According to the famous story of Moses on Mount Sinai, God personally wrote the Ten Commandments with his own finger on two tables of stone. I have always wondered why God didn’t use that same strategy for his holy book. Instead he chose to rely on erring men to accomplish such an important task. As a result, scores of sacred texts were written over a period of about 1500 years by various people from at least three different continents claiming to be divinely inspired; except, their work did not all qualify for the big, final production. Apparently, God’s inspiration was not enough to prevent some writers from producing sub standard, questionable work which had to be omitted.
So currently, God’s final handiwork is a copy of several copied copies of lost original manuscripts, consisting of works from anonymous writers, lots of useless passages, and conflicting historical accounts, all designed to confuse us, to ensure that only a few could understand it’s hidden mysteries, and to divide the world into hundreds of competing religious denominations. Meanwhile, it boggles my mind why any devout believer would not be even a bit curious to discover what lies within the pages of those sacred books which never made it to the bible.
Don’t expect any conspiracy theories from me considering the perfunctory nature of my research. But I have had the pleasure of skimming through a couple of those lost books and they certainly make interesting reading. It feels no different from reading the bible, except, every once in a while you come across a few scriptures that cause you to sit up in your chair and raise an eyebrow. This, in fact, is one of the reasons why many books did not qualify for inclusion in the bible – they were thought to be outrageous. For example, in the Infancy Gospels, young Jesus goes about ostentatiously performing all sorts of exciting miracles, and in the Gospel of Thomas, he kills at least three people, two of them being boys who bumped into him. Other books were omitted because the writings were viewed as heretical or in conflict with Christian beliefs at the time. In the Gnostic Gospels and the Gospel of Phillip, in particular, it was mentioned in several places that Jesus had some kind of intimate relationship with Mary Magdalene, causing some scholars to infer that Jesus may have been married and even fathered a child. There were yet other sacred books mentioned by various authors which were lost and never discovered. It was also believed that some books were written too late to be considered, while others were not popular enough or regarded more as history than scripture.
Interestingly, when one goes through the current bible, one can’t help but wonder how some of the passages managed to meet with the approval of the various selection committees. The bible has no shortage of outrageous stories—talking snakes and donkeys, people living inside whales, a boat housing two of every animal species on earth, and David collecting 200 foreskins from penises to give to Saul so that he could marry Saul’s daughter. Many of the books were written centuries after the incidents happened. In addition, there are the boring, meaningless genealogies, prose which serve no purpose, and lots of stories about rape, the suppression of women, slavery, and senseless violence. Yet, those “remarkable” books were considered authoritative and earned their way into the bible.
I am no better at history than I am at science; however, even after a brief study of the history of the bible, there are certain speculations and assumptions which one can safely make. We can assume that if the bible were indeed inspired by God, he deliberately planned it in such a way that some of his work would be lost, and that there would be much irrelevant information, confusion, human error, and fake authors – all that to make life more difficult for his beloved children. We know that the decision to determine which books were authoritative was a human decision and not divine. We know that the church was split on some very important doctrines, such as whether Jesus was indeed God or another prophet, and that God left it up to them to argue about and to decide. We know that paganism infiltrated Christianity from the start, and modern versions and translations of the bible are different in some ways from the early bibles. We know that there must be information in those omitted books, or those which were never found, that are relevant and would contribute to a better understanding of Jesus, his life and Christianity. And we know that when people tell and retell stories, the accuracy of the story progressively deteriorates. People add, subtract, and embellish to impress their audience, to promote and protect their agendas, or to be politically correct. How often do you hear someone say in a eulogy, “He was a selfish, conceited, callous, philandering idiot”?
The veracity or inerrancy of the bible, which science and archaeology have often challenged, is not my major concern. What puzzles me is how a perfect, omniscient God, who is not the author of confusion, could be remotely associated with such a mess.