Archive for the ‘Scripture’ Category

The Exodus Debunked: Archaeological Issues


(Patheos::ATP) – Jonathan MS Pearce:

We must first remember that ancient Egypt was a very literate context with a huge amount of recording of events and, well, an awful lot of things. As with any sort of Bayesian approach to history, we can do away with claims such as absence of evidence is not evidence of absence because when we would expect evidence and it is not there, then we genuinely do have a problem when assessing the overall probability of a given interpretation of data being true.

In this case, we would definitely expect to see some evidence of the Exodus as described in the Bible because it was such a massive supposedly historical event. The rebuttal so often heard is that, since history is written by the victors, the Egyptians were interested in rubbing out this embarrassing set of events from their recorded history. However, the ramifications of the Exodus would have been so huge that there simply would be no way that this event wouldn’t be referenced in some manner.

In fact, the only appearance of Israel as an entity in all the texts and inscriptions and is artefacts of Egypt’s is in a very brief reference dated to the end of the 13th century BCE. This is, of course, the famous Merneptah Stele, a victory stele of the Nineteenth Dynasty. It is on one-line postscript to some detail all is of some victories in Libya. As Bradley states, it is a sort of “meanwhile, back in Canaan” (p.267):

“Ashkelon has been overcome; Gezer has been captured; Yano’am is made non-existent. Israel is laid waste and his seed is not.”

And that’s it. That is the totality of reference to Israel in Egyptian history at the time. …

tippling 2018/03/16 archaeological-issues

Finkelstein, Silberman: The Bible Unearthed

Wikipedia: The Bible Unearthed


The Real Lessons from the Story of Joshua


(FTB) – Mano Singham:

The lack of historicity of the Bible is rampant. To take just one example, there is no evidence for the triumphalist story of Joshua leading the Israeli soldiers, just returned from their (also fictitious) captivity in Egypt, in one victory to another over the various towns in Canaan. The most famous battle is the one for Jericho. But archeological excavations reveal that far from being a big fortressed city whose walls fell under a military onslaught that was favored by their god, Jericho was an insignificant little town that was unwalled.

Such stories, even if fictional, are not harmless. Because they are told to children as something glorious (and praised in song about even today), they serve to indoctrinate young children with the tribal mindset that atrocities are acceptable as long as they are done by ‘our’ side (by definition good) against ‘their’ side (evil).

The real lesson from the story of Joshua is that people are most dangerous, and can be most cruel, when they think they know the mind of god and believe that he is on their side. …

singham 2011/05/19 joshua

Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld: Battle of Jericho

The Exodus Debunked: Chronology


(Patheos::ATP) – Jonathan MS Pearce:

“… In the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month Zif, which [is] the second month, that he began to build the house of the LORD.” (1 Kings 6:1 KJV)

There has been much written about the chronology of ancient Egypt and it is still very much a work in progress. Young Earth Creationists and Biblical Maximalists (those who try to maximise the veracity of the Bible in and through archaeology by using it circularly as a foundation to benchmarking dates, as opposed to Biblical Minimalists) try very hard to massage and co-opt in order to harmonise. Trying to tie in the enslavement of the Hebrew people and the position of vizier that Joseph took on with the utter lack of evidence for such things outside of the Bible is a difficult pastime. …

tippling 2018/03/07 chronology

John Loftus: Christianity in the Light of Science

The Exodus Debunked: Camels


(Patheos::ATP) – Jonathan MS Pearce:

The Exodus account is one of the key stories of the Bible, creating a foundation upon what so much else in the Bible is built. Without the truth of the Exodus, the truth of Moses, the Mosaic Law and any number of other claims are brought into suspicion.

Previously, I have shown you the ridiculous notion of the Exodus account.

I am going to revisit this subject with a number of articles, this first one concerning camels. There are several anachronisms in the Bible and this is a major example. …

tippling 2018/03/02 camels

Moses parts the Sea

None of This Really Happened


(Patheos::Godless in Dixie) – Neil Carter:

Everything that happened in the first five books of the Bible is pure fiction. And the next few books don’t get much better. They are stories made up to teach lessons and to provide some kind of political basis for competing factions of ancient Israel, quarrels which no longer mean anything to us today but leave us with the mistaken impression that this people group existed many centuries before it actually did. …

godlessindixie none-really-happened

Malmesbury Bible

Ten Commandments That Would Have Changed the World


( – Valerie Tarico:

For two millennia, or maybe three if the Old Testament stories are rooted in history, people who sincerely believe the Ten Commandments to be the apogee of divine guidance have been doing things like pillaging, slaughtering other species, burning books and witches and infidels, owning sex slaves, beating children, conquering heathens, and generally deciding who counts and who doesn’t based on gender hierarchy, religion, and tribal boundaries. Imagine how radically different Western history might have been if the Ten Commandments went something like this:

  1. This above all shall ye take as my first command: Thou shalt treat living beings as they want to be treated. And the second commandment is like unto it:
  2. In as much as be possible, thou shalt avoid afflicting pain or sorrow, which shall be unto thee my signs of ill and evil.
  3. Thou shalt honor and protect all of creation, for I the LORD have created it that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
  4. Thou shalt have sexual relations with neither human nor beast who chooseth not freely what pleasures thou mayest offer.
  5. Thou shalt not beat the child, but by admonition and instruction with kindness shall teach both wisdom and skill.
  6. Thou shalt do unto members of other religions and tribes as thou dost unto thine own.
  7. I, the LORD your God, forbid thee to own other persons be they woman, man or child; neither shall ye subject any gender nor race one to another, but shall honor my image in all.
  8. Thou shalt not destroy the lands of thine enemies, nor poison their well, nor salt their earth, neither shalt thou cut their shade tree nor burn their vineyard, nor wantonly slaughter the beast of their field.
  9. Thou shalt wash thy hands before eating and shalt boil the drinking water that has been defiled by man or beast.
  10. Thou shalt ask the questions that can show thee wrong, so that through the toil of many, from generation unto generation, ye may come to discover the great I AM.

This list of Ten Commandments would have changed the course of history. Think Crusades, or the Inquisition, or Salem, or the American Holocaust, or the slave trade, or Northern Ireland, or the Iraq War.

It would have changed history despite the fact that it is seriously flawed. Some points are redundant. Important concepts are missing. The thoughtful reader will immediately notice gaps or think of improvements. And that, precisely, is my point. People with their brains engaged and moral intuitions intact can do better. …

valerietarico 2014/06/19 ten-commandments

Rembrandt: Moses with the Ten Commandments

Twitterati Go Nuts over Suggestion that Bible is Badly Written


( – Valerie Tarico:

God forbid we should talk about the fact that the Bible, despite some wise and lyrical passages, is a boring tangled mess.

After a storm of protest on Twitter and in comment threads, Salon retracted and removed my recent article, “Why the Bible is So Badly Written,” saying that it failed to meet their editorial standards. But which standards were those? Notwithstanding its provocative title and lede, the article summarized a series of well-known flaws in the Bible along with facts about how the book was constructed. It proposed (as did Thomas Jefferson) that the Good Book could use a good edit. Reviewed before publication by a retired religion professor and a professional editor, and errata corrected, the analysis was factually defensible and reasonably clear.

What the article definitely violated were the sensibilities of many Christians and orthodox Jews, and an array of literature lovers from Christianized cultures. …

valerietarico 2018/02/09 twitterati

Twitter thunderstorm

Biblical Health Care


( – Valerie Tarico:

Throughout the Bible, both Old Testament and New, physical health is largely a spiritual matter. Healings come from prayers, rituals of repentance, and miraculous intervention. In Chronicles, King Asa, who has a severe foot ailment, is held up as a bad example for seeking help from physicians and not from God. By contrast, King Hezekiah prays when he falls ill, and Yehovah adds fifteen years to his life.

For those who don’t want simply to pray and wait, the Bible does actually prescribe or describe a variety of healing practices. Unfortunately, healthcare in the Bible, perhaps more than any other topic, reveals the authors to be men of their time – the Iron Age. Like prescriptions against homosexuality, Hebrew and early Christian health practices appear to be shaped largely by surrounding cultures and the “yuck factor.”

If there were any room to doubt, a quick overview of biblical health care is a great reminder why Abrahamic religion should not be dictating health policy. …

valerietarico 2012/07/20 biblical-health-care

Duerer Prayer

Why is the Bible So Badly Written?


( – Valerie Tarico:

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, in fact, 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. …

valerietarico 2018/01/28 badly-written

New American Standard Bible

Giving Names to Gods


(FTB) – Mano Singham:

The relationship between the Jewish god and the Christian Trinity is ambiguous. Further complicating matters is that Jews tend to have rules about not using their god’s name explicitly and when they do, leaving out vowels, thus making the full name of their god ambiguous. But the recent discovery of old manuscripts apparently gives the full name, vowels and all. …

singham giving-names-to-gods

Shema with Tetragrammaton with vowels