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The Bible Against Itself: Why the Bible Seems to Contradict Itself Hardcover – September 15, 2006
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I have found a several good laughs through the years as I watch Christian apologists try to reconcile the different points of view contained within the holy book. It's like watching a game of twister as the positions become more and more ridiculous.
In addition, recent books such as Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (Plus)and Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don't Know About Them) have taken the position that the contradictions do not need defense but should be seen as evidence that the bible should be summarily dismissed as a path to God.
Dr. Helms takes neither of these approaches but rather the course of understanding the writings within their cultural and historical context. This is a refreshing view indeed.
While I will continue to purchase and enjoy the work of Bart Ehrman, I will also keep Dr. Helms on my 'must buy' list for his compelling and educational take on the many mysteries contained within our sacred texts.
I hope you find this review helpful.
Michael L. Gooch
He shows us easily where the origins of the Old Testament came from and how the biblia, or books, came to fruition, how the stories are collections of mythologies and folk tales accumulated over hundreds if not thousands of years. What is even more readily apparent is how the New Testament authors raped and pillaged the Jewish Torah, making it the Old Testament, in order to form and create the New Testament and show that Jesus is the messiah prophesied many years before. The problem, and Helms makes this extremely clear, is that the books were not eyewitness accounts, except for maybe Mark, who would have been very young, and so everything is written from second, third and so on perspective. The gospels were that specific authors beliefs and dreams on how everything should have happened, ultimately hoping to usurp all the written work and leave theirs as the authority. In editing, changing, attacking each gospel and writing it how they believed it to be so they ultimately showed, through the many varied contradictions, that the bible is nothing more than a collection of fictional stories.
Additionally, Helms touches upon prophecies and how each author handled them. They were given credence and power because it seemed that what they were writing upon actually did come true, when in fact it is the author re-writing the history of their past and passing it off as though they are predicting the future hundreds of years down the road. Daniel predicted the apocalypse would come with Alexander the Great and the schism of his empire. But when that didn't happen it had to be re-written, this time to reflect the Roman empire and the fall of Jerusalem during the Jewish-Roman wars. When that didn't happen it was re-written again, again. Thus is prophecy and will continue to be when related to religion.
For the nay-sayers all I can say is read the book. Helms doesn't make claims without support. His book is heavily referenced so that you yourself could go those sections of the bible and see for yourself. Helms makes a very convincing argument and is so well supported that only the blind would not be able to see the truth behind his scholarship. Although this is perhaps a bit brief and could do well as a much larger book, I would certainly recommend this book to anyone interested, and if you attend ASU I would definitely recommend taking his classes.
*Side note: I noticed the tags that people have entered for this and it is kind of funny. Atheist: Is this simply because he studied the bible more so than Christians have and actually read it for what it was? Because Helms is in fact a practicing Christian (Presbyterian if I remember correctly). Someone who criticizes the bible or points out inaccuracies is most certainly not an atheist from that alone. Same goes for Skeptic and Skepticism. Holocaust? Huh?*
His new book, The Bible Against Itself, is the third in a trilogy of such examinations, the previous books being the excellent Gospel Fictions (1988), and Who Wrote The Gospels (1997). All short books, they each contain as much detail and scholarly citation as books four times their length.
The Bible Against Itself delves into many of the outstanding contradictions in the bible, and helps explain them by showing how various books in the bible were written in opposition to other books, to dispute them and hopefully supplant them. Helms chronicles a history of literature that came into being as a result of the constant struggle within a people's culture to identify themselves and their god - a struggle that lasted from the exile to Babylon through the first couple centuries of Christianity. This struggle was comprised of multiple opposing factions, each passionately dedicated to their points of view and as passionately opposed to the views of the others. The literature that espoused these views form a history of the development of Jewish and Christian laws and philosophy that is less concerned with historical truth than it is with persuading the culture to see things according to the writer's point of view. And this persuasion is generally accomplished through threats of damnation, insults, and other vitriol.
Read this book. Read about the prophets calling the other prophets blasphemers, the Paulist Christians labeling the Jacobite Christians dogs and sinners, and vice versa, and the apocalyptic authors erring again and again, but continuing to predict anyway (using as their sources the errors of previous apocalyptic theories).
You'll love it. It's a great book.
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His lies are refuted in these scholarly books:
the research made by the author is incredibly profound and complete !Read more