Author: Robin Woodsong
I have heard this assertion repeated over and over again. Inerrancy is Fundamentalist jargon that the Bible is completely free from error.
Most modern Pagans have the advantage of knowing this is not true, but some still show an almost superstitious reverence for the Bible. I have heard of some young witches turning to Christianity. I would not argue with their decisions but I would like to give them some background of the Bible so they can make fully informed choices.
Christians maintain that the difference between their religion and all other is that theirs is based on history, all others are based on myth. This is a convenient fiction that has allowed the Christian religion to evangelize one quarter of the world population. Some research into this claim shows that most of the incidents of the Old Testament can be found in the myths and legends of older cultures. The creation, the flood, the tower of Babel, the trials of Abraham, even the miracles of Moses are Jewish adaptations of older Pagan myths. Biblical scholars date the earliest of the Old Testament writing around 960 B.C.E. All of the Pagan myths quoted are much, much older.
We now have the strange situation were our Pagan myths were copied, rewritten and told back to us to show how poorly we uneducated Pagans understand God's will.
All of us are familiar with the story of Noah, but few of us has heard the Chaldean myth of the flood.
The deity Cronos appeared to him (Xisuthrus) in a vision and warned him that upon the fifteenth day of the month Desius there would be a flood, by which mankind would be destroyed. He therefore enjoined him to build a vessel, and take with him into it his friends and relations, and to convey on board everything necessary to sustain life, together with all the different animals, both birds and quadrupeds, and trust himself fearlessly to the deep. After the flood had been upon the earth, and was in time abated, Xisutrus sent out birds from the vessel. He therefore made an opening in the vessel, and upon looking out found that it was stranded upon the side of some mountain.1
The legends of Moses leading the children of Israel out of Egypt is a retelling of the story of Bacchus, the Sun-god.
Bacchus had a rod with which he performed miracles, and which he could change into a serpent at pleasure. he passed the Red Sea, dry shod, at the head of his army. By the same mighty wand, he drew water from the rock, and wherever they marched, the land flowed with wine, milk and honey.2
Some of the most fun I have had is finding some of the mistranslation of the Bible. This is my favorite.
And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had. Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh. Genesis 24:2
That's not what it said in Hebrew. In the Hebrew the servant grasped him by his soft parts, his testicles. It is obvious that in 1611 the translators of the King James Bible could not bring themselves to portray the father of the Jewish nation having his testicles held by his chief servant. This was a common practice in the ancient middle east. The word testament was derived from the same root word as testicles, I guess that is why the Christians have two of them.
Contradictions are throughout the Bible. In Mark 2:25 Jesus is talking to the Pharisees, a Jewish religious sect, about the Old Testament story of David taking holy bread from the temple.
Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungered, he, and they that were with him?
How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him?
The problem with this passage is that Abiathar was not high priest at the time. Lets look at the reference in 1 Samuel 21:1.
Then came David to Nob to Ahimelech the priest: and Ahimelech was afraid at the meeting of David, and said unto to him, Why are thou alone, and not a man with thee.
David goes on to take the shewbread and gives it to his men to eat.
Ahimelech was the priest, not Abiathar. Abiathar was the son of Ahimelech. Mark confused the two when he wrote his gospel.
Another contradiction is in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Matthew states that Jesus was born in Bethleham, then Joseph and Mary took Jesus and fled to Egypt because Herod was killing all children under two years of age. They returned from Egypt upon the death of Herod. Luke also states that Jesus was born in Bethleham, but after 33 days, the time of Mary's purification from childbirth, Jesus was presented in the temple in Jerusalem. If Herod was hunting children, a fact that no secular source mentions, he would have posted a few guards to get those presented to the temple. The holy family could not have been both in Egypt and in the temple in Jerusalem.
Jesus is the focal figure of the Christian religion. But how historical is he. We have seen that there are contradictions in the Gospels. The figure of Jesus is much more easily understood if one looks to the myths of surrounding cultures. which predate the birth of Jesus.
The admission that Christianity had the same doctrines surrounding Jesus as the Pagan religions hand surrounding their gods came from Justin Martyr in a letter to Emperor Adian.
In saying that all thing were made in this beautiful order by God, What do we seem to say more than Plato? When we teach a general conflagration, what do we teach more than the Stoics? By opposing the worship of the works of men's hands, we concur with Menander, the comedian; and by declaring the Logos, the first begotten of God, or master Jesus Christ, to be born of a virgin, without any human mixture, to be crucified and dead, and to have rose again, and ascended into heaven: we say no more in this, than what you say of those whom you style the Sons of Jove. For you need not be told what a parcel of sons, the writers most in vogue among you, assign to Jove; there's Mercury, Jove's interpreter, in imitation of the Logos, in worship among you. There's Aedsculapius, the physician, smitten by a thunderbolt, and after that ascending into heaven. There's Bacchus, torn to pieces; and Hercules, burnt to get rid of his pains. There's Pollux and Castor, the sons of Jove by Leda, and Perseus by Danae; and not to mention others, I would fain to know why you always deify the departed emperors and have a fellow at hand to make affidavit that he saw Caesar mount to heaven from the funeral pile?3
So how did Justin explain the similarities between Paganism and Christianity. Using blunt language, he was writing to fellow Christians, not the Emperor, he explains.
It having reached the devil's ears that the prophets had foretold that Christ would come he (the devil) set the heathen poets to bring forward a great many who should be called the sons of Jove, (i.e., the Sons of God.) The devil laying his scheme in this, to get men to imagine that the true history of Christ was of the same character as the prodigious fables and poetic stories.4
This is the same explanation that is given today by Christians apologists.
Lets looks at some of the "myths and fables" that inspired the stories of Jesus.
One of the universal qualities of a savior is a virgin birth. These are some of the Pagan Gods who were born of a virgin; Bacchus, Horus, Adonis, Hercules, Crishna, Buddha and too many other gods, kings and prophets to mention.
Those who descended into Hell and rose again in three days; Zoroaster, Osiris, Horus, Adonis, Bacchus, Hercules, Mercury, Balder and Quetzalcotle.
Gods and prophets who will judge the dead; Buddha, Crishna, Oriris, Ormuzed, Aeacus of the Greeks.
Gods who were hung on a cross. Prometheus, Crishna, Indra.
Gods who were saviors; Bacchus, Hercules, Apollo, Serapis, Mithras, Hermes.
I know of no Christian doctrine that is original. From the Virgin Birth to the Second Coming, all teaching of Christianity are borrowed from Paganism.
So how did Christianity vanquish the Pagan religions. There is no one answer. One of the major reasons was the suppression of knowledge. The burning of the Library of Alexandria by Thophilus, the Bishop of Alexandria, was only the first step in keeping knowledge from the masses.
Theophilus's successor, Saint Cyril, roused a mob of monks and killed Hypatia, a Pagan philosopher and teacher. The Christians stripped her, dragged her into a church, clubbed her to death and cut her to pieces, scraped her flesh from her bones with shells and burned her remains. This ended the tradition of Greek philosophy in Alexandria. This scene was repeated over and over again as Christianity spread. The result were the Dark Ages. Ceisus, a Greek of the second century, ridiculed the Christians dependence on faith, with no reference to reason.
They are forever repeating; do not examine, only believe, and thy faith will make them blessed. Wisdom is bad thing in life; foolishness is to be preferred.5
After the Dark Ages the enlightenment brought back rational, critical thought. Along with rationalism came the seeds of humanist Christianity. Christianity not wedded to the innerency of the Bible. Humanist Christianity has much in common with the new traditions of Pagan thought.
In many ways Christianity is a wayward stepdaughter of Paganism. There will always be those in both religions who would continue the conflict and distrust. It is up to all of us to find our common ground and work towards, if not reconciliation, mutual tolerance.