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Does who wrote the Bible matter when it comes to ethics?

I friend pointed me to this article by Bart Ehrman – Who Wrote the Bible and Why It Matters. It didn’t start off so well:

Apart from the most rabid fundamentalists among us, nearly everyone admits that the Bible might contain errors — a faulty creation story here, a historical mistake there, a contradiction or two in some other place.

Unfortunately those “rabid fundamentalists” are more common that Ehrman suggests. One third of Americans believe the Bible is literally true.

But is it possible that the problem is worse than that — that the Bible actually contains lies?

Uh, duh? Okay, that’s the atheist in me talking – I understand he’s using this lead in for journalistic reasons. The middle part of his article is pretty good, explaining how certain parts of the Bible that are claimed to be written by certain people are actually forgeries. But I found one of his specific examples intriguing:

This may all seem like a bit of antiquarian curiosity, especially for people whose lives don’t depend on the Bible or even people of faith for whom biblical matters are a peripheral interest at best. But in fact, it matters sometimes. Whoever wrote the book of 1 Timothy claimed to be Paul. But he was lying about that — he was someone else living after Paul had died. In his book, the author of 1 Timothy used Paul’s name and authority to address a problem that he saw in the church. Women were speaking out, exercising authority and teaching men. That had to stop. The author told women to be silent and submissive, and reminded his readers about what happened the first time a woman was allowed to exercise authority over a man, in that little incident in the garden of Eden. No, the author argued, if women wanted to be saved, they were to have babies (1 Tim. 2:11-15).

Largely on the basis of this passage, the apostle Paul has been branded, by more liberation minded people of recent generations, as one of history’s great misogynists. The problem, of course, is that Paul never said any such thing. And why does it matter? Because the passage is still used by church leaders today to oppress and silence women. Why are there no women priests in the Catholic Church? Why are women not allowed to preach in conservative evangelical churches? Why are there churches today that do not allow women even to speak? In no small measure it is because Paul allegedly taught that women had to be silent, submissive and pregnant. Except that the person who taught this was not Paul, but someone lying about his identity so that his readers would think he was Paul.

So…if Paul really had said these things about women, they would be fine? I understand that Ehrman is using the Bible to try to argue that churches need to stop doing these things, but my point is it doesn’t matter who wrote it or where. If Jesus himself had said those quotes, they would still be unethical.

But maybe that’s just my point of view as an atheist. Whether it’s written by a particular dude or some random other dude, God still doesn’t exist and Jesus still wasn’t resurrected.

But what about the devout believers – the ones who actually base their lives off of these passages? Will this type of argument be enough to change their minds? Maybe that of some individuals, but I doubt it will affect the major institutions. Fundamentalists think the Bible is the literal word of God – it’s contrary to everything they believe to accept that whole passages could be lies. To them, the Bible can’t be wrong.

43% of Americans are young earth creationists. They’re prepared to ignore all scientists in order to keep the Bible infallible – you think they’re suddenly going to change their mind because of a couple of historians?

Maybe I’m being cynical, but I not adopting this as my new tactic to promote equality of the sexes.

EDIT: Case in point. Saw this link from the SSA immediately after writing this post. Campus Crusade for Christ already has a whole website devoted to refuting him. At least he’s freaking the Christians out – that’s always a good start.

Comments

  1. lomifeh says

    Well from what I recall there is evidence that in the past most books from the Bible were understood to be stories and myths not literal. It’s a modern phenomenon that so many take it literally.The gist I got from the passage you quoted as the fact that someone with Pauls reputation otherwise is being used to push forth a view that there is no evidence he actually subscribed to. It does matter who wrote a specific thing in the sense that you can understand the validity and the message. I don’t think that is specific for the bible really, it’s just a general thing.The bigger issue here you point out is that if someone lied and pretended to be Paul then that immediately creates a problem in the idea that the Bible is an infallible book and word of god. If it was such a thing wouldn’t there be no need to pretend to be Paul? I can see where the author is coming from and I agree to a point. The whole history of how the bible came to be pretty much discounts the idea that it really is what they claim.

  2. says

    For those who believe the Bible is inspired/literal word of God, then finding out that the human authors of the books are false witnesses and liars about their identities probably won’t change their core beliefs about the actual content of the words themselves. It might plant a seed of doubt, but I’m not sure it alone could sway anyone into action.Since God is the true author, and the Holy Spirit inspired the text, it doesn’t matter who the person was, to some extent. In this sense, the believer could comfort themselves by thinking of the authors as simply the “instruments of God” or the “mouthpiece” of the Holy Spirit. “True believers” can justify anything, even a fraudulent text. The authorship problem may be more important for churches and denominations that rely on apostolic succession and tracing teaching and traditions back to the disciples and apostles of Jesus.

  3. says

    This argument could be the tipping point for some people. However, most die hard Christians adhere to the “God said it, and I believe it” school of theology. If the writer states he is Paul he must be Paul. God wouldn’t allow a forgery in His book, would he?

  4. Gus Snarp says

    43%? Those poll results really depress me. The only thing that gives me hope is that these people don’t actually know what they believe. Look at the question from June, 2007: Do you think that Evolution, that is, the idea that human beings developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life is true?Total true = 53%Do you think that Creationism, that is, the idea that God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years is true?Total true = 66%So a majority of Americans believe in evolution, while a large majority believe in creationism? WTF? I believe we have a lot of idiots, but I don’t believe that 66%, or even 43% of Americans fundamentally believe in Ken Ham’s vision of creationism. They may think they believe in creationism, but not really. So yeah, Biblical literalists will not be convinced, and there are enough of them to be troubling, but there aren’t that many. I hope.

  5. says

    Well *I* think it’s rather nice to know that the bloke who wrote:”Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. ” (from Corinthians, which Google tells me is a bit uncontroversially attributed to Paul)is not the dude that told me to shutup and get knockedup to get saved. But I’m not sure it matters to people who believe in anything literally. Of course, I’m not sure *any* reality matters to biblical literalists, to be blunt.

  6. says

    Are there really people who don’t believe it matters that someone pretending to be Paul wrote lots of stuff in his name? If so I’d like to borrow their check books and write a few things in their name and see how much it matters then ^_^

  7. lomifeh says

    There is some good evidence that a lot of stuff attributed to Paul later was done for political reasons. That right there tells you alot about how the Catholic church operates imho.

  8. says

    If those polls are both supposed to be representative, then there is a considerable fraction of people who admit the Bible might not be literal truth, but *still* believe in a 6000-year-old universe. That kind of throws me. Of course, the 53% evolution and 66% creationism part suggests that people are not only idiots but also inconsistent.

  9. lomifeh says

    I’m always skeptical of these polls because I can’t imagine that modern society is that fucked up in that sense.

  10. ashleyfmiller says

    His point isn’t an atheistic one or even intended to debunk the bible. He’s interested in the theological implications. He’s not anti-Christian in the way, say, I would be if I was writing. I’ve read his new book (which he is promoting in that article), it’s very good, but it’s almost strictly an argument about theological implications that could be interpreted atheisticly or just as liberal christianity. Its definitely softballed so that maybe christians could read it.

  11. Alt3 says

    The thing about the ethical aspect of the bible is that it is completely divorced from the truth claims of the bible. When it says that slaves are okay or that women are inferior or property it doesn’t matter who said it. It doesn’t matter if the Paul said it, it doesn’t matter if Jesus said it, it doesn’t matter if the CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE said it, it’s still wrong. This is one of the things that promptly snapped me out of my brief experimentation with Christianity, I read the bible and was able to point to specific claims made by the God character that were morally reprehensible. After that I didn’t need any kind of confirmation that this god did or did not exist, I was not a Christian. I think more attention should be given by the atheist community to the morally repugnant tenants of Christianity. Not only because it avoids the litigious debates over the meanings of “God” “exist” and “know” (which seems to be the natural result of a debate over the statement “I know God exists.”) but because I’d say it’s more important that people understand what exactly is unethical about the bible and why.

  12. James Fish says

    The Bible sites the conquests of Joshua slap bang in the middle of the period when Canaan was part of the empire of the Egyptian New Kingdom. Biblical literalists have issues with more than just a couple of historians.

  13. Tony says

    The further one gets into serious theological study, the more they tend to forget the vast chasm between what a religion teaches and what its followers actually believe.

  14. says

    I think you’re attributing to Ehrman something that isn’t evident in the quote you’ve posted. I don’t see him saying that these things wouldn’t be bad if Paul had actually said them, I see him as saying that these things wouldn’t be church doctrine if the early church had realized Timothy was forged. That point is both true and noteworthy.

  15. lomifeh says

    I see where you are coming from but you cannot divorce the two really. They follow what they do because they believe he exists and if god says X is good they will follow it. You are dealing with faith after all. I am of the opinion though that in most cases you can’t convince a True Believer<tm> of anything that won’t fit in with their belief system.</tm>

  16. says

    I’m thinking the people who wrote the bible weren’t liars, they were just writing fiction. I wrote book in first person from someone else’s point of view. Does that make me a liar?BTW: 43%? Wow. That’s insane.

  17. lomifeh says

    It does if you pretend to be someone else so you can influence them to take up your misogynist positions.

  18. KarlVonMox says

    Bart Ehrman is an amazing fellow – I read Misquoting Jesus and its a very insightful look into the origins of the Bible and Christianity, and really drives home how the meme has evolved and its been changed over the years.Yes – Christians are scared shitless of him, because he knows everything about the Bible and is able to point out exactly what is irreconcilable with the Bible and modern Christianity. Of course they fear him. The point he makes is that in the minds of Christians, what Paul actually said carries a lot of weight. Pointing out that it was an imposter weakens the foundation of what they believe. To them it doesnt matter that their belief is mysoginistic – as far as they are concerned it comes from the creator of the universe and should not be questioned.

  19. says

    What’s unfortunate is that 1 Corinthians 13, which you quote, is not about romantic love like it is interpreted in modern times. Apparently the Corinthians had trouble with people speaking in tongues and prophesying, then claiming spiritual superiority over the other believers; Paul’s point in 1 Corinthians 13 is that loving the other believers (not romantically!) is superior to any other gift.I say this because 1 Corinthians 7 advocates remaining unmarried, since marriage is a distraction from God. He wishes everyone could avoid having sex or being married, but grudgingly lets them marry so they don’t go around screwing everyone in sight instead.Read 1 Corinthians 7-14 or so; it’s really interesting.

  20. says

    The portions of the Bible in question are Paul’s epistles, which most certainly were not written as fiction. They were written as letters to real churches with real problems. Paul even claims divine authority for his words in several (like Galatians).

  21. says

    It’s worth noting that Ehrman’s claim that Timothy, Titus and some others are not authentic is not new. This has been known for a long time; it was covered in both of my New Testament courses at school in the textbooks. The only new part is Ehrman wondering what the theological implications are for modern Christians.

  22. says

    First… CCC.. its like the KKK only softer… ;)Next, the history of the Bible has been around for ages. There are more than a few literary dissertations on the fact that the Bible was complied by committee. There is at least one very big book with translations of many of the other documents that were not included into the Bible. Some are very bizarre stories. I believe it is called “The Other Bible” Amazon LinkEven with this, there are those that believe that the Bible is and always has been as it is today. Ridiculous.People of Faith rarely give in to Fact. Shone proof of something they will be even more amazed at the power of God to have laid things out so. Those that rely on Fact rarely give credit to any purely personal experience. Any experience will require the burden of some observable proof, better if repeatable.I may not believe in God, but I do believe in something deeper than electrical impulses firing in my brain. ;)

  23. says

    If CCC is like the KKK, then we need to keep an eye on its members’ activities. People with religious zeal can be very dangerous and have great tendencies to participate in terrorist activities.If there is something deeper than electrical impulses in our brain, it can only be explained with science and nothing beyond, and it cannot be anything mystical because mysticism is just another realm people use to escape reality. Personally, whatever it is can be explained with concepts and how they are form and how we use concepts to deal with reality.

  24. says

    I think you are being cynical. I don’t think anyone expects to single-handedly convince 43% of the population of anything, but obviously that doesn’t stop us! (However, I would not adopt Ehrman’s argument either.)

  25. redValkyrie says

    I’m a bit torn on this. On the one hand, you’re right that the actual authors of the Bible are irrelevant to an atheist who has rejected the whole thing as a source of morality. And the misogyny attributed to Paul is disgusting, no matter who actually wrote it. You’re also right that the only people who follow this sort of thing are unlikely to listen to Ehrman and say, “Oh, wow. Paul never said that. I guess we can be in favor of gender equality now!”That said, despite my own atheism, I find the Bible as a historical document fascinating. The scholarly discussion of who wrote what parts of it, when they wrote them, why, why certain passages were left out… I love this stuff. Then again, I love mythology in general. So I’m happy to see articles like this, just for my own amusement. And actually, now that I think about it, it was partly looking at modern religions this way–as a cobbled-together set of practices and ideas, with clear relationships to ancient politics and other, dead religions–that led to my atheism.

  26. redValkyrie says

    To be fair, you can hardly blame those of us who rely on fact, what with dealing with all the trouble from people who rely on faith. And frankly, a lot of personal experiences simply aren’t reliable. Ask ten witnesses to a car accident what they saw, and you’d think they saw ten different accidents.As for Christian organizations, I don’t know about the regular CCC, but my college had large KCCC (Korean Campus Crusade for Christ) and as far as I could tell, they mostly held singalongs. Or something that looked like singalongs.

  27. Jordannalie says

    Here’s the weird thing: I go to a Catholic university. We are required to take at least three theology courses (I’m on my fifth because I decided to be a theology minor). The first one HAS to be Christian Theological Tradition. THE CLASS COVERS THIS.Seriously, a Catholic university teaches about which of “Paul’s” letters were written by Paul and which weren’t. They also teach about Q (an unidentified source believed to have been used in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke) and the Priestly source, etc. for the Pentateuch (basically, Moses didn’t write it and it wasn’t all by one guy).They KNOW this. They teach it. It’s not a secret.

  28. JimG says

    I love the CCC director’s complaint that Ehrman is “one-sided,” so they want to give another view. He’s right: Ehrman is totally biased in favor of reality.

  29. Sanmigmike says

    I think that fundamentalists also tend to be a bit authoritarian in personality and a good authoritarian does not get that cognitive dissonance that some people get when they try to hold two or more opposed thoughts as true. So they can have two, or three or a dozen…”most critical problem facing American today”…most of us find one “MOST CRITICAL” problem to be enough. So to believe in creationism and evolution at the same time might not be much of a problem for them.

  30. Jay says

    Agreed. I’m quite sure Ehrman thinks misogyny is bad regardless of where it comes from. The question of, “but what if Paul actually HAD been a misogynist?” isn’t relevant.Compare it to the significance of the phrase “under God” not being a part of the original pledge of allegiance. I consider that fact *extremely* historically relevant: it speaks toward Christianity trying to wedge its way into American symbology and mythicism, and then try to act as though it had always been there.However, that certainly does NOT imply that I think anyone should give the concept of God (or even the concept of America as being quintessentially Christian) more credence if “under God”had appeared in the original pledge.

  31. Sanmigmike says

    Ah, isn’t this “faith”? Flaws and problems don’t bother true believers, never has, never will. “Faith” is a way of saying….”Leaving all reason and rational thought here.” I’ve read a couple of books about the problems with the Bible and the believers still dance around and claim that it is all divine (must be since God left it in there…right) but it takes way too much tap dancing and faith to for me. Like the people trying to prove the Bible by using Bible quotes… Faith….Yes, I find it interesting how the Bible and Christianity has grown and changed, a little from here, a little from there…a little pay off to the Romans, a little sucking up to slave owners. How else could we get a document that has you killing your parents and respecting them, supporting slave owners, being used as the reason to fight slavery. one wife, no wife, many wives… Great mythology.

  32. says

    I tried pointing to this in a twitter conversation with a True Believer who seems to be using Ray Comfort’s conversation script. It was important since he was claiming that the bible was a good source of ethical beliefs, and that biblical law supported equal rights for women (?!), meaning that if fair parts were forgeries, their ethical standing was questionable. His response was that he had no reason to trust a heathen like me or Bart. When I pointed out that this was not some kind of secret and that it was well known among Xian biblical scholars he said that it was just a lie. This guy wouldn’t know logic, reason or skepticism if the zombie of Carl Sagan had crawled out of the grave in order to NOT eat his brain.–On another note, Jen, have you been helping R. K. Milholland at Something Positive write his current plotline? I know you two were engaged for about two hours…

  33. says

    Haha, actually I DID help Randy with today’s comic. He gave me a sneak peek and I pointed out that according to canon, Jessie is under 18. Hence cousin Jamie lest he go to jail like the Simpsons porn guy.Helps to have geeky Internet friends.

  34. says

    The whole pantheism thing that the Hebrews deleted from the Bible back in the 5th century BCE is raising it’s head again. If they can’t even admit that Yahweh was only one of many gods, even when their own holy book says so, why should we accept anything they have to say.

  35. says

    It’s not very nice to throw down the atheist card and say “Your argument is invalid because god doesn’t exist.” It just adds fuel to the argument that atheists are supposedly as dogmatic and close-minded as theists.Back when I was a theist (shudder), one of my core principles was that the Bible wasn’t written by god. It was dictated by god to a bunch of stupid desert folks, so things were bound to get lost in translation. If the “hate on women” section of the Bible is shown to be a forgery, it means that otherwise nice and egalitarian Christians can go on with their lives and not lose sleep over contradicting their own holy text.Do I think this is a good tactic to promote equality? Nope. The idea that parts of the Bible could be wrong destroys its infallibility, and that’s just too much for a lot of Christians. They’ll just ignore the evidence and cling to their backwards, hateful, literal interpretation.

  36. says

    I think pointing out the reality of the Bible’s history and origins can have a profound impact on a person’s faith. The obvious example would be Ehrman himself who began studying the New Testament because he had become an evangelical christian in high school and wanted to dedicate his life to it. Learning what he learned about the Bible as well as his contemplation of the problem of evil directly led to his agnosticism. So I guess if it worked on him it can work on others. I think having knowledge of this kind of thing works well for atheists in general. Not only is it interesting, but it gives you something to talk about with Christians when you can’t get them to stop quoting scripture to you. On a few occasions I’ve dragged them into discussions on the authorship and transmission of the Bible and they were left rather speechless as they hadn’t really heard or thought about any of those things before. That’s not to say they became atheists or anything, I have no idea one way or the other on most of them, but I do think it planted the seeds of doubt that the Bible is not the literal 100% word of god and that could pay dividends down the line.

  37. lode1 says

    LomifehI see a balloon, and I have a needle, sorry. Gallup poll December 20, 2010:16% of population believe that evolution created man without any divine intervention. That’s a record high, running as low as 9% over 20 years. 78% percent believe god created man in his present form(40% creationist) or god guided the development of man(38%). Jerry Coyne has a great post showing how the Canadians make us look really bad. 58% of Canadians believe in evolution. http://www.gallup.com/poll/218

  38. LS says

    I always have to wonder if statistics about the number of Americans who believe the bible to be literally true are skewed by the number of Americans who don’t know the actual definition of “literally.”

  39. Rollingforest says

    He could have had Jessie say that she had just turned 18 like in all the other sex related photos that want the youngest girl possible without being labeled pedophiles by the US government, but I suppose that Jamie works too.

  40. Iqhira says

    AAaaaarggghhh, another online comic – that way leads to addiction, procrastination and less work done

  41. says

    I think this kind of thing isn’t going to convince many fundamentalists, but it can get those willing to think to, well, think about religion rationally. I was set on the path to atheism in a similar way. At worst, it might get some cognitive dissonance going so that women have it better within the religious system (for example.

  42. Smoking Glacier says

    So a bunch of guys get together, and try to change the world. Do something for humanity, get some peace, love and harmony going on. That kind of thing. They create a whole belief structure to support that, along with a big man in the sky to watch you when you’re alone and act as a deterrent at the moment when you could head down the dark path. Man cant be trusted to discipline himself. The deception begins.Another bunch of guys have another agenda. Probably have a hard on for telling people what to do. Ends justify the means for these guys, so whats a little identity theft eh? At least they’re “doing the right thing” in the end and furthering their various agendas, one of which is “keep the wimminz out of power”. I really hate it when one bad apple spoils the whole barrel, especially when it was put there deliberately. I hate it even more when you know theres a good apple in there somewhere, but you cant find it because its foq’ing buried in shite.

  43. says

    Right. Some of the epistles were really written by Paul, and some are pseudepigrapha — falsely written in his name. Ehrman argues that this was considered fraud in the ancient world, although it was quite common.

  44. The Nasty Christian says

    Ehrman issues a call to “check credentials” of his detractors. First, let’s check his credentials. An agnostic, an unbeliever, who teaches his individual brand of theology to an arena of believers? Huh? Should an evangelical Creationist be allowed to teach science? Or set the science curriculum for the entire nation of America? Nope. Seems something is missing in each equation.Bart remains troubled by the problem of evil. This question was adequately answered in the Book of Job and fleshed out a lot more in the Gospels, as well as the rest of the New Testament. And by the crucifixion of the Son of Man. Only taking up your own cross solves that riddle. Doers of the word, not just readers…buddy. Said a prayer lately? Even the atheist’s prayer? Didn’t think so.B.E. proves statements by cross-referencing his other books.And I’m supposed to take this ding-dong seriously? Well Bart, there are all kinds of evangelical Catholics with equivalent, and superior credentials than yours, who not only teach at state universities, lofty Ivy League schools, etc. but actually totally disagree with your MANY unproven assumptions.Bart, it’s all been too much for you, man. Let it go. Wouldn’t you be better off selling shoes in a shoe store somewhere? Courage. Stop pissing your pants…for the whole world to see.

  45. jose says

    When you’re considering if a statement is right or wrong, does it matter who said it? Even if it’s God who said it?Saying “this is true because God said it” is petty.

  46. lomifeh says

    I don’t think it is petty so much as a complete and utter cop out. Once you attribute something to any form of deity you are saying that the reasons for it no longer matter because “God said so.” It is a complete abdication of responsibility regarding the statement that was made.Who says something is just as important as what is said imho.

  47. MGP says

    I was disappointed to see that he claims that a number of the authors of the various epistles were not who they said they were, and then doesn’t offer any evidence to support the claim other than “Bible scholars say so”. Not even a link or citation so that I can check his sources out for myself. As skeptical/rational beings, we should be examining the evidence behind the claims before drawing any conclusions about their validity, lest we inundate ourselves in the same fallacies/hypocrisies as our opponents.

  48. says

    The bigger issue here you point out is that if someone lied and pretended to be Paul then…I’ve read that in those times the attribution was understood as, “I’m with Paul,” not to be confused with, “I am Paul.” If that’s so, then there was no pretending involved.

  49. says

    morally repugnant tenantsAs a landlord, I once had a morally repugnant tenant. My assessment was based on wilful damage, though, not on her tenets.

  50. lomifeh says

    Context is what matters here as well as who says it yes. Examples:A white man saying “my people are being oppressed” in the US is speaking out of his ass. A black man saying the same thing is not.Just like today when MS is accusing Google of anti-trust it is perceived in a much different manner than if someone else were to do so. That is what I really meant, who says it colors how the message, whatever message, will be received.

  51. says

    Who wrote the Bible is completely irrelevant when it comes to ethics. Any kind of absolute, universal moral truth that you’re supposed to accept based on faith or obedience alone is suspect in the first place, because no moral principle is going to hold true or be useful in all situations. A moral code is something people should arrive at through discussion and reasoning, and should be subject to constant debate and scrutiny in the context of changing societies, instead of something you simply accept wholesale from an authoritative source, be it a god, a dictator, or a king. Even if you believe that God created the world and that Jesus was resurrected, you still shouldn’t use the Bible as a moral guide. And no one actually does it anyway, right? They just pick and choose parts of the Bible that they’d like to follow and ignore the rest.

  52. jose says

    “A white man saying “my people are being oppressed” in the US is speaking out of his ass. A black man saying the same thing is not.”Oh puhleez don’t give me that. They mean different things by saying “my people”, so they are saying different things (white people are being oppresed versus black people are being oppresed). What matters is the content that is delivered, not the words that are used. Don’t be so literalist. Parse a little before giving an answer.

  53. says

    I think I might have found some long lost letters written by Paul while I was cleaning my desktop, all about treating women as equals, weird. I’m going to send them to the vatican.

  54. Fellmama says

    Hmmm, well . . . full disclosure, I wrote my MA thesis on Tertullian, so I have rather a lot of intellectual investment in Biblical/patristic scholarship.I had written a bunch of stuff here, but it basically boiled down to this: it matters who wrote what, because the New Testament has to be read in the context of the ancient Mediterranean rhetorical tradition. Ehrman focuses on the nuts and bolts of the tradition–who wrote what when; other scholars take it a step further and use his work (or the work of others like him) to make larger points about the [role of, purpose of, function for, exclusion of] [women, slaves, celibates, non-celibates] in the early church. I’m a historian, so of course I’m going to approach it from this angle. It matters as much as the past matters.

  55. TPRJones says

    “Whether it’s written by a particular dude or some random other dude, God still doesn’t exist and Jesus still wasn’t resurrected.”Lies! It’s true that there is no God, but you cannot deny the Truth of Zombie Jesus, All Fear His Heavenly Hunger.

  56. Derbasementcat says

    ……Thank you for mentioning that…no one bellieves me when I say that. It makes me sad.

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