Legitimacy of the Bible


#1

Lately I have been doing some research on atheist claims about the Bible. My reasoning behind this was that I wanted to make sure that the philosophy and religion that I love and that I have based my life worldview on has substantial backing.

I was watching a series on YouTube from an ex-Protestant Christian-turned-Atheist called “Why I am not a Christian anymore”.

Two videos of his that were especially jarring were his “A History of God” videos. I’ll provide the links below, but to summarize, his point was that scholars have found that the Old Testament books were heavily tampered with.

More specifically, the early Jewish tribes were rather polytheistic, and for political reasons they started worshipping YHWH primarily above other gods, and eventually added to the Old Testament to make it look like YHWH was the only true god.

Here are the links to the videos for a more detailed explanation:

I love my faith and would hate to leave. I just want to make sure that what I am believing is true, because I value truth above all else. Thank you very much for your input!


#2

What you believe to be true is as true as you believe it to be.


#3

But isn’t the truth of something independent of what one believes?


#4

Yes.

His point is that if an Atheist wants to believe that the Bible is made up or Christianity fabricated, then it’s as true as they’ll allow it to be, and they’ll believe what supports it.


#5

My question is what are you balancing this information with?

If you are only accessing atheist sources from ex-Protestants you aren’t getting a full view.


#6

Ah, that makes sense.


#7

It’s such a big topic, I wasn’t sure where to start with sources. Which one’s would you recommend?


#8

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0770435483/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_dFGwBbC796C74

Here’s one book. There’s another of a similar title that comes to mind, but I can’t quite remember who wrote it.


#9

This looks great, thank you! I’ll definitely check it out!


#10

The atheist is making so many inferential leaps at this point.

The Bible makes it clear that prior to the Babylonian Exile the Israelites went in and out of worshipping multiple gods. They kept adopting the gods of their neighbors. Even king Solomon is described, in the Bible itself, as building multiple temples to foreign gods to please his wives. When the kingdoms of Israel and Judah split, both had issues keeping to the faith, northern Israel more so. Israelites prior to the exile also seemed to have a sort of henotheism, too. It’s all these facts that Jews interpret as resulting in the Exile, that the Jews did not keep their covenant.

So, even in the Bible itself, it’s made abundantly clear that Israel had a polytheism addiction and many peoples throughout their land worshipped other gods.


#11

I like the St. Paul Center. There is much quality Catholic Scholarship coming from this group. You can do a search for Old Testament. https://stpaulcenter.com

You can search YouTube for Catholic Old Testament topics. Some public scholars who do Old Testament work are Fr. Mitch Pacwa, Dr. Scott Hahn, Dr. Anders, Stephen Ray, etc.


#12

That makes a lot of sense, thank you!


#13

Thank you! That’s really helpful, I’ll look into those.


#14

I think it is great that you are willing to ask the questions and search for answers that satisfy you rather than just dismissing challenges because they don’t fit your beliefs.


#15

Read 2 Kings 23. The whole chapter, at least. This is decades before the Exile, and describes all kinds of pagan practices that were being removed during King Josiah’s reign, including idols and other things which had been in the Temple itself. This isn’t the only place, but it’s a quick summary.

People act as if Israel not living up to monotheism in those days is some big secret gotcha. No, it’s not. It’s very explicit even in the Bible that they were indulged in incredibly pagan practices, and in fact the events that follow are given theological meaning because of it.

The atheists are just applying their own interpretive framework to the series of events, which they think are some big reveal.


#16

I am not going to comment on the videos, but as for his statement

“More specifically, the early Jewish tribes were rather polytheistic, and for political reasons they started worshipping YHWH primarily above other gods, and eventually added to the Old Testament to make it look like YHWH was the only true god.”

If someone added that to the old testament to make them look monotheistic, they did a really bad job. Likely Abraham and his tribe were originally polytheistic. Why he and his extended family accepted a monotheistic religion beyond the revelations from God is not clear. But, excepting His family, it is likely that many of the Hebrews were polytheistic until the Egyption slavery. It is likely that many Hebrews practiced polytheism during their slavery. It wasn’t until the Exodus that the law was handed down from God to not worship other Gods, but it is clear that at the first sign of trouble they reverted (if they had even abaondoned) back to polytheism. How much of the Hebrews’ adoption of monotheism upon leaving Egypt was due to politics? Likely some, their “political” leaders, Moses and Joshua where monotheists.

And we see, throughout the Old Testament, after the Exodus that some Isrealites started worshipping false Gods. Getting them back in line was often a function of the “state”.

I don’t know how any of that should affect anyone’s Christianity. If that drives them away, they were really looking for an excuse.


#17

I think the word TAMPERED with is a misuse of the concept of the O. T. and in some instances, the N. T. The O. T. being “old” has been something of an innocent victim of several translations and each translation can have a minor loss of ‘truth’ or clarity. We should try to understan and live the message of the Bible and not break it down in the structure of a sentence in English class 101.


#18

My understanding is that they are relying on the multiple source theory for the creation of Genesis through Deuteronomy, wherein some scholars posit that there were several authors names E,J,L, and D for Elohist, Yahwist (J for Jehovah), Levicital, and Deuteronomist. They conclude that because there are different emphases in different books on titles for God (El vs Yhwh), or on Levitical Law, or on the summary of the law in Deuteronomy, that there must have been multiple revisions of the Torah by different authors over centuries. Because of this, the person in your video says we should just assume the Bible cannot be trusted. Here is the problem with that theory. Its only a theory based on literally zero manuscript evidence that demonstrates the Torah underwent the kind of systematic revision these guys claim. In other words, he is trying to make a humanistic appeal to a method of analyzing ancient scriptures which purports to be scientific based on, zero evidence. The fact of the matter is that the oldest manuscripts of the Torah that we possess demonstrate two things: 1) that as of the second century BC the Hebrew text of the Torah was fixed, and 2) that the Hebrew and Greek translations of the Torah were meticulously maintained in their transmission. The New Testament demonstrates far less stability (and it is still a marvel in its transmission) than the Old Testament manuscripts. To give you some context, the 2nd Century BC Hebrew texts are nearly identical to those from the 7-8th Century. Generally when someone attempts to make the kind of sweeping assertion that the person in your video makes of corruption, they have to present evidence to support their case.


#19

:tada:


#20

What he said.

Scripture itself is clear that the Israelites spent a lot of time practicing polytheism, except when an influential judge or prophet would manage to wean them off it for awhile. And when your atheist gets to the New Testament, the text itself doesn’t shy away from the fact that there were disagreements and competing theologies about Jesus already before the Apostles had all died. The issue isn’t whether those things are true, but how they are interpreted. The secular view presumes that the competing ideas were equally valid and therefore that the “winner” was determined by popularity or force, not truth. The difference in the Biblical writers’ own position (and that of believers who follow them) is that they presume one idea was actually right and the others were deviations from it.


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