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Snake Handler Killed by Snake

A snake-handling Pentecostal pastor named Jamie Coots, probably the most famous one in the country because he was on a reality TV show about that subject, was killed by a snake that bit him over the weekend. He probably could have been saved, but he also refused treatment for it.

The Middlesboro, Kentucky preacher who starred in a reality show about snake-handling died Saturday night after being bitten by a snake.

The Middlesboro Police Department said that at around 8 p.m., they responded to a possible snake bite at the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus [sic] Name church, but that its pastor, the star of the National Geographic Channel’s Snake Salvation, Jamie Coots, had already left the scene by the time they arrived.

EMS responders then went to Coots’s home, where he was found suffering from what they believed was a snake bite. They attempted to administer treatment, but Coots refused on account of his belief that God would not allow him to die from a snake bite.

I really wonder how his congregation will rationalize this away. The usual excuse is “well he just didn’t have enough faith.” But if you have enough faith to handle snakes in the first place and enough to refuse medical treatment because you’re so completely certain that God will save you, how much more is needed? And how is faith measured? Milligrams?

Comments

  1. colnago80 says

    I’m sure that the blogs resident physics professor and math department chairman will be along with his no true Scotsman shtick.

  2. raven says

    There are three possibilities here.

    1. Coots did not have enough faith in jesus.
    2. The bible is wrong about what superpowers xians get according to the added late addition in Mark.
    3. Venomous snakes are…venomous and can kill you.

  3. keithb says

    I posted this on cuttlefish, but it is too good not to repeat.

    Tonio K should have the last word:
    I HANDLE SNAKES

    it’s my life
    it’s my decision
    it’s my idea of a good time
    it’s my religion
    i don’t make no sudden movements
    can’t afford to make mistakes
    i’m a fearless man
    i handle snakes (y’all)

    the lord of hosts
    has got to like me
    else this thing here
    (this one right here)
    would surely strike me
    the one man lays down 10 percent
    another man trembles and quakes
    i save my money
    i handle snakes (y’all)

    i handle snakes
    well i hug ‘em and i kiss ‘em
    i handle snakes
    and if they kill me
    i’ll sure miss ‘em

    (i handle snakes
    i love it when they listen
    listen)
    i handle snakes
    and if they kill me
    i’m sure gonna miss ‘em

    ’cause it’s my life
    it’s my decision
    it’s my idea of a good time (yes it is yes it is)
    it’s my religion
    However
    i don’t say hallelujah
    i don’t even say grace
    but i make my statement
    i say it with snakes

    ©1986 N.Y.M. ASCAP/Bibo Music ASCAP

  4. Phillip Hallam-Baker says

    And the kicker is that the particular verses he was following are interpolations added to Mark by later scribes after the invention of the resurrection story. The earliest sources for Mark end at 16:8. Since it is not very likely the scribe would leave out the most important parts or that the scrolls would get cut off in the middle of a sentence, what follows is clearly additions by later scribes.

    http://biblehub.com/mark/16.htm
    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark+16&version=NIV

    And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.

    Of course if Richard Carrier is right and Jesus is mythical, the OT figure put onto earth, then the Jewish Jesus cult would have started with Peter’s vision of the Jesus from 400 years ago appearing on earth and Mark would have been written sometime after Paul’s vision and attempt to sell Jesus to gentiles.

    So rather than this being a later fragment added onto Mark, it could be a part of the original history of the cult before Mark invented the Jesus narrative that someone found later on and decided to tack onto the end since it seemed to fit.

    If so handling snakes and drinking poison would be some of the earliest crazy in the church…

  5. lordshipmayhem says

    I usually measure faith in terms of how many litres their lithium levels are short of the recommended levels.

  6. dugglebogey says

    I can tell you exactly how every other christian justifies this.

    There once was a flood, and a man’s neighbors came to his house and said come with us in our car, we’ll save you, but the man said “god will protect me.” Then a neighbor with an off-road vehicle came by but the man said “god will protect me.” Then a boat came by and the man said “god will protect me.” So the flood kills the man and he goes to heaven and says WTF god, why didn’t you protect me? And god says “hey, I sent a car, and off-road vehicle and a boat, what else do you want from me?”

  7. raven says

    “And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

    This is one of the carrots of xianity. You get a bunch of superpowers.

    Driving out demons, speaking new languages, immunity to snakes and poisons, curing the sick, moving mountains with prayer, and making wishes come true.

    However, no one has ever seen these superpowers.

    There is only one known xian superpower and it is quite rare. The ability to make huge amounts of money by babbling on TV and in megachurches.

  8. busterggi says

    At least the snake behaved as a snake hormally does so the congregation did see one example of sanity.

  9. sigurd jorsalfar says

    The rationalizations began immediately: “But when it’s your time to go, it’s just your time to go,” Cody Coots, son of Jamie Coots, said. They really have no good explanation at all for why they handle snakes or for what a death through snake bite means about their faith in their god. A spurious passage in their holy book talks about it, yet they completely and persistently ignore what obvious must follow from a snake bite death and instead fall back on tedious and shop-worn ideas about fate.

    What also made me angry about this was how a local judge rationalized not pressing charges against snake handlers, even though the practice is illegal:

    “If the court thought that a trial would act to deter future snake handling in church, my decision would be different,” Bell District Judge James Bowling Jr. wrote to the county attorney. “But you and I both know that this practice is not going to stop until either rattlesnakes or snake handlers become extinct.”

    That’s from this article about it. It enrages me because this judge would never apply this type of reasoning to any other crime such as, say, a drug crime, even though we all know that the practice of taking drugs isn’t going to stop for the same reasons. It’s just another example of the hypocrisy of christian privilege.

  10. says

    “Milligrams?”

    Hell no, the ‘Merican religion isn’t measured in European style commie-socialist units. It’s measured in… yea, I lost the thread of this joke. I just imagine there are people who would legit be offended by you using metric.

  11. says

    dugglebogey,

    I can tell you exactly how every other christian justifies this.

    If you think that is how “exactly every other Christian” justifies this, then you are a deluded idiot.

    Because many Christians and biblical scholars (of all stripes, i.e. including secular biblical scholars) do not justify this at all. Instead, as raven of all people hinted, by they note that the absence in some of the earliest extant manuscripts and textual analysis make it almost certain that the Marcan appendix (Mark 16:9-20), which contains the motivation for Pentecostal snake handling, was a addition and therefore not canonical.

  12. julial says

    Seems that real herpetologists have found that serpent handler’s snakes don’t bite chiefly because they are too ill, having been kept badly.
    http://www.npr.org/2013/10/18/236997513/serpent-experts-try-to-demystify-pentecostal-snake-handling

    Why are the handlers bitten so rarely, and why are so few of those snakebites lethal?

    After the story aired, NPR was contacted by snake experts who strongly suggest that a snake’s reluctance to bite a religious serpent handler may have more to do with the creature’s poor health than with supernatural intervention.

    So if we could get them healthier snakes….

  13. ledasmom says

    According to Terry Pratchett/Neil Gaiman in “Good Omens”, faith is measured in alps – that is, by its ability to move mountains.
    Beauty, of course, is measured by its ability to launch ships; beauty sufficient to launch one ship measures at one milliHelen.

  14. Moon Jaguar says

    Heddle, do you think the Marcan appendix will be deleted any time soon? Holy Bible (revised 2014)?

  15. tbp1 says

    @#18, So in addition to being clueless, they’re animal abusers, apparently. I can’t say I find that surprising.

    I have also read that they tend to pick (relatively) less venomous, less aggressive species (no coral snakes, in other words).

  16. arakasi says

    North American venomous snakes are really not very dangerous. They tend to be reluctant to bite something as large as a person, and most bites inject little or no venom. If Coots hadn’t been so convinced that god would save him and just gotten some anti-venom in the first 2 hours, there is about a 99% chance that he would still be alive.

    There is a reason why most snake-handling cults are in the US and not, say, Australia

  17. zenlike says

    16 jimbo701

    I’d like to nominate him for a Darwin Award.

    Too later, he already procreated. His genes are in the pool, for better or for worse (but seeing that his genes are now following in his footsteps, maybe that won’t be for long).

  18. says

    Moon Jaguar,

    Heddle, do you think the Marcan appendix will be deleted any time soon? Holy Bible (revised 2014)?

    Nope. It will (like similar, questionable passages) simply continue to be set slightly apart and noted (as it is in modern translations) that there is good reason to believe it was an addition.

  19. julial says

    Further reading in the NPR article yields synchronicity:
    They specifically mentioned the idiot in question:
    http://www.npr.org/2013/10/18/236997513/serpent-experts-try-to-demystify-pentecostal-snake-handling

    One of the pastors they level criticism at is Jamie Coots, who regularly takes up serpents in his Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name in Middlesboro, Ky. Coots was featured in NPR’s story…

    So did Jamie improve his animal husbandry in response to being criticized? oops.

  20. Nemo says

    And how is faith measured? Milligrams?

    Ooh, I know this one: mustard seeds. (Of course this is equivalent to the “alps” unit ledasmom mentioned. One mustard seed of faith = one alp of motive power.)

  21. says

    And how is faith measured? Milligrams?

    The SI unit is the Jebon, and typical levels in the human brain are in the microJebon range. Though I think this guy may have been taking fewer than the FDA recommended 250 nanoJebons per day, which would explain his susceptibility to the snake venom. Vitamin Mary is often recommended as an adjunct, but most researchers think it works by making you avoid the snake rather than as an anti-venom, and Pentecostals aren’t into it.

  22. sigurd jorsalfar says

    … beauty sufficient to launch one ship measures at one milliHelen.

    Do keep in mind that “ship” in that case only applies to an ancient ship, such as a trireme, ledasmom. According to Pentagon accountants, when you factor in modern technology, inflation and cost overruns it takes at least two dozen Helens to launch a modern aircraft carrier.

  23. U Frood says

    I thought Christianity had this idea that it was foolish to test God’s power in this way, and that’s why his followers aren’t proving his existence by performing miracles left and right.

  24. busterggi says

    “Nope. It will (like similar, questionable passages) simply continue to be set slightly apart and noted (as it is in modern translations) that there is good reason to believe it was an addition.”

    Godfrey Daniels heddle! Are you saying the bible isn’t the truthfully inspired word of god but a human construct edited for an agenda which has been and still can be cherry-picked by devious believers to make their personal agenda seem like the word of god?

    Why, it might as well all be a work of man-made fiction!

  25. says

    If these guys were really serious, they’d be importing black mambas instead of playing with their wussy rattlers like a bunch of lukewarm religious fencesitters.

  26. says

    “dugglebogey,

    I can tell you exactly how every other christian justifies this.

    If you think that is how “exactly every other Christian” justifies this, then you are a deluded idiot.”

    It is precisely because of unfortunate misunderstandings like this one that I coined the word, “KKKristian” (afaia) several years ago–and why I continue to use it.

    I got no beef with christians, but KKKristians, well, fuck them.

    I expect that not that large a %age of the christians look at the whole practice of snake handling and assorted other fundie bullshit as anything but that.

    I hope that will be of some help if there was any confusion going on. Otoh, if ya’ll just wanna fight? Get ready to Rumble!

    BTW, any word on whether the rev was rollin’ on the floor and speaking in tongues before his demise?

  27. sigurd jorsalfar says

    busterggi, what most people don’t realize is that the problems with the bible stem from the fact that it was a hasty novelization of God’s successful but now lost feature film “The Holy Movie”.

  28. coffeehound says

    @# 34,

    Godfrey Daniels heddle! Are you saying the bible isn’t the truthfully inspired word of god but a human construct edited for an agenda which has been and still can be cherry-picked by devious believers to make their personal agenda seem like the word of god?

    No, no! It’s definitely the inerrant word of God, some parts are just less inerrant than others….

  29. says

    Salvation on Sand Mountain is a really good book on snake handling. It’s written by a journalist who wanted to investigate the death of a snake-handling preacher by getting to know the members of a snake-handling congregation and listening to them talk about why they do it.

    Short answer: Ecstasy. No, not the drug. The feeling of a wild, dangerous connection with the divine. Singing, dancing, yes, speaking in tongues, and taking up serpents.

    I think if people want to do this, we should let them. But their insurance shouldn’t cover it, if it doesn’t cover recreational drugs.

  30. anubisprime says

    Ironic really…evolutionary theory holds up and natural selection exerts its will.

    Pity it did not bite him in the ass…that would be poetic at the very least!

  31. says

    Ironic really…evolutionary theory holds up and natural selection exerts its will.

    Natural selection has no will, and this has nothing to do with evolution that I can tell.

    What’s the irony, again?

  32. says

    @Gretchen (42)
    “What’s the irony, again?”
    As his plane crashed down, he thought “well isn’t that nice.” Also, he was apparently in a plane.

    Also, he had a black fly in his Chardonnay.

  33. Sastra says

    Here’s some more information on the death:

    His son, Cody, said he has suffered eight snakebites before, so his family thought this recent one would be like the others.

    “We’re going to go home, he’s going to lay on the couch, he’s going to hurt, he’s going to pray for a while and he’s going to get better. That’s what happened every other time, except this time was just so quick and it was crazy – it was really crazy,” Cody Coots said.

    The snake handlers handle different kinds of snakes. One of the commenters over at WEIT suggested that Coots may have built up an antibody tolerance for venom from previous snakebites — but this particular snake was a different species. If so, it explains why the snake handlers are so over-confident that God’s going to save them. Experience.

    Of course, the death will likely be viewed as puzzling but, like all puzzles sent by God, the challenge is to solve it with faith.

  34. kevinalexander says

    It’s simple, If you BELIEVE!! then god will protect you from harm and if you BELIEVE!! then god will take you when he wants you. It’s blessed if you do and blessed if you don’t.
    Not at all like science where you have to keep looking because you don’t know everything.

  35. cjcolucci says

    If memory serves, the late Rev. Coots has already sired offspring, so he is ineligible for a Darwin Award, otherwise richly deserved.
    I knew of a person, purely secular, who had professional reasons for handling snakes. He routinely did it without gloves because he was sure he could tell when a snake was planning to bite — though he couldn’t explain how he knew. Out of curiosity, he had an expert film him doing this, and the expert noticed certain subtle but visible behavioral cues to when the snake was planning to bite. The working hypothesis was that the handler had subconsciously noticed these cues and was reacting to them without being consciously aware of what he was seeing. Make of that what you will, I’m simply passing it along.

  36. grumpyoldfart says

    Apart from teasing snakes, did Coots ever do anything interesting, clever, or helpful during his life?

  37. Phillip Hallam-Baker says

    Mark 16:17-18 “And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

    It just struck me that this prophecy actually fits a bunch of doctors armed with anti-Venom, iPhones and Siri rather than the daft old Coots.

  38. Michael Heath says

    Mark 16 (RSV):

    15 And [Jesus] said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. [There’s that near-infinitely evil god going off again.] 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

    Snake handling is to drinking poison what God healing someone of cancer is to God recombining someone blown to bits by a bomb.

  39. The Gregarious Misanthrope says

    Obviously, faith is measured in milli-Grahams. A Billy milli-Grahams is a lot of faith.

  40. birgerjohansson says

    Phillip Hallam-Baker @7 beat me to it.

    Reading “Misquoting Jesus”, I found that the passage about serpents and not being harmed by them -inspiring the snake-handling cults- was *not* present in the oldest fragments of the gospel (there are no originals left).

    So the pastor died in vain, even from the perspective of faith.

    Read idea history research. It can save your life. The Darwin Award is not really a substitute.

  41. birgerjohansson says

    Reading the link provided by Phillip Hallam-Baker I now understand why Christians are unwilling to accept the earlier, shorter version of Mark. It contains no reference to Jesus actually rising but ends with the women running away. By contrast, the bogus lines strenghten the case for the resurrection. This is the central tenet of faith so the bogus text stays in the Bible, too bad if some people die of snakebite as a side effect

  42. birgerjohansson says

    “So if we could get them healthier snakes….”

    We should offer to trade in their unhealthy snakes for healthy ones. And once we get the unhealthy snakes, we have them treated by veterinarians before releasing them in the wild. Win-win for everyone.

  43. Nick Gotts says

    I think if people want to do this, we should let them.- Gretchen

    I don’t, because of the cruelty to snakes it involves.

  44. Nick Gotts says

    the absence in some of the earliest extant manuscripts and textual analysis make it almost certain that the Marcan appendix (Mark 16:9-20), which contains the motivation for Pentecostal snake handling, was a addition and therefore not canonical. – heddle@17

    So what is generally regarded by biblical scholars as the earliest account of Jesus’s life and death almost certainly made no reference to any post-mortem appearances by the central character. That ought to tell you something, heddle, but I’m sure it won’t. It’s also notable that the last verse before the likely “addition” (what a nice neutral term!) says that the women who found the tomb empty said nothing to any man – which raises the question: when did even the empty tomb story start to circulate? Was this detail included in Mark 16:8 to explain away the fact that no-one remembered the tomb’s emptiness being mentioned at the time?

  45. says

    birgerjohansson,

    Reading the link provided by Phillip Hallam-Baker I now understand why Christians are unwilling to accept the earlier, shorter version of Mark. It contains no reference to Jesus actually rising but ends with the women running away. By contrast, the bogus lines strenghten the case for the resurrection. This is the central tenet of faith so the bogus text stays in the Bible, too bad if some people die of snakebite as a side effect

    I love this post.

    Oh it’s wrong–100% wrong–nobody advocates keeping it because it strengthens the case for the resurrection. I am confident that the vast majority of Christians are willing to accept the evidence that the ending of Mark is not canonical– and be happy that the snake passage is an addition.

    But I love this post because I can literally go years without hearing something new. With the Marcan appendix, every other criticism I have heard was related to why we want to cheat to drop it (the snake handling stuff sure is inconvenient but, hey, we’re cafeteria Christians so we’ll just pretend it doesn’t belong). But this argument–not that we are trying to jettison it for being inconvenient but that we are trying to keep it for its convenience–this argument is new to me–I had to stop and think about it–so thanks. Thanks for being original–at least to me.

  46. says

    “as this detail included in Mark 16:8 to explain away the fact that no-one remembered the tomb’s emptiness being mentioned at the time?”

    So now we know where Seal Team 6 got the idea to “deep six” Bin Laden?

  47. birgerjohansson says

    Heddle,
    There are as many forms of Christianity as there are Christians. I should have followed the example of Democommie and used “KKKristians” for the subset we are talking about here (snake handling/extremely conservative).
    Anyway, historically those who question a passage in the Bible will not find much support for a deletion, no matter how strong the evidence that it was a second-or third century addition. Even the KJV with its translation errors still has a wide fan base. For an outsider like myself looking in, it is difficult to see an objective reason for churches to adhere to discredited passages . It is possible the motive I suggested (in regard to KKKristians) for retaining the passage is not the motive for more moderate Christians to keep the old versions of the Bible.

    So what is it? Ordinary inertia? An emotional attachment to the Bible version of one’s childhood? This is the central document of a whole worldview so why not incorporate the results of painstaking textual analysis in the printed version instead of having to look up links?

  48. busterggi says

    heddle, “I am confident that the vast majority of Christians are willing to accept the evidence that the ending of Mark is not canonical”

    Riiiiiggghhtttt – non canonical, its just a coincedence that all those Christian bibles contain it – they don’t really mean it.

  49. freehand says

    U Frood: I thought Christianity had this idea that it was foolish to test God’s power in this way, and that’s why his followers aren’t proving his existence by performing miracles left and right.
    .
    This. There are numerous “bible believing” denominations who do not handle snakes. There are admonishments in the bible to not test God. The Southern Baptists who raised me would say that we should not show off by testing God, but if handling a snake were to occur in the course of events (say, rescuing an injured hiker) then a miracle would surely occur if the handler had sufficient faith. Unless of course god had other plans. He does work in mysterious ways, after all.
    .
    The general attitude in most American fundamentalists is quite practical and straight forward, despite their hostility to science. “God helps those who help themselves.” A Southern Baptist rancher doesn’t pray to Jesus to milk the cows; he gets up and does it his own self.
    .
    And yes, Heddle, Grandpa would have said that your attitude towards the bible is exactly why they distinguish themselves as bible believers. The believe that every word of the [King James} bible is true.* Except when Jesus said a rich man can’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven; he was just joshin’ about that.
    .
    * You will find few Southern Baptist scholars who are expert on the history of the bible and how it was eventually assembled and edited. They don’t want to hear about it. I have been told that the KJV bible is the only inspired and reliable one. This describes some tens of millions of US Christians.

  50. says

    busterggi

    Riiiiiggghhtttt – non canonical, its just a coincedence that all those Christian bibles contain it – they don’t really mean it.

    How was it that I could not have anticipated such a airtight refutation?

    birgerjohansson

    Anyway, historically those who question a passage in the Bible will not find much support for a deletion, no matter how strong the evidence that it was a second-or third century addition.

    The KJ-only types are a small minority. If you go into non- KJV only churches you will find all types of popular translations that omit or denote disputed texts, and for example, you won’t find the KJV proof text for the trinity. Here is a good summary.

    freehand

    And yes, Heddle, Grandpa would have said that your attitude towards the bible is exactly why they distinguish themselves as bible believers. The believe that every word of the [King James} bible is true.* Except when Jesus said a rich man can’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven; he was just joshin’ about that.

    That is silly. There are many, many non-KJV only churches that call themselves “bible-believing”. It is not a synonym for KJV only. That view (KJV only) is a minority position.

    * You will find few Southern Baptist scholars who are expert on the history of the bible and how it was eventually assembled and edited. They don’t want to hear about it. I have been told that the KJV bible is the only inspired and reliable one. This describes some tens of millions of US Christians.

    Bullshit. I happen to know that the preferred version at the SBC’s flagship seminary (Southern) is the ESV. Altough Southern’s president, Al Mohler, endorses the NASB as the best translation. It is not a position (not even close) of the SBC that the only inspired bible is the KJV. You are making shit up.

    Furthermore, all the SBC seminaries will have profs who are experts in the formation of the canon. Your only argument will be a circular: “Oh, but they don’t count.” (Disclaimer, I am not SBC)

    You (like many others) have a comfy simple-minded stereotyped view of evangelical Christians as bumpkins with three rows of buck teeth, a view that I am sure you do not want to have disturbed. Citation needed that 10’s of millions of American Christians are in KJV-only churches.

  51. busterggi says

    Dear Sweet heddle,

    Pardon me for not realizing that the ‘immutable word of god’ canonical bible can be re-written & reinterpreted however anyone wants to do so and yet somehow it is unchanging and absolute truth.

    So basically the bible is whatever version anyone wants it to be – you believe your personal version just as every other Christian believes their personal version no matter how much those versions disagree.

    Fan fiction & retroconning at its finest.

  52. says

    busterggi,

    So basically the bible is whatever version anyone wants it to be

    OMG, that is simply devastating! Did you think of this criticism all by yourself? You should publish that in a first rate journal of philosophy. I doubt that any theist, anywhere, would know how to respond to such a total demolition.

  53. busterggi says

    Heddle, just because my comment was simple doesn’t make it any less accurate.

    You believe in your personal version of Christianity which you admit is based on a book compiled by a series of ignorant &/or lying authors/editors who knew almost nothing about their own history &/or made it up for theo-political purposes.

    You admit your belief is based on crap yet you still defend that crap – serious cognitive dissonance kiddo.

  54. Kellie Boettger says

    Well the pastor got all he was asking for. that being a test of the strength of his God! He lost the test and so his disciples should question his teachings, not just about religion, but also about reptiles. When doing training in becoming a snake handler, it is important to be taught be competent herpetologists who know about snakes and what can and can’t kill people. There are companies that specialize in professional snake handler courses and none would advocate taking reckless risks with deadly serpents.

  55. birgerjohansson says

    Heddle et al

    With the coming of e-books it should be relatively simple to provide Bible versions with interactive features to see wether a passage is a later addition, comments about the internal early Christian disputes that occasionally ended with a passage being inserted to strenghten this or that faction, passages changing the meaning because of a translation error etc. Thus readers could get an easy-to-use tool to comprehend the documents in depth.
    Also apochrypal texts and comments on why they were rejected. Add postscript about what is borrowed from Buddhist active in Alexandria: the rosary, the concept of a monastery.

    This could also extend to the Old Testament, so the reader can keep track of which passages were written by the” J source”, the “E source”, the “D source” the “P source” and transitional passages probably inserted by the redactor who cut and spliced the different documents into a single narrative. Also it could include the Qumran scrolls with comments about the differences between the various Jewish groups.

    The background about the rivalry between Levite and Aaronite priests is essential to understanding why some texts belittle Aaron while others describe Moses in a less flattering light. Also, add references to details that do not fit into the alleged era, like camels in bronze-age Palestine or the iron age armor of Goliath. Also, rferences from items borrowed from other religions (infant Osiris saved by a floating reed basket, Mesopotamian flood myth). If you take the Bible seriously you owe it to the reader to get full insight into the processes behind its creation.

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