How We Got The New Testament

Recycled pictures, new post.

Once upon a time, there was, possibly, a bloke called Yeshua Bar Yosef. Maybe there was, maybe there wasn’t, but either way, a couple of other blokes, one called Simon (or maybe Cephas or maybe Peter), came to believe that Yeshua had returned from the dead and had appeared to them, alive. This was probably all in their heads and what they saw was at most a blinding light, if they saw anything at all. This was certainly the case for a different bloke, Saul (or maybe Paul) who came along later. He wrote about his experiences and admitted they were all in his mind.

This Simon-Peter-Cephas and maybe one or two others convinced themselves that Yeshua was God’s special emissary and would save them from something, somehow or other. They told other people this and, being gullible, some of these other people believed that Simon-Peter-Cephas and his mates really had seen Yeshua alive again. They started to believe Yeshua would save them too. Saul-Paul, meanwhile, wrote letters to the people he’d persuaded to believe in his version of events – it was a bit different from what Simon-Peter-Cephas and co believed – and, writing in Greek, rendered Yeshua as Iesous (‘Jesus’ came much later when the ‘J’ was invented in the 16th century.) Paul thought Iesous was a celestial being he called ‘the Christ’. He taught that this Christ would soon be coming down to the Earth to set up God’s Kingdom here. Even though they were obviously a bit rubbish, Saul-Paul’s letters were copied multiple times by hand, which is when errors began to creep in. In some places, the letters were deliberately altered.

Other people wanted to get in on the act, so they wrote letters too, pretending they were Saul-Paul. Sometimes these letters said the exact opposite of what the real Saul-Paul wrote. His weren’t the only letters to be forged either. Fifty or more years after the entire scam had got underway, someone pretending to be Simon-Peter-Cephas sent letters as if they were from the man himself. Needless to say there were cultists daft enough to believe it. There were others who wrote letters too, people like James and John. James didn’t see eye-to-eye with Saul-Paul and contradicted many of the things he said.

About 40 years after Simon-Peter-Cephas thought he’d seen the dead-but-alive Yeshua-Iesous-Jesus, somebody in a different country decided to write a back story for the character. He didn’t know much about Yeshua-Iesous-Jesus, what he’d said and done and whatnot, but that didn’t deter him. He borrowed bits from Saul-Paul’s letters and Greek myths and set about it. He scoured the Jewish scriptures for anything that sounded like it might be a prediction of Yeshua-Iesous-Jesus and his supposed escape from death. He made up episodes for him based on these completely unrelated scraps of scripture. He forgot to sign his work, however, and it wasn’t until years later that someone else decided this author’s name should be ‘Mark’.

A couple of other anonymous dudes liked what ‘Mark’ had done when inventing his Yeshua-Iesous-Jesus story but thought they could make a better job of it themselves. The first of these, who would later be called Matthew, lifted most of Mark’s effort (which is how we know ‘Matthew’ wasn’t an eye-witness; an eye-witness wouldn’t plagiarise most of the story from someone who wasn’t) and then went overboard with the prediction/prophecy thing that Mark had started. He found even more spurious bits of scripture and made up a whole lot of new stories about Yeshua-Iesous-Jesus from them. Later still, ‘Luke’ wrote his version of the story, using Mark and Matthew’s accounts and inventing a few new episodes himself. This same person went on to write a fabricated history of the Yeshua-Iesous-Jesus cult, making up stories and speeches for caricatures of Simon-Peter-Cephas and Saul-Paul.

The fourth person to try his hands at writing a script for Yeshua-Iesous-Jesus decided to completely reimagine the character. Strictly speaking, this ‘gospel’ was produced not by a single person but by a collective of cult members. Their Jesus was nothing like the one in the other three gospels. He was more a super-hero, whose special power was boasting about himself. This is the Jesus that, 70 years on, the cult wanted to believe in. Eventually, the name John would be attached to this fantasy, though this isn’t the same John who wrote letters nor the one who created the hallucinatory nightmare that would become the final book of the Bible.

These various letters and stories circulated round the Roman Empire wherever members of the new cult met. Eventually, someone hit upon the idea of collecting them together as one volume. The first we hear of this is when a guy called  Marcion produced his own collection, round about AD140. Stupidly, he didn’t include the right ‘books’ and it wasn’t until AD367 that the collection we now know as the New Testament was first mentioned. This was ratified later that century by a group of men who had elevated themselves to positions of authority in the Church, as the cult was now calling itself. Despite claiming they had been guided by the Holy Spirit, these learned men endorsed the inclusion of several forgeries. Neither did they see fit to arrange the books in the order they’d been written, giving the impression that the accounts of Yeshua-Iesous-Jesus’ life existed before Simon-Peter-Cephas and Saul-Paul’s innervisions that had sparked the whole thing in the first place.

Jump forward a few hundred years and the New Testament, as it was now known, had come to be regarded, by some, as the infallible, inerrant and authoritative Word of God, which clearly it is not. These epithets stuck, however, and are still held to be accurate descriptors of the New Testament by people who have stopped thinking for themselves.

So there we have it: how we got the New Testament –

  • It wasn’t written by eye-witnesses.
  • Its accounts of Jesus’ life are largely fictional.
  • It owes much to fanatics who were prone to visions.
  • It is given to wild speculation, offered without a scrap of evidence.
  • It contradicts itself.
  • It includes many fakes and forgeries.
  • It was banged together by men who didn’t really know what they were doing.

And after that, everyone lived delusionally ever after. The End.

27 thoughts on “How We Got The New Testament

    • I’ll let this comment on, Don, as a special one-off treat.

      Actually, it’s the old, old myth, but who am I to quibble. Glad you liked the mocking tone too. It was appropriate, I thought. 

      I appreciated your use of the ‘everybody else’s mother said yes’ line of reasoning.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, Don! Don’t ever change!

      The Book of Mormon was published before the Mormon church was established. It was taken as true by those early believers. And is taken as God’s own truth by millions today. Of course, like the Bible, as some claims are proven false they are taken as metaphorical by more and more Mormons.

      The Quran was written during the life of Muhammad. It was taken as true by those early believers. And is taken as Allah’s own truth by billions today.

      Dianetics was published with the creation of Scientology.

      It’s quite common for the creation/collection of the founding myths of a religion to coincide with the founding of that religion.

      But placing the books of a religion close to the founding doesn’t magically make them True™. The acceptance of books that ended up in the New Testament by early believers doesn’t magically make them written by eye witnesses or negate any of the points made by Neil above.

      If you applied this same argument to Islam, you’d have to accept it as True™ because so many of the early followers believed it to be. You’re a special pleading machine, Don. A special pleading meat machine!

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      • As you probably know, I consider the instruction in the Bible to be primary. It says that if it is not according to the law and the prophets it has no truth in it.

        19 When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? 20 Consult God’s instruction and the testimony of warning. If anyone does not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn. (Isaiah 8:19-20)

        I think that covers Mormonism and Islam.

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      • Of course you do. But all the reasons you have for rejecting the authority and veracity of the Quran and the Book of Mormon are the very same ones we have for rejecting your magic book. Nor can you argue, as you do here, that the Bible’s claims prove the Bible’s claims. This is what we call a tautology, Don. I thought that as a student of literature you’d know that.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Don sez: “As you probably know, I consider the instruction in the Bible to be primary.”

        Yes, Don. This is why I called it “Special Pleading.” Perhaps a better word would be “Hypocrisy.” You treat your special book, and your version of that book’s god differently than all the other books and gods. Things that apply to all the books somehow makes your book True™ and the others false. Things that apply to all the gods somehow makes your god True™ and the others false.

        This is fundamentally dishonest. Realizing I was doing the same with my faith lead me to be more honest with myself in examining my faith and others. That honesty lead to my eventual deconversion. But don’t worry. You don’t have that kind of honesty in you.

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      • Yes, I do treat the Bible differently than all the other books. I don’t apologize for that. It is different. Though other books may have a bit of wisdom and provide a pattern of living that has merit, none matches the word of God. Why do I do so?

        As you say that seems intellectually dishonest.

        But there is a dynamic that you do not understand, and despite your previous faith, do not seem to have ever understood. It is expressed in John 2:20-21. “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth.”

        That probably makes no sense to you, but to those who have that experience, it makes perfect sense because they are experiencing this anointing. To put it in common language, we have a lie detector who is the Holy Spirit of God. If we attend to him, we know when what we are being told is rubbish or truth.

        You examined your prior faith intellectually. If you wished to measure the faith proclaimed in the Bible and demonstrated in the lives of believers throughout the age, that was beginning at the wrong end of the stick. It is not that anyone is to put aside critical thinking to adopt faith. It is that faith precedes critical thinking and informs it because it is guided and affirmed by the Holy Spirit. There is input that comes from the Spirit that is crucial to thinking critically about the faith. Begin at the being of the measuring stick then when you get to the end and apply critical thinking it will make sense.

        That error leads you to think that I, without any warrant, choose to believe the Bible and none of the other books, which you think are equally, well, crazy. That is mistaken, but I understand why you would think so. The fact is that as I have read both the various documents that circulated in the first several centuries and have read the Book of Mormon and The Pearl of Great Price and the Quran I find no spark of life in them. There is no sense that God is speaking through them or that those who have followed them have the spark of life in them. It is all a human endeavor.

        Now, there are plenty of Christians who do not live by the Spirit but according to natural instincts and the way of thinking that is informed by those natural instincts. And that is confusing, especially for those who cannot make out the difference. So, it is easy for someone who has no spiritual compass not to be able to make sense of any of it and to figure Christians are just following a tradition that makes no sense. I am sorry that you did not find someone who was not living that way but rather by the living Spirit within them. Maybe you yet will.

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      • IMO, this is the Christian “fall-back” — It is that faith precedes critical thinking and informs it because it is guided and affirmed by the Holy Spirit.

        The “Holy Spirit” is simply another feeble attempt to validate what a person believes. There is no “Holy Spirit.” It is just one more attempt by believers to diminish the reasoning put before them by non-believers. If it isn’t “the bible told me so,” it’s the “Holy Spirit affirmed it.” Neither of which are worth a grain of salt.

        “Belief” is nothing more than the mental acceptance of and conviction in the validity of something. It is not fact.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Is it? Is reality larger than Nan imagines? Is it enlarged or improved any by the addition of all your spirits, angels and demons? Of course it isn’t; it’s greatly reduced in scale by the addition of such unimaginative fantasy figures.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Don sez: “Blah blah blah Holy Spirit blah. . . ”

        We’ve been over this how many times before, Don?

        Here’s a quick YouTube video featuring people from many different faiths (Christian, Mormon, Islam, Jehovah’s Witnesses, some eastern religions, etc.) testifying to how the Holy Spirit™ or their version of it has witnessed to them of the truthfulness of their religion.

        Again we see your special pleading. Your hypocrisy. Your dishonesty. If a spiritual witness is good for a Christian, it’s good for all the other faiths as well. Either all these faiths are True™, or the witness of the Holy Spirit is just an emotional response we humans do.

        It became clear to me the later is most likely.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Don sez: “You are playing with half a deck, Nan. Reality is larger than you imagine, and saying it isn’t doesn’t change it.”

        I’ve repeatedly asked you to show us this supernatural you claim exists. You hibitually go quiet. Your great arguments for the existence of your god always boil down to “I don’t understand physics/cosmology/probability/etc. therefore God!” Stuff. that proves every creator god ever created as much as it proves yours.

        But don’t feel bad. Every self appointed apologist for Christ (or Allah, or whatever) goes silent at the same request. It’s as though you claim to be able to detect this supernatural thingy buy can’t show other people how to do the same. As the old saying goes, if you can’t show it, you don’t know it.

        Still waiting Don. Show us this amazing, wonderful, god-filled supernatural of yours. I double dog dare you!

        Like

    • Don sez:

      “ That probably makes no sense to you, but to those who have that experience, it makes perfect sense because they are experiencing this anointing. To put it in common language, we have a lie detector who is the Holy Spirit of God. If we attend to him, we know when what we are being told is rubbish or truth. ”

      Oh, Don! you arrogant fool. Raca! I say. Raca!

      EVERY religion has one of these Devine Truth Detectors. Mormons KNOW by the Spirt that Mormonism is True™ and all other Christianities are missing something.

      If you watch the YouTube video “Spiritual Witnesses” I’ve offered you many times, you’ll see people of dozens of faiths testifying to the Spirit that moved them to believe in those faiths.

      If this Spirit thingy is real, then all these religions are True™ and attested to by God’s Spirit. To say otherwise is special pleading – a logical fallacy you commit at every turn which is one reason it’s impossible to take you seriously.

      If you believe (which obviously you do) that your spiritual witness is True™ while everyone else’s is false, please provide a method of telling the Real Spirit from a false one. To be valid, your method cannot contain special pleading or pre-suppose its conclusion. It can’t contain “if it testifies of Christ” or “if it complies with the Bible.” That just dishonest reasoning.

      Your method needs to be reproducible by anyone of any faith or culture and produce consistent results.

      This is your chance to shine Don. Earn that apostle cred to pretend to. Be the first ever to give such a method.

      Until then, it is evident to me that “The Spirit” is an emotional reaction we humans have that others manipulate to “prove“ their positions.

      Like

  1. God works in mysterious ways his wonders to perform.

    Also, when people try to tell me the Bible is ‘history’ or the gospels are ‘biography’ I tell them, no they’re fanfic and religious propaganda.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’d like to apologize for my complete ineptitude in being able to use the correct reply button to get my comments under the intended target comment. I’m new here (after some time lurking), I hope to figure it out eventually.

    Like

  3. Okay, here’s another video. This one by a Mormon. I like it because it’s not just a collection of people talking but explains his thoughts as he examined this “Spirit” phenomenon.

    His journey and reasoning pretty much match my own. Although mine didn’t involve YouTube.

    Like

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