Thursday, December 23, 2010

Yale New Testament Course

Since I'm having so much trouble actually re-reading the Bible, I subscribed to several religious blogs and Bible verse a day services, but they didn't motivate me. This week, I started watching the Open Yale Course Introduction to New Testament History and Literature. I wasn't sure I'd learn much from the course, but I thought it might inspire me to blog. Since I grew up in one of the slightly-more-rational denominations where we were encouraged to read, study, and learn as much about the Bible and our church as possible, I knew quite a bit about why decisions were made to include certain books in the Bible. However, I didn't know the details. The second video in the course, From Stories to Canon, reviews the decisions that were made. What books could be trusted? Which should be included? How did we end up with the Apocrypha? If you don't want to watch the video, the transcript is online as well.

I came across another Christian blog today where he explains in a circular way how we know that the Bible is the word of God. Thus he creates this fallacious argument: We know that the Bible is the word of God because it tells us so in the Bible. Sorry, dude, circular reasoning won't persuade a non-believer. The Christian tradition I came from required one to analyze the Bible to determine what God wanted from us. It's a short step from there to analyzing the Bible in a way that creates atheists. A true believer, reading the history of how different books were included in the Bible would conclude that God had inspired the selection of those books. In other words, a true believer can live with the inconsistencies because they choose to believe no matter what. A true believer doesn't need a Jesus Seminar to arrive at a theological consensus about the truth. A true believer selects the verses that support his/her position and ignores the rest. This is why atheists and true believers don't have a lot in common.

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