What I Came To Believe About the Bible

It is a little difficult for me to describe what I believed after I gave up on my view that the Bible was the inerrant revelation from God with no mistakes in it whatsoever.  In part that is because there was a long transition period, and over time my beliefs evolved as I studied more, talked with friends and colleagues more, encountered more ideas, thought more.

I was in the perfect situation for this kind of study and reflection.  I was ...

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Another “True” Story that Didn’t Happen? Jesus’ Birth in Luke

I have been trying to illustrate the point that critical scholars who remain Christian have long made, that there can be stories in the Bible that are not historically accurate but that are trying to convey larger theological truths.  My first illustration had to do with the death of Jesus; in this post and the next, I will deal with the birth of Jesus.   This is a topic I’ve dealt with several times over the years on the blog; but ...

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51

Is Theological “Truth” More Important than Historical Accuracy?

In the previous post I began to explain how there could be an account in the Gospels that is not historically accurate because an author is more interested in conveying what, to him, is a theological “truth” than in giving a history lesson about what actually happened in the life of Jesus.  In my view, the early Christian story tellers and Gospel writers (often?) changed historical data in order to make theological points.  What mattered more than historical accuracy was ...

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An Example of a True Story that Didn’t Happen: Part 1

I have been trying to explain (without complete success) that the Bible, in the view of some scholars starting in the early 19th century, could contain “true” stories that “didn’t happen” – or at least didn’t happen as they are narrated.  One important point I want to make about this claim: I am *not* saying that I personally hold this view.  I’m not saying I think these stories are necessarily “true” as far as I’m concerned.  I’m saying that the ...

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Fundamentalism and the Truth of the Bible

I have recently received a number of inquiries about why realizing there may be mistakes in the Bible might lead someone to become an agnostic.  Here is one that came a few days ago:

 

QUESTION:

I want to thank you for your extensive work in explaining … your journey from believing that the bible contained no errors to proving the bible is not inerrant and simply the work of human writers. What I would like to be explained is the necessary logic ...

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How I First Realized There Are Mistakes in the Bible

I have told the story before of how I first came to realize there might be mistakes in the Bible.  Rather than paraphrasing it again, I’ll simply reproduce the account as I presented it the first time I went public with my faith journey, back in my 2005 book Misquoting Jesus.  Here is what I said there:

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Upon arriving at Princeton Theological Seminary, I immediately signed up for first-year Hebrew and Greek exegesis (= interpretation) classes, and loaded my ...

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My Resistance to Change at Princeton Seminary

Several people have asked me to unpack what I meant in the last sentence of yesterday’s post because, well, it doesn’t make sense.  What I was trying to say was that I had a crisis of faith in Seminary – as many people do, as it turns out – because I thought I could prove my faith claims were true (an Enlightenment position: “truth” is objective and can be proved), but the more research I did, the more I found ...

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My Problem(s) With Fundamentalism: A Blast from the Past

What are fundamentalists, and why don’t I like them?  Here is a post I published almost exactly four years ago now.  My views have not changed!

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QUESTION:

You note that fundamentalism is dangerous and harmful. How do you define fundamentalism and why do you think it’s dangerous?

RESPONSE:

There are of course actual definitions of “fundamentalism” that you can find in scholarship on religion, but I sense that you’re asking more for a rough-and-ready description. Years ago I started defining fundamentalism as ...

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Why Don’t People See Discrepancies in the Bible? Readers’ Mailbag October 15, 2016

QUESTION:

I assume that Bart Ehrman today when he reads the books of the New Testament sees large discrepancies between them.  My question is about the precocious sixteen-year-old Ehrman, Did he too see this variousness (which opens up the possibility of inconsistency)? Or did it all as he read it cohere, seem of a piece, convey one doctrinally comprehensive and orthodox and uniform message? And if it did, how does today’s Ehrman think young Ehrman managed to overlook all those obvious ...

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The Inerrancy of the Bible? And Those Who Doubt. Readers’ Mailbag October 2, 2016

 

How did I deal with inconsistencies and discrepancies as a young Christian?  And why does the NT indicate that some of Jesus’ own followers doubted the resurrection?  Those are the two questions I deal with in this week’s readers’ mailbag.

QUESTION:

I assume that Bart Ehrman today when he reads the books of the New Testament sees large discrepancies between them.  My question is about the precocious sixteen-year-old Ehrman, Did he too see this variety (which opens up the possibility of inconsistency)? ...

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