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5.0 out of 5 stars Atheist's Introduction to the New Testament, July 2, 2008
This review is from: The Atheist's Introduction to the New Testament: How the Bible Undermines the Basic Teachings of Christianity (Paperback)
If you are looking for a reason not to believe in Jesus, then this is the book for you. It is basically an introduction to contradictions of the Bible, but focused on the New Testament and those Old Testament passages that relate to New Testament events. The Atheist's Introduction to the New Testament is an advance over other Bible contradiction books in two ways. Instead of just giving a laundry list, it groups related contradictions and shows how they undercut specific Christian doctrines. And second, it gives many tips for rebutting the arguments that Christians use to try to refute the contradictions. Most of the existing Bible contradiction books are pretty old, and it's nice to see one come along that freshens up the topic a bit. Also, it's an easy read - the writing flows well and the tone is not as cranky as some antireligious works. A nice added feature is that it compares various translations of the Bible and shows how contradictions can be covered up by inaccurate translations. Also, there's a whole chapter debunking the Old Testament prophecies that supposedly predict the coming of Jesus. An example of how this book differs from say, Dennis McKinsey's "Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy," is the contradiction between Acts 9:7 and 22:9, where Paul's traveling companions heard the voice from the sky (9:7) and did not hear the voice (22:9). Both books mention this contradiction, but McKinsey is content to just cite it and move on, while Davis goes into the ways in which Christians try to refute it, and then shows why those refutations are not valid. So McKinsey's book is broader, but The Atheist's Introduction to the New Testament is more focused and goes into more depth on the contradictions relating to Christianity. Given the price difference, I would suggest if you are looking for a basic introduction to contradictions of the Bible that you start with the Atheist's Introduction to the New Testament, and then when you are ready to broaden your scope, add McKinsey's Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy to your library.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 4, 2008 12:51:53 PM PST
The reason religion continues to exist in the face of the quantity and quality of the falsifying evidence (such as this book), is that 75 percent of believers have no idea what their Tanakh/Bible/Koran really says, and the other 25 percent are so incapable of rational human thought that, if they had been born into the Flat Earth Society, they would die as members of the Flat Earth Society.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 22, 2009 3:19:53 PM PDT
Excellent review, makrothen.

Posted on Sep 8, 2010 12:29:00 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 17, 2012 1:55:39 PM PDT
Excellent review markothen,

People should also look at a more complete book by the same author: The Atheist's Bible Companion to the New Testament: A Comprehensive Guide to Christian Bible Contradictions. However, the best reference on the issue is "Biblical Errancy: A Reference Guide" which shows more raw citations from scriptures (though the vast majority of the citations are clearly not contradictory if one reads them correctly in a cultural/archeological context or Jewish context), including the Qu'ran. There is more substance in "Biblical Errancy: A Reference Guide" than both Davis' books or even the "Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy". Also books such as Biblical Errancy: An Analysis of Its Philosophical Roots should also be looked at to see how divergent philosophies have affected and caused erroneous biases on the issue of both errancy and inerrancy.

However, to encourage a more balanced research on the issues from at least both sides people should also look at books that address many of these supposed contradictions such as Big Book of Bible Difficulties, The: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation (which lists, in the Introduction, common types of mistakes and erroneous presuppositions made by those claiming there really are contradictions), New International Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties and even New Testament Text and Translation Commentary which gives excellent insights from the earliest manuscripts of the Greek New Testament. Also for issues with dates look at The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings to see how some of the dates that are thought to be wrong, based on our lack of understanding of the usage diverse middle eastern calendars in the Biblical documents, are actually correct when looked at in an archeological/anthropological context. Many times the Roman Calendar is assumed to be the main calendar of the Bible, which of course it never was, and people will make conclusions by using the Roman Calendar as a basis for reasoning.

It is quite hard to prove an actual contradiction in the Bible or any given historical/cultural text because modern biases and assumptions cloud much of our understanding of what we read. Usually the assumptions people make are usually extrapolated to extents that were never intended by the historical documents, sources, or cultures in the first place. "Reification" is a major problem in making interpretations of historical documents since abstractions are often treated as concrete.

One of the biggest errors many make in claiming a contradiction is that they use translations like English Bibles as the major source. Anyone who can read or speak at least one other language knows that translations will differ form the original texts and the original languages because there are many things which are not equivalent, only approximate. For example, the Greek texts use different words for "love" in different contexts (material, sexual, friendship) which generally get translated as just "love" in English. This reduces the significance of some statements from their original context and may give interpreters different vibes. Let us not forget statements that have multiple layers of meaning do exist (such as single pluralities or how gendered languages like Greek and Hebrew do not automatically mean gender identities when masculine words or feminine words are used to describe an entity or thing). God, for example, does not have a sex, but often times in English, which is an ungendered language, people read maleness and gender into it. Relationship, not gender, is what is meant when we read God as "Father" or "He" in the Bible. We have the same issues in Spanish, French, and a grip of other languages. Consulting with a Hebrew and Greek Bible will easily solve many issues and errors that we perceive from reading Bibles in our own languages. Muslims are correct in emphasizing that the Qu'ran in Arabic has less issues than the translations everyone reads because translations do change tone inevitably and juggle context in hopes of getting at the spirit of the text. Its interesting to read how English Qu'ranic translations use "We" sometimes when God speaks of itself.

Hope this helps people get a wider and complete perspective on the issues with errancy and inerrancy.
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