point in court beyond a shadow of a doubt.

    1. Anonymous6:22 AM

      If proof had been judged by civilians maybe there wouldn't have been so many wars fought to "prove" each side's cases (or rulings to Kill the Infidel). Nah! who am I kiddin' -- men like to kill; it's apparently in human DNA to protect one's tribe and what better tribe than religion and its demand you do so. "God is on our side!"

  8. Anonymous5:35 AM

    God at CPAC

  9. Anonymous5:53 AM

    Abraham married his half sister, but it was ok, cos they didn't share a mom. Just a dad, genesis 11. Can you imagine running the DNA on that crime scene(thanks to Betty Bowers for that)?

    Then in gen chap 12 ole Abe tries to pimp put his sister-wife to save his own ass from some nameless pharaoh(why no name, O historically correct and inspired by god book?). That scene repeats in gen chap 20, but with a different 'oppressor'.
    So, the revered Father of xtianity married his own sister. Tell THAT to a fundie and see what happens.
    And WTF with all the dick torturing? Who the HELL came up with the idea that an innocent baby boy must have part of his dick chopped off, no painkiller, to be right in the sight of god? and how many died thru the years, bleeding to death or of some infection because of this cruel brutality?

    1. Anonymous6:24 AM

      One is too many. F**k religion.

    2. Circumcision was a sign of the covenant made between God and Abraham and his descendants Isaac, Jacob and Jacobs progeny who made up the twelve tribes. Described in Genesis 17:10-14. It also pertains to any foreigner brought into an israelite's home with his money.

    3. Anonymous11:30 AM

      Uncut dicks are GROSS!

    4. Anita Winecooler5:57 PM

      We chose not to have our son circumcised, and there's nothing GROSS about it. It was done because the people were nomads in an arid environment, which meant baths were few and far between. Vaginas, Penises and Underarms don't fare well when "ripe", but with the advent of soap, indoor plumbing, the ritualistic mutilation of boys, essentially cutting away millions of nerve endings that are there for a purpose, became obsolete. The human body, in it's natural state is a thing of beauty.
      Last I checked, people fall in love with the whole person, not just a sex organ.

    5. Anonymous8:12 PM

      Bet your son has never gotten many bjs Anita.

    6. Anita Winecooler3:34 PM

      Are you dense or just a pervert? What parent asks their child questions about their sex life before or after they're married? (unless, of course, they have been informed of other students being exposed to pedophiles in their schools, neighborhoods, churches, etc.).
      If you prefer crew necks over turtle necks because of your religious beliefs, that's fine with me. We chose to leave the decision to mutilate or not up to him when he became an adult, It's like the pro-life/ anti abortion debate.

  10. Whenever someone tells me that abortion is forbidden by the bible, I refer them to Numbers 5. I think it starts around verse 11. It says that if a man suspects his wife of being with another man, he takes her to the temple where the priest will give her a potion that causes her to have her period again. If that ain't Plan B, I don't know what is.

    1. Anonymous7:20 AM

      Very interesting.

  11. Anonymous6:49 AM

    The few times I've ever attempted to discuss religion with a Christian, they always fall back on "oh that's the OLD testament, we only follow the NEW testament. I have to admit I've never read the new one, and have no need to.

    1. Anonymous7:41 AM

      Yeah, that's a good one, I love it when they try this.

      Hmm, why wouldn't the NT be thicker than the OT if it's supposed to be the 'legit' part?? And that being gay stuff doesn't seem to be condemned in yer NT, just in the 'irrelevant' OT....ahhh good times.

    2. Leland9:35 AM

      The trouble with that statement they invariably make (I agree you 100%!) is it is just lip service. Most really just follow the OT and CLAIM they follow the NT.

    3. That is the nonsense of religion for you. The new testament is just a retelling of the new testament nothing from the old was done away with from the old testament in the new testament.

    4. Leland, please. I respect your opinion most of the time, but do not set yourself up as the arbiter of what "most" Christians think or do. Broad-brush statements are the currency of bigots, and I don't think you belong in that camp.

    5. Leland5:50 PM

      Thanks, Jude. I appreciate your opinion of my comments.

      However, in my experience, usually the only people who have that kind of question applied to them are those who seemingly live by the OT. You know, the fundies? Those who live by the teachings of jesus rarely - at least in my 67 years of experience - have that question put to them. It just isn't deemed necessary. Again, in my experience.

      Cruz is an excellent example of someone who lives by the OT. He admits he beats his children. Proverbs. You know, "to spare the rod..."? AND, he wants to impose HIS ideas and "principals" on the rest of us. A true follower of jesus and the NT wouldn't normally do that.

      That is the kind of person who has that question asked, not those who quietly live by the teachings of jesus. Those are the type of people I, personally, DON'T call christian, even though they themselves do.

    6. And I'll bet they then say "Oh, that's the New Testament. We only follow the teachings of PAUL."

  12. Anonymous7:03 AM

    Credit where credit is due - That excellent article is from the Houston Chronicle. Not all Texans are ignorant rednecks.

    1. Anonymous11:08 AM

      Not according to know it all Gryphen!

    2. Leland11:53 AM

      @ 11:08

      I sometimes wonder about people with EXTREMELY limited, yet hateful world views.

      Did it not occur to you that the article may have been published in MANY media outlets? Must you seemingly always attack Gryphen without the slightest hint of thought on your part?

      Why do you take such joy in doing that? It just seems like such a waste of emotion when it is so easy to discount your ignorant, hateful comments.

      And it was so easy to just click on the little blue link called Chron in the 2nd paragraph of the posting. I do believe that if you paid any attention to what he posts, Gryphen ALWAYS posts credit for the particular source he used. Which brings me right back to MY 2nd paragraph. Did it never occur to you there were many media sources for this story?

    3. Anonymous2:40 PM

      Leland, how about the last sentence of 7:03 AM's post? Also, what is so hateful or ignorant about 11:08 AM's post? You get so butthurt over the dumbest things.

    4. 2:40, you didn't find his attack on Gryphen's character a slap? The last I heard, being called a "know it all" was an insult and a challenge to one's intelligence. I merely stated a counter argument to his insulting remark.

      And just so you know, my reply was aimed STRICTLY at 11:08, NOT 7:03. Or did you not catch that at the top of my opening?

  13. Anonymous7:33 AM

    The new age christians hate it when you remind them that women are to keep silent in the church. if they have doctrinal questions, theyre supposed to bring it up with husbands, dads, y'know MEN, and the dudes bring the question up to their priests(also males). 1 Corinthians, verse 34 " is a shame for women to speak in the church." Way back, there were no women preachers where I live. Fast fwd to today and damn don't we have a lot of women preachers. How in the hell do they reconcile that?

    1. Anonymous9:49 AM

      Evangelicals and fundamentalists who believe the Bible is the literal Word of God don't have women preachers. Some pentecostals--the New Apostolic Reformation types (Palin's church)--believe they have received new prophecy in addition to the Bible and they have lots of women prophets, apostles, and preachers.

  14. Anonymous8:34 AM

    As Gomer Pyle would say, "Surprise, surprise!"

    The bible was written by men. Mostly misogynists. It was written to keep women and those not in powerful positions in thrall.

    Then it was translated into other languages under the auspices of some king or other ruler. That ruler had a say in how it was translated.

    If people would take the supposed teachings of 'Jesus' to heart, then maybe man will not annihilate himself. When that annihilation occurs, ole Mother Nature will reclaim the planet that man has so desecrated. Watch the video, 'The wolves of Chernobyl' for an uplifting view of Nature's reclamation.

  15. Anonymous9:12 AM

    Interesting solution for a man "accidentally" causing a miscarriage. Wouldn't that usually be a result of beating the woman? How else- mistakenly causing a camel stampede?

    So, no punishment for a beatdown, small fine for losing a fetus? No wonder it's all so popular with the fundamentalists. Pound away.

    Wild Tortoise

  16. Tennessee Christian9:30 AM

    Though the King James version was made just after the literary renaissance, the classical learning of today is far in advance of that day. The King James version is occasionally defective in its use of tenses and verbs in the Greek and also in the Hebrew. We now have Greek and Hebrew scholars who are able more exactly to reproduce in English the meaning of the original. It would be strange if that were not so.

    It is a natural but a most mistaken idea that the critical study of the Bible is a new thing. From long before the childhood of any of us there has been sharp controversy about the Bible. It is a controversy-provoking Book. It cannot accept blind faith. It always has made men think, and it makes them think in the line of their own times. The days when no questions were raised about the Bible were the days when men had no access to it.

    Criticism does not mean finding fault with the Bible. It is almost an argument for total depravity that we have made the word gain an adverse meaning, so that if the average man were told that he had been "criticized" by another be would suppose that something had been said against him. Of course, intelligent people know that that is not necessarily involved. When Kant wrote The Critique of Pure Reason he was not finding fault with pure reason. He was only making careful analytical study of it. Now, critical study of the Bible is only careful study of it. It finds vastly more new beauties than unseen defects.

    1. Anonymous10:06 AM

      The King James version was produced solely for the purpose of solidifying the power of the ruling class, specifically the men in the ruling class. The translators knew how to stay on the good side of their masters. Scholarship and honesty were simply career limiting choices.

      Furthermore, the texts being translated were intended to enhance the power of the ruling class of the time.

      So if you need a guide to the thoughts and edicts of male nomadic sheep herders out to control the rest of humanity (particularly women), read Judaic/Christian literature (any of them, all of them). Or just dump the whole idiotic mess in the waste bin.

  17. Tennessee Christian11:48 AM

    CINO telltales in this comment section:

    Deep ignorance of biblical and Hebrew history, as well as the history of language and the translations of the Bible, and the popular spread of misinterpretations, assuming they are in the Bible.

    CINOs: May God bless you and fill your heart with loving kindness and charitable understanding of all of His creations and works.

    1. Anonymous6:16 AM

      Dear Tn xtian:
      You can keep your passive-aggressive narcisitic badge of a prayer for anyone's well-being to yourself.
      I have a scientific understanding of evolution, nature, biology, etc. and my heart was filled with loving kindness by MY desire to to good to and for others with no need for a reward or to avoid some huge cosmic spanking by your rage-filled blood thirsty skygod.
      You can give no examples of biblical ignorance of IM'ers because atheists know your stupid bible better than YOU or any of your ilk do. Atheists overall tend to not be afraid of critical thinking, or of poking sacred cows in the eye.
      Here's my prayer for you:
      And my prayer to uncle G: Please publish this comment. I detest tn xtian's condescension.

    2. Anonymous7:11 AM

      "....Narcisitic...." Is that like a narcissistic parasite?(grin)

  18. Jkarov11:57 AM

    I have a dream.

    I dream of the day when humans will finally evolve as a species to leave behind forever the bronze age mythology, all religions and all the superstitious belief systems that cause so much strife and war.

    The bible as we know it is responsible for more of that suffering, violence, and war than anything except the Q'uran

    I dream that some day humans will create a globally collective society that transcends the racial hatred, bigotry, ignorance, war, murder, suffering, rape and the xenophobia, and we can finally work on the real problems of our planet and our environment.

    Until that happens on a global scale we are doomed to the same sad legacy of religion based ignorance, violence. and war that has persisted for thousands of years.

    1. Anonymous1:14 PM

      Imagine all the people.....

  19. Anonymous2:23 PM

  20. Hoffman is one of the best Biblical scholars. Atheists, he is not one of you, but you should read him in spite of--or because of--that fact.
    The Bible is not evil. I'm sorry for all who have been hurt by zealots who twisted scripture to support their own propensity for wrong-doing. The US Constitution, an infinitely simpler document written in English, has also been used in the service of wrong--a crude but apt analogy.

    My path in life, now in my seventh decade, has taken me from lukewarm Presbyterian to complacent Unitarian agnostic to liberal Catholic. I have benefitted from the expert scholarship of Benedictines, then Jesuits, and my own voracious reading and endless questioning. If I live long enough, I may convert to Judaism.

    My personal favorites by Hoffman are his Jewish prayer books. You need not be Jewish to appreciate them. His "Welcoming the Night" is my favorite. For over 11 years my brave, brilliant husband has been dying from Agent Orange-related illnesses. As his dementia has turned him into an unrecognizable stranger with unassuagable paranoid delusions most nights, I find wisdom and strength in Hoffman's sensitive translations. I think no one understands and comes to terms with suffering as well as the Jews.

    Happy reading to all Who can find it in their minds to be open to ideas that some may find radical.

    Pax and bonum

    1. Anonymous3:14 PM

      Buddhist texts are an excellent antidote.

    2. Anonymous3:15 PM

      "liberal Catholic" is an oxymoron.

    3. Leland6:07 PM

      I'm sorry, Jude, but I simply cannot understand how anyone can revere a supposed god who orders such death and destruction on infants and innocent peoples. I cannot understand how someone can revere a supposed god who orders a man to sacrifice his own son - AS A TEST! Even if he did stop it before the deed was done, it was just plain CRUEL! It was a vicious, cruel thing to do.

      I agree that in and of itself, the bible isn't evil. What it represents, IS.

      As one who began wholeheartedly believing in a god, and having that god ignore the pleadings of his children - especially the LITTLE ones! - just shouts of non-existence.

      AND, if he DID actually create this place - just for the sake of argument, you understand - why did he create the viciousness surrounding us. Why create insects that lay eggs in infant's eyes. What the hell have they ever done to deserve blindness by that?

      Sorry, but you enjoy it. I used to. And along with the Qu'ran and the Torah and the Talmud and as much else as I could get. Now it's just a waste of my time. Why waste the time reading about something that claims to know it all when it doesn't exist?

    4. Tried to respond earlier, Leland, but my Nook died. I struggle with faith. It's called "dark night of the soul," or Accedia, the noonday demon.

      My existential curiosity keeps me searching. My lazy agnostic years are long gone. RC now, and satisfied.

      My spiritual director is a practicing psychiatrist, Benedictine nun, and feminist. Odds are she could teach most people plenty. G says the oddest things.

      Bland moral advice has small impact. The Bible has lurid melodrama for emphasis, and unexpected outcomes to make us question our assumptions about how "good" we are and about our best-laid plans. God even reads some of the villainous lines. The overarching themes are missed by people who take the Bible at face value. It's a challenging and unending study, but more than worth it to many millions of us.

    5. 3:15 PM, please spare me your joky snark. Most Catholics are Obama supporters. Many nuns are social activists and feminists. There are millions of liberal Catholics. Why don't you know these things? Pay attention.

    6. Anonymous7:09 AM

      Along with Buddhist texts one could enjoy, don't forget the Tao te Ching! I carry a little copy in my purse and it's as beat-up looking as a babptist's buybull.
      I love to read thru it while waiting in line. It's a great boredom preventer for me. Confuses the hell out of the christian rubes around here.

    7. Buddhism as it's practiced in most Asian countries bears little semblance to the understanding most people in the West have of the religion. (And do not tell Buddhists in Korea or Japan, where I lived for years, that it isn't a religion!)

      The Bible and the Buddha both tell us that life is suffering. Both support the ancient Golden Rule, and also make the point that we often cause suffering to others in an effort to minimize our own suffering.

      The Buddhist recommendation to avoid attachment in order to prevent suffering is too difficult to put into practice for most people. The Bible is more practical in that regard.

      None of the texts you reference advocate condescension and insults directed at others. What satisfaction do you derive from that?

    8. Jkarov,
      You repeat a falsehood that goes unchallenged all over the internet.

      Historians Phillips and Axelrod published their "Encyclopedia of Wars" a few years ago. Of the almost-1800 wars documented in history, fewer than 7% involved religious causes.

      Most wars are fought over territory, resources, social and economic inequality, conflicting political ideologies, in revolt against corrupt and repressive government regimes, and motives such as revenge and a lust for power.

    9. Anonymous 6:16 AM

      Your all-caps F-word insult just screams your loving kindness.

      I've read this blog since 2008. There are atheist commenters who seem like nice, intelligent people, but few of the comments indicate critical thinking about the Bible or about religion in general--or even serious study on the topic. Atheists tend to repeat unexamined assumptions, and to post cliches around common themes. Most have difficulty getting beyond superficial interpretations. E.g., they say religion has caused most of the wars in history. (Wrong--only about 7%-12%, depending on whose historical survey you read and how they attributed some factors.) Yet many atheists take this inflammatory lie as gospel.

      Look at your statement about evolution. Catholics have taught it in their schools for decades. More than half the 2 billion+ Christians on earth are Catholic.

      Jesuit priest/paleontologist/cosmologist Teilhard de Chardin proposed the famous Omega Point theory of evolution; also look up his work on Peking Man. Dr. Martin Nowak is a professor of math, biology, and evolution at Harvard--and a devout Roman Catholic. Can you guess what Dr. James Hannam wrote about in the "Genesis of Science?" There are many such religious scientists, but I intuit you prefer "facts" that support your prejudices.

      No atheists here have remarked on the fact that the Bible scholar featured in Gryphen's post is a Jew who believes in God. I pointed it out, but some people seized on the post as if it supported their atheist biases. This is not a sign of superior critical thinking.

      Gryphen himself quote-mined a text from Luke just a few days ago, from the parable of the 10 gold coins (minas.) He attributed to Jesus violent words which Jesus was quoting from a wealthy nobleman (probably a son of Herod) who commanded the slaying of those who wouldn't follow him. The nobleman himself was probably using hyperbole to make a point. Bible scholars know that the ancient Hebrews often expressed themselves in dramatic hyperbolic language. I've never seen evidence that a single atheist on this site understands the use of such figurative devices in scripture. Most of them seem unaware that some of the harshest verses in the Bible are from rules that apply only to the Levitical priesthood.

      The term "fundamentalist atheist," which so shocked Richard Dawkins, came about because most atheist arguments against Christianity come from the same limited, literal perspective used by fundamentalist Christians to argue in favor of it.

      Best advice for anyone who is unwilling to dig deep into what well-trained scholars know about the Bible, and who holds their own prejudices as unshakeable, should probably not comment on it at all. It just spreads more misunderstanding.

  21. Quote from Joel Hoffman's blog post on Fiddler on the Roof, as he reflects on its relationship to the history of his own Jewish people:

    So it was a treat to look back a few chapters and revisit my place in an ever-unfolding adventure that, I am still convinced, is graced by light and joy and happiness and honor and God.

    I note this for people who won't read the Hoffmans' (Joel and Lawrence) excellent books, and for those who have seized on Gryphen's post as fodder to support their belief that the Bible is useless or worse.

  22. Anita Winecooler6:15 PM

    Thanks for the link and the information, Gryph. We're at the "empty nest" stage, our two daughters married Christians and our son married an agnostic, all three in civil ceremonies. The topic of religion rarely comes up when the "new extended" family gets together, but when it does, the items addressed by this book are taken as (forgive the pun) Gospel Truth.
    I know the Bible was written after many years of passing these stories down from generation to generation, then add the translations from translations and human error, and that's how these things happen. My father used to joke that they rushed the book to the press because someone invented the gutenburg printing press, and they had debt$ to pay.

  23. Also that they aren't the Ten Commandments but more like the Ten Statements or the Ten Suggestions.

    And it isn't Thou Shalt Not Kill. It is Thou Shalt Not MURDER.

    Don't know if that made the top 40 but I know there is a book on translation out there that specifically mentions this "statement".

  24. Anonymous6:19 AM

    Wonder why "Thou shalt not Rape" was not considered?


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