• Fundamentalists Can Learn From Ivory Tower Christians

    Last night, I was a guest lecturer at a community college sociology class. The subject was atheism and secular humanism. I started out talking about the beginnings of religion and at one point outlined how the Old Testament came together. One fundamentalist Christian in the class questioned my account and well she should have because it is pretty damning to her fundamentalist beliefs and because I think it is important to question everything.

    I think that it should be noted however that the account of how the Old Testament came together is not something that comes from within atheists circles; it is a historical account from religious scholars. This is a pretty important point because if it came from atheists circles, then it could be written off by believers regardless of whether it were true or not.

    The fact is that religious scholars agree with secular scholars about how the Bible was put together. This information might have been restricted to ivory tower of religious scholarship in the past, but with growing access to the internet it is information that everyone can learn about. Even if a religious believer just wants to learn the basics, there are websites that make this information easy to find, like Wikipedea.

    Google is also our friend. All a fundamentalist Christian has to do is Google, “Old Testament Sources” and they can learn all about JED&P. Then they can move on to the New Testament and learn what pretty much every religious scholar should know, that the Gospels were not written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. We don’t know who wrote them, but it wasn’t those guys. Again, this isn’t something that only atheists are asserting; this comes from the ivory towers of Christianity.

    Admittedly, I can understand why many fundamentalists might not accept the fact that there is no contemporary evidence for a historical Jesus. This is scholarship done mostly by atheist historians and the ivory tower of Christianity hasn’t accepted this fact yet. So for a fundamentalist it can seem like “atheist propaganda.”

    The historicity of Jesus is still an issue of much debate. But JED&P as the source for the Old Testament and the view that the Gospels were not written by the names assigned to them are not in debate. That doesn’t come from atheists and at this point fundamentalists really need to realize that their inerrant holy books are really just books.

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    Category: BibleChristianity


    Article by: Staks Rosch

    Staks Rosch is a writer for the Skeptic Ink Network & Huffington Post, and is also a freelance writer for Publishers Weekly. Currently he serves as the head of the Philadelphia Coalition of Reason and is a stay-at-home dad.


    1. The historicity of Jesus is still an issue of much debate.

      Among whom?

      But JED&P as the source for the Old Testament and the view that the Gospels were not written by the names assigned to them are not in debate.

      Did you read your own Wikipedia link on the DH?

      Since Whybray there has been a proliferation of theories and models regarding the origins of the Torah, many of them radically different from Wellhausen’s model. Thus, to mention some of the major figures from the last decades of the 20th century, H. H. Schmid almost completely eliminated J, allowing only a late Deuteronomical redactor.[46] With the idea of identifiable sources disappearing, the question of dating also changes its terms. Additionally, some scholars have abandoned the Documentary hypothesis entirely in favour of alternative models which see the Pentateuch as the product of a single author, or as the end-point of a process of creation by the entire community. Rolf Rendtorff and Erhard Blum saw the Pentateuch developing from the gradual accretion of small units into larger and larger works, a process which removes both J and E, and, significantly, implied a fragmentary rather than a documentary model for Old Testament origins;[47] and John Van Seters, using a different model, envisaged an ongoing process of supplementation in which later authors modified earlier compositions and changed the focus of the narratives.[48] The most radical contemporary proposal has come from Thomas L. Thompson, who suggests that the final redaction of the Torah occurred as late as the early Hasmonean monarchy.[citation needed]

      While the terminology and insights of the documentary hypothesis—notably its claim that the Pentateuch is the work of many hands and many centuries, and that its final form belongs to the middle of the 1st millennium BC—continue to inform scholarly debate about the origins of the Pentateuch, it no longer dominates that debate as it did for the first two thirds of the 20th century. “The verities enshrined in older introductions [to the subject of the origins of the Pentateuch] have disappeared, and in their place scholars are confronted by competing theories which are discouragingly numerous, exceedingly complex, and often couched in an expository style that is (to quote John van Seter’s description of one seminal work) ‘not for the faint-hearted.'”[51]

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