Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Bible (A book report)

By; Karen Armstrong

This is another difficult book to read and understand. It is something like a text book that I imagine might be used in a Seminary to create discussion with students. I will defer to Pastor D. assuming he reads it to interpret the content.
This is an astounding effort by Ms. Armstrong. She follows the origin of the Old and New Testaments as they were created and passed on generation to generation. Mark was written in 70, Mathew and Luke in the late 80’s and John in the late 90’s. She makes the point that these men in their writings separated the Jewish community into good and bad. The bad meaning they did not follow Christ. These words written have been used over the centuries as justification for the persecution of Jews.
We tend to think of the Bible as if it was always as we know it today. She details the endless revisions made over the centuries, revising texts, eliminating books or adding. Whether these revisions were God directed or the work of men is the question she raises.
Until Luther and the printing press, it was something that only scholars and priests could read and study. Luther broke away partly because he was incensed by the papal policy of selling indulgences to swell the coffers of the church.
In the 1600’s people like Zwingli and Calvin wanted their congregations to be acquainted with the entire Bible whereas before they only read portions. Science and Astrology were pointing out facts about the natural world. These men could accept advances as religious activities. Galileo was silenced by the inquisition at about the same time and forced to recant his conclusions that Earth was not the center of the Universe.
The Puritans who ventured to the new world likened their journey to the Exodus. They gave their colonies biblical names like Hebron, Salem, Bethlehem, etc.
In 1859 Charles Darwin published “On the origin of Species by means of Natural Selection”. This created havoc continuing today. Dwight Moody founded the Moody Bible Institute to bring people back to the faith. The Rapture theory was ardently articulated by Nelson Darby during the same time period.
She mentions the role people like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell have had in our time. Their goal was to replace the secular administration with a Christian government run along strictly biblical lines (Page 216).
Let me conclude by admitting my ignorance as far as ascertaining if the content is totally factual or not. Her work was praised by noted organizations and knowledgeable persons. I believe her intent was to prove that the Bible is a living thing in that meanings have changed generation to generation. I liken it to our Constitution. It too is not a dead document but living and changing over time.
If you have the time and willingness to concentrate while reading and want to learn more about the history of the Bible, this book will do it for you. I found it at the Tucson public Library.

Jack B. Walters
3961 N. Hillwood Circle
Tucson, AZ 85750
(520) 722-2958
October 8, 2009

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