The Bible consists of ancient writings,
gathered, edited and selected by religious appointees
from a range of other material now lost to us.

We often like to think of these as original material,
but this is seldom true. It has been sanitised;
adapted to the current orthodoxy of the past,
over centuries of copying and correction.

Some see the whole package as inerrant and God given,
bravely, often agressively, struggling with,
its inconsistencies and errors.

Ancient Legends Ancient Legends


We now know these as the Creation stories
and those of the fathers of the Jewish people.

The oldest material probably predates written script
and is the transcribed stories told by ancient man,
the legends told around prehistoric campfires
or whispered in the shaman's cave.

Here is a mix of ancient explanations for existence;
how God made the world, with millenial timescales
depicted as a single week of human time.
How humanity emerged from brutality.

Stories of the interaction of ancient tribes
and the battles between hunters and farmers.
The realisation of the concept of possessions
and the struggle to protect what is mine.

Such stories were gathered and written down
so being preserved for all time, eternally
later to be taken literally
unfortunately.


A Spiritualised History A Spiritualised History


More recently there came the legends of a warrior people
convinced that their God was on their side
explaining or ignoring their reverses.
This is history spiritualised
by religious explanations.

The land of Israel acts as a conduit between land masses
and thus between the powerful empires on either side.
It could act as an independent buffer state
or its resouces might be plundered, sacked
by the side which held the upper hand.

Its existence depended on the whim of others
which could easily be seen as Godly intervention.
Reverses were explained as the result of sin.
Success came from national repentance.
This was a climate ripe for religion.

The pattern was repeated again and again,
even today, when Israel acts as a buffer
between West and Eastern cultures.

The Effect of Exile The Effect of Exile


Defeat and enslavement in a foreign land
was emphasised by those exiled as leaders.
Whilst common folk worked on, humbly,
unconcerned by the whims of nobility
and the priesthood.

Exile led to a times of introspection
replacing times of liturgical temple ceremony
times to rethink concepts of national identity,
and the role of their supportive divinity;
times maybe of repentance.

Loss of the Temple focus for religion,
led to new writings, new concepts,
a new focus on the written word;
the Law reconstituted.

Prophetic Utterance Prophetic Utterance

Once returned to a settled life,
it seemed important to record prophetic utterance;
the political statements of the priestly hegemony;
the presumed message of divinity for that time.

Why do we treat them as still relevant today,
when more recent prophets are generally ignored?

Christian Additions Christian Additions

The Christians took the Old Testament, much as it stood
and added new elements that told the tale of Jesus,
through stories of his life and death
and letters between Christians.

They all bear the mark of a biassed agenda
and subsequent editing to fit new theology.
We have no certain pedigree for Christ,
nor for the stories told about him.


Christian Composition Christian Composition

Today we have the printed word, differing little between editions
assembled and authorised by the Christian leadership
valued, by some, as the very words of God
taken as literally true in every word
despite its origins and
contradictions.

It is a truly amazing triumph
of desire over reality.