1. Welcome to Religious Forums, a friendly forum to discuss all religions in a friendly surrounding.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Our modern chat room. No add-ons or extensions required, just login and start chatting!
    • Access to private conversations with other members.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Featured "Why is the Bible so Poorly Written?"

Discussion in 'Scriptural Debates' started by Skwim, Feb 13, 2018 at 6:01 PM.

  1. Skwim

    Skwim Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2010
    Messages:
    20,286
    Ratings:
    +6,107
    Religion:
    Agnostic
    When the article below first appeared it generated a response by Christians one website described as:

    "Right-wing Christians have a white hot emotional meltdown after commentator suggests the Bible is written poorly"

    Here, in part, is that article.

    "Millions of evangelicals and other Christian fundamentalists believe that the Bible was dictated by God to men who acted essentially as human transcriptionists. If that were the case, one would have to conclude that God is a terrible writer. Many passages in the Bible would get kicked back by any competent editor or writing professor, kicked back with a lot of red ink—often more red than black.

    Mixed messages, repetition, bad fact-checking, awkward constructions, inconsistent voice, weak character development, boring tangents, contradictions, passages where nobody can tell what the heck the writer meant to convey. This doesn’t sound like a book that was dictated by a deity.

    A well-written book should be clear and concise, with all factual statements accurate and characters neither two-dimensional nor plagued with multiple personality disorder—unless they actually are. A book written by a god should be some of the best writing ever produced. It should beat Shakespeare on enduring relevance, Stephen Hawking on scientific accuracy, Pablo Neruda on poetry, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn on ethical coherence, and Maya Angelou on sheer lucid beauty—just to name a few.

    Why does the Bible so fail to meet this mark? One obvious answer, of course, is that neither the Bible nor any derivative work like the Quran or Book of Mormon was actually dictated by the Christian god or other celestial messengers. We humans may yearn for advice that is “god-breathed,” but in reality, our sacred texts were written by fallible human beings, who try as they might, fell short of perfection in the ways we all do.

    But why is the Bible so badly written? Falling short of perfection is one thing, but the Bible has been the subject of literally thousands of follow-on books by people who were genuinely trying to figure out what it means. Despite best efforts, their conclusions don’t converge, which is one reason Christianity has fragmented into over 40,000 denominations and non-denominations.

    Here are just a few of the reasons for this tangled web of disagreements and the generally terrible quality of much biblical writing (with some notable exceptions) by literary standards. [most of the following reasons have been shortened]

    Too Many Cooks
    Far from being a single unified whole, the Bible is actually a collection of texts or text fragments from many authors. We don’t know the number of writers precisely, and—despite the ancient traditions that assigned authorship to famous people such as Moses, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—we don’t know who most of them were. We do know that the men who inscribed the biblical texts had widely different language skills, cultural and technological surroundings, worldviews and supernatural beliefs, along with varying objectives.

    Forgery and Counter-Forgery
    Best-selling Bible scholar Bart Ehrman has written a whole book about forgery in the New Testament, texts written under the names of famous men to make the writings more credible. This practice was so common among early Christians that nearly half of the books of the New Testament make false authorship claims, while others were assigned famous names after the fact. When books claiming to be written by one person were actually written by several, each seeking to elevate his own point of view, we shouldn’t be surprised if the writing styles clash or they espouse contradictory attitudes.

    Histories, Poetries, None-of-These
    Christians may treat the Bible as a unified book of divine guidance, but in reality it is a mix of different genres: ancient myths, songs of worship, rule books, poetry, propaganda, gospels (yes, this was a common literary genre), coded political commentary, and mysticism, to name just a few. Translators and church leaders down through the centuries haven’t always known which of these they were reading. Modern comedians sometimes make a living by deliberately garbling genres—for example, by taking statements literally when they are meant figuratively—or distorting things someone else has written or said. Whether they realize it or not, biblical literalists in the pulpit sometimes make a living doing the same thing.

    Lost in Translation
    The books of the Bible were originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, though not in the modern versions of these languages. (Think of trying to read Chaucer’s Middle English.) When Roman Catholic Christianity ascended, church leaders embraced the Hebrew Bible and translated it into then-modern Latin, calling it the Old Testament. They also translated texts from early Jesus-worshipers and voted on which to include in their canon of scripture. These became the New Testament. Ironically, some New Testament writers themselves had already quoted bad translations of Old Testament scriptures. These multi-layered imperfect translations inspired key doctrines of the Christian faith, the most famous being the Virgin Birth.

    Inside Baseball
    A lot changes in 2,000 years. As we read the Bible through modern eyes, it helps to remember that we’re getting a glimpse, however imperfectly translated, of the urgent concerns of our Iron Age ancestors.

    It’s Not About You
    The Gospel According to Matthew (not actually authored by Matthew) was written for an audience of Jews. The author was a recruiter for the ancient equivalent of Jews for Jesus. That is why, in the Matthew account, the Last Supper is timed as a Passover meal. By contrast, the Gospel According to John was written to persuade pagan Roman prospects, so the author timed the events differently. This is just one of many explicit contradictions between the four Gospel accounts of Jesus’s death and resurrection.

    The Pig Collection
    My friend Sandra had a collection of decorative pigs that started out small. As family and friends learned about it, the collection grew to the point that it began taking over the house. Birthdays, Christmas, vacations, thrift stores…when people saw a pig, they thought of Sandra. Some of the pigs were delightful; others, not so much. Finally, the move to a new house opened an opportunity to do some culling.

    The texts of the Bible are a bit of a pig collection. Like Sandra’s pigs, they reflect a wide variety of styles, raw material and artistic vision. From creation stories to Easter stories to the book of Revelation, old collectibles got handed down and inspired new, and folks who gathered this type of material bundled them together into a single collection.
    .
    .
    .
    A good culling might do a lot to improve things. Imagine a version of the Bible containing only that which has enduring beauty or usefulness. Unfortunately, the collection in the Bible has been bound together for so long that Christian authorities (with a few exceptions) don’t trust themselves to unbind it. Maybe the thought of deciding what goes and stays feels overwhelming or even dangerous. Or maybe, deep down, Bible-believing evangelicals and other fundamentalists suspect that if they started culling, there wouldn’t be a whole lot left. So, they keep it all, in the process binding themselves to the worldview and very human imperfections of our Iron Age ancestors.

    And that’s what makes the Good Book so very bad.
    Source and More
    So, whatdoyathink? Aside from whatever value you may ascribe to the Bible, is it poorly written or not?

    .

     
    • Winner Winner x 5
    • Like Like x 3
  2. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
    Staff Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2004
    Messages:
    64,126
    Ratings:
    +19,722
    Religion:
    Erotic Dancing Girls
    The article makes only a weak case for the Bible being poorly written in my opinion.

    EDIT: I'm speaking of the article here. I happen to agree that at least some of the Bible is poorly written (and some is very well written), but I don't think the article makes much of a case for its thesis.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  3. allfoak

    allfoak Alchemist

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2014
    Messages:
    4,260
    Ratings:
    +1,477
    Religion:
    My Life
    Poorly rewritten would be more accurate.
    To the point that the original message is impossible to find.
     
  4. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Ignorant Atheist Capitalist Libertarian Gearhead
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2010
    Messages:
    117,056
    Ratings:
    +27,215
    Religion:
    Vantology
    I don't have no Bible learn'n, so I must go by what people who study it tell me.
    There are many opinions, but it seems that the ones who say it's "well written"
    have a common thread in explaining how. As I recall, it works this way.....
    God inspires the writers to get his word right.
    His word is so incorruptible, that even the translations are right.
    True believers will be guided with spiritual insight to get the right understanding.
    I've asked why not all Xians agree with each other.
    This is because the ones who disagree (with the one doing this explaining) aren't real Xians.
     
    • Like Like x 2
    • Winner Winner x 2
  5. Gerry

    Gerry Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2017
    Messages:
    572
    Ratings:
    +330
    Religion:
    Connected to the vine.
    First, the Bible is perfectly written. The many mistranslations are a problem, but can be overcome with research.

    The Bible was inspired by an infinite God. There is nothing wrong with the message, the problem lies with the readers (finite beings), especially the ones who want to find something in it to fit their lopsided worldview. Such as bashing homosexuals.

    Second, it’s a very personal love letter from a husband to his bride.
     
  6. Evangelicalhumanist

    Evangelicalhumanist "Truth" isn't a thing...

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2013
    Messages:
    1,841
    Ratings:
    +1,642
    Religion:
    None, a humanist who doesn't even worship humans
    You may be right. The article, only several paragraphs long, could hardly do the topic complete justice. But the Bible itself, all 783,137 words (KJV), is -- for anyone with good reading skills -- the very best case of all for the poverty of its writing.

    By the way, I will grant that there are extremely beautiful texts in the Bible -- works of real poetry, real wisdom. I love Ecclesiates. I love the KJV translation of 1 Cor 13 -- except that I translate the Latin "caritas" as "love" rather than the KJV "charity."

    On the other hand, there's a tremendous amount of truly awful stuff, as well as some very bad writing. I know I'll never convince any Christian, but little things like the attempted genocide (lauded in the OT) of the Canaanites is simply wrong and evil. How, really, could you find one book ("the Bible") to be convincingly a single entity, and beautiful, and well-written, when it says "do good to those that despitefully use you" and "kill every man woman and child, saving only the females who have not known men?"

    I mean, really!

    (And sorry, I didn't look up those last quotes -- they're from memory and so probably not exactly accurate -- but they say what the Bible says.)
     
    #6 Evangelicalhumanist, Feb 13, 2018 at 6:34 PM
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018 at 6:48 PM
    • Like Like x 2
  7. Evangelicalhumanist

    Evangelicalhumanist "Truth" isn't a thing...

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2013
    Messages:
    1,841
    Ratings:
    +1,642
    Religion:
    None, a humanist who doesn't even worship humans
    And, generally speaking, what's the first thing a husband wants to do to his bride?
     
    • Funny Funny x 3
    • Like Like x 1
    • Winner Winner x 1
  8. David T

    David T Well-Known Member
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2011
    Messages:
    2,848
    Ratings:
    +813
    Muir got it so I would say engage nature directly rather than reading about it, might actually be a something important, not that hard but rare.

    That said the below is horrid writing it makes zero sense. I mean where do I begin?

    There must be some kind of way outta here
    Said the joker to the thief
    There's too much confusion
    I can't get no relief
    Business men, they drink my wine
    Plowman dig my earth
    None were level on the mind
    Nobody up at his word
    Hey, hey
    No reason to get excited
    The thief he kindly spoke
    There are many here among us
    Who feel that life is but a joke
    But, uh, but you and I, we've been through that
    And this is not our fate
    So let us stop talkin' falsely now
    The hour's getting late, hey
    All along the watchtower
    Princes kept the view
    While all the women came and went
    Barefoot servants, too
    Outside in the cold distance
    A wildcat did growl
    Two riders were approaching
    And the wind began to howl


    Songwriter: Bob Dylan
     
  9. savagewind

    savagewind Something, not nothing
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2012
    Messages:
    32,050
    Ratings:
    +3,398
    Religion:
    none
    All of it? Leviticus 13:2-4
     
  10. Skwim

    Skwim Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2010
    Messages:
    20,286
    Ratings:
    +6,107
    Religion:
    Agnostic
    Are you suggesting that god expects each reader to recognize where these mistranslations occur and then research whatever resources there may be so as to correct them?

    Just to be clear, the issue here isn't the message, but its presentation.

    .
     
  11. whirlingmerc

    whirlingmerc Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2016
    Messages:
    1,532
    Ratings:
    +207
    Religion:
    Christian
    The Bible is not inspired 'as a transcriptionist' that would actually be more an Islamic view
    Regarding the Bible, they are 'the oracles of God' as it says in Romans, oracles being God speaking but God speaks through people and in their style.

    Yes the Bible is 'God breathed' as it says in Timothy, but also in the style of the writers.... both are true
     
  12. whirlingmerc

    whirlingmerc Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2016
    Messages:
    1,532
    Ratings:
    +207
    Religion:
    Christian
    The world would like to claim God is a mumbler ... but... no He is not.

    A listening issue?
    .

     
    #12 whirlingmerc, Feb 13, 2018 at 7:38 PM
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018 at 8:09 PM
  13. Hubert Farnsworth

    Hubert Farnsworth Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2016
    Messages:
    789
    Ratings:
    +475
    Religion:
    Devout Agnostic
    For being written by the guy who created the entire universe with all of its complex mathematical laws of physics, the bible is pretty underwhelming.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  14. Phantasman

    Phantasman Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2017
    Messages:
    630
    Ratings:
    +167
    Religion:
    Christian gnosis
    Good article. The orthodox see the Bible as God written. I don't. Just to suggest it is inane from what I view it. 1000 people can read Websters dictionary and come to the same conclusion. Not so with the Bible.

    It's not as much poorly written as it is a hamburger of thoughts. The steak being trimmed, ground up and include some not so steak pieces to feed people. We are told to eat Christs flesh, and the mystery (Jesus and Paul both said) evades most. They want to eat Moses, prophets, Revelations, Jews, etc. etc.

    The very verse that dictates what to eat, they refuse to eat.

    John:
    Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

    If one wants to learn of God, the Spirit will lead them. Not the Bible, Priests, churches or many who say that they know. The Gospel is a seed. And for most, they still see a seed. The seed is useless until it grows and blooms.

    The orthodox miss this message, which is the basis of the Word, simple and easy:

    "Become zealous about the Word. For the Word's first condition is faith; the second is love; the third is works. Now from these comes life. For the Word is like a grain of wheat. When someone sowed it, he believed in it; and when it sprouted, he loved it, because he looked forward to many grains in the place of one; and when he worked it, he was saved, because he prepared it for food. Again he left some grains to sow. Thus it is also possible for you all to receive the Kingdom of Heaven: unless you receive it through knowledge, you will not be able to find it."- Secret Book of James

    Some cannot see the forest for the tree's.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  15. KenS

    KenS Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2013
    Messages:
    3,238
    Ratings:
    +680
    Religion:
    Judeo/Christian
    The above may have made some angry... it just makes me laugh. There is always a clown!
     
  16. Father Heathen

    Father Heathen uǝɥʇɐǝH ɹǝɥʇɐℲ

    Joined:
    Feb 29, 2008
    Messages:
    25,137
    Ratings:
    +8,675
    Religion:
    Agnostic Panendeism
    He had ancient primitives mumble for him, apparently.
     
    • Winner Winner x 2
    • Like Like x 1
    • Funny Funny x 1
  17. sunrise123

    sunrise123 The sea remains the sea whatever the drop thinks
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2014
    Messages:
    20,587
    Ratings:
    +7,066
    Religion:
    Love
    It was rewritten by committees and groups of people who were not inspired.

    And then there's the problem of translation: Traduttore, traditore (translator, traitor). The Biblical Hebrew/Aramaic was translated into a version of Greek (or was originally written in Greek). Then it was translated into English.

    I've seen serious differences between the KJV and other English versions. For example one version of the "second greatest commandment" The second most important commandment is like this one. And it is, "Love others as much as you love yourself." changes the meaning. "as yourself" means that we are all one in essence. "as much as you love yourself" is something different.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  18. 2ndpillar

    2ndpillar Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2013
    Messages:
    759
    Ratings:
    +43

    You might want to try what Thomas Jefferson and Isaac Newton did. They threw out the leaven of the Pharisee, and that gives a better focus, once you get rid of the leaven, and the tare seed. The “gathering up” of the tare seed, will happen at the “end of the age”. (Matthew 13:39-41).

    As noted in Isaiah 6:9-10, the Scriptures weren’t meant to be understood by every man. If man understood, “I should heal them” (Isaiah 6:10).
     
  19. Skwim

    Skwim Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2010
    Messages:
    20,286
    Ratings:
    +6,107
    Religion:
    Agnostic
    So if god knew that what he said would not be understood by everyone why would be say it? Either it makes no difference to one's faith, in which case it's irrelevant, or it does make a difference, but god doesn't care that some people won't get it and thus be deprived of its importance. The point being, if it is truly important why deprive others of it? In my book, this is what an uncaring, base, and contemptible being would do.

    .
     
    • Like Like x 1
  20. 2ndpillar

    2ndpillar Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2013
    Messages:
    759
    Ratings:
    +43

    You are like the pot questioning the potter (Isaiah 45:9). The only ones who cannot “understand” are the “wicked” (Daniel 12:10). If they would turn from “wickedness” to “righteousness” then they would have “insight” (Daniel 12:10). That hasn’t happened.

    New American Standard Bible (Isaiah 45:9)
    "Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker-- An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth! Will the clay say to the potter, 'What are you doing?' Or the thing you are making say, 'He has no hands '?
     
Loading...