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As an artifact of a period of European history, as a repository of stories and traditions of lost peoples, and as a talisman of authority, the Bible is an object unparalleled. It very clearly originates from a time thousands of years ago, and yet we know almost nothing about its creation. It tells many stories, mundane and fantastic, and it challenges you to believe it all.

Today, the Bible is seen as a lynchpin of civilization, and the wellspring of religious authority. Its position is never questioned, while its contents have been second-guessed for centuries. People have woven from its contents the mythology necessary to propel their faith. Authoritarians have used its words to rationalize acts that injure, maim, and kill others.

But unless you do an intensive study of ancient history, you can’t really read the Bible and understand what the words mean. This is because the culture and political situations were so very foreign and different to us that we have a hard time grasping how it’s different, and how it’s the same. Even for someone who has studied ancient history and ancient languages and ancient religious practices, it’s hard to read the Bible and truly understand not just its words, but its meanings.

Best of all, merely understanding the text and subtext of the Bible is really just a side-quest to the comprehension of another, larger epic political battle that’s raged for ages. There are things about the Bible that we think we know, because it’s what religious leaders and scholars say about it. We’re not just simply wrong, we’ve been deliberately misled.

Let’s start with a simple point of structure. The Bible is presented in two parts: the Old Testament, and the New Testament. If we’re not going to dwell on how “testament” is related to “testes”, then we can at least point out that the Old Testament is not “The Jewish Bible”. While there are texts in the Old Testament that are largely present within the holy writings of the Jews, there are significant omissions and alterations in the Old Testament which render it mostly useless for the studius Jew. This is also a good time to point out that this very formation of the Bible, with Jewish holy texts presented as “Yesterday’s News” in the context of the New Roman Truth, is fundamentally insulting and intentionally anti-Semitic.

Still with me? Ok, consider this: Prior to the invention of moveable type and industrial paper production, books were the exclusive habit of the very wealthy, and each book cost more to produce than what laborers could earn in a year, or even a lifetime. The creation of a book would not have benefited the establishment of a new religion among the illiterate, but it would have created a kind of intellectual clique among the royalty of the ancient world. The people who wrote the books of the New Testament were writing for a very small audience of highly sophisticated, well educated, and rich Romans. Whatever you think you imagine about how the early Bible affected the Roman underclass, you’d likely be wrong.

Prior to the advent of generalized literacy, the Bible was a sacred, treasured artifact with ribbons and gold lame and ornamental bindings that sat open to a random page in the Holy of Holies behind the altar. It said what the priest told you it said, and mostly, no one asked. It represented ancient authority, and that’s all it had to do. It was a badge of office, gifted to bishops upon their advancement and displayed in a corner of the most public room they owned. But never read, never consulted, never discussed, except by an even smaller cadre of niche scholars and crackpots.

Maybe that wasn’t clear enough. Let me try again. Until Martin Luther used the text of the actual Bible to condemn the behavior of the church officials the Bible wasn’t an important element of the development or processes of the church, except as a means to indicate ancient authority.

For another example, the first four books of the New Testament tell distinctly different stories, and a careful comparison will show many places where the four texts simply don’t agree. This goes beyond translation issues: stories about the Christ doing an act in a place will exist in two or three of the books, but with different people, or at different times. In practice, modern believers overlook these differences and create a single narrative from the four books that ends up presenting something else entirely both in the nature of Christ and in the message he brought.

To further hammer upon the New Testament, the Acts of the Apostles, Book of Revelations, and the letters of Paul have been the source of ecumenical disagreements for centuries. The vision and nature of Christ, as presented by Paul, appears to have almost no relationship with the material in the four Gospels or anything in the Jewish holy works. The inclusion of these letters is sometimes seen as a major interjection of material into an existing work. And the psychedelic prophetic visions of Revelation are anacronistic and unrelated culturally to any of the prior material except through some of the more outrageous metaphors.

All of this isn’t to say that the Old Testament isn’t full of problems of its own, or that much of what it claims to be the most ancient works are the most recent. There’s a lot of misdirection in the Old Testament too, all deliberately contrived to convince a specific audience. And it’s a fun rabbit-hole to run around in because it’s bigger on the inside, so I’ll be sure to write about Moses and Solomon and Elijah. No worries!

Today, the target of my determined action is our cultural embrace of Christianity, which was a primary historical vector of anti-Semitism, and the framework for modern authoritarian political structures like fascism. I’m determined to do whatever I can to disabuse folks of the notion that any valid authority comes from Christianity or the Bible, and eliminate Christian frameworks from our political and cultural institutions.


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