The Bible is the name used by Jews and Christians for their differing but overlapping canons of sacred texts. It was written and edited by mostly anonymous authors and has gone through many revisions as material was added and deleted over the centuries. The Christian Bible was written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. As strongly advocated by Martin Luther, the Bible is now normally available and read in vernacular languages, which brings additional translation problems. There are over 50 translations of the Bible in English with many having significant differences in interpretation. The Bible has been translated into other languages. Christians and Jews usually consider the Bible to be divinely inspired. Many fundamentalists consider it to be inerrant and interpret it literally.
Despite apologists heavily relying on the Bible, the Bible is not a reliable historical source. It is also filled with long and improbable genealogies, internal contradictions and scientific inaccuracies.
The Bible also contains many morally questionable sections, including atrocities ordered by Yahweh and bizarre laws regarding animal sacrifice, homophobia, misogyny, dietary restrictions, clothing restrictions, sexual restrictions, etc.
Excellent Biblical resource are available at The Skeptic's Annotated Bible.
- Main Article: History of the Bible
The Jewish and Christian Bibles are actually collections of what were originally a number of independent books. The overwhelming majority of Christians refer to the Bible as the combination of Hebrew Scripture, known to Christians as the Old Testament or First Testament; and the New Testament, which describes the life and message of Jesus. For Roman Catholics, the Eastern Orthodox, and some Protestants, the Deuterocanonical books — various writings important in the Second-Temple period of Judaism (often regarded by many Protestants as (or part of the) Apocrypha) — are considered to be part of the Old Testament and as such part of the Bible, although they are rejected by many Protestants and are not in the Hebrew Bible as accepted in modern Judaism. Some books considered deuterocanonical by Orthodox Churches are considered apocryphal by other Orthodox Churches and/or Catholics. For Jews, the term refers only to the Hebrew Bible, also called the Tanakh, which includes the Five Books of Moses (the Torah) as well as the books of the Prophets and Writings. Both Christians and Jews regard the Bible as divinely inspired, with widespread variation on its accuracy, interpretation and legitimacy. Archaeological study has shown that the primary elements the first five books of the Bible, especially Exodus, were around before the Old Testament was. They were found in several unrelated oral traditions around 500 BCE, but the oldest examples of biblical scripture were dated using radiometric dating to have been written between 325 and 125 BCE. The Bible is nowhere near as old as claimed by the majority of Jews and Christians)
Fundamentalists believe that the Bible is both divinely inspired and inerrant. They claim that every word of the Bible is literally true, except for the parts which are intentionally written as allegories or parables. It is free of contradiction and error. So for example, a Fundamentalist would most likely believe in six-day creation because he believes in the literal truth of Genesis.
Liberal Christians take a more open view of the Bible, often believing that it is "inspired by God" but not inerrant. They may believe that, while the Bible is a good spiritual guide, it is not necessarily meant to be taken literally.
Atheists regard the Bible as just a period piece of literature. Its authors may have been sincere when they wrote it, but they were nomadic sheep herders with a narrow perspective on the world. In that sense it is little different than any other ancient text such as The Odyssey: an interesting perspective on the mindset of early cultures, but of questionable accuracy, especially those passages that refer to supernatural events.
Contradictions within the Bible
- Main Article: Biblical contradictions
The first two chapters of Genesis contradict each other on the creation of man. Gen 1:26 Man was created on the sixth day. Notice the first 5 days god was busy creating animals and plants. Gen 2:4-7 Man was created right from the start.
- Main Article: Scientific inaccuracies in the Bible
The Bible was also written well over a thousand years before the discovery of science, which means that the Bible is nearly irrelevant to any scientific discussion. Not only is the literal story of Genesis completely at odds with modern cosmology, but there are many other scientific errors in the Bible.
The Bible is a terrible guide for living, with repugnant sections on:
- What if Satan wrote the Bible?
- History of the Biblical canon
- The Brick Testament
- Fun facts about the Bible
- biblegateway.com An excellent online Bible, searchable in many languages
- The Skeptic's Annotated Bible
- The Fallible Gospels
- RationalWiki's Guide to the Bible
- Bible Study Tools, learn the history of different bible versions and compare verses
- The Bible on the Scripture Project
- The Dark Bible, violence and hatred in the Bible.