Quantcast
Connect with us

Reza Aslan trashes biblical literalism: The gospels are absolutely replete with errors

Published

on

Religious scholar Reza Aslan blasted the idea of “biblical literalism” — the core belief of fundamentalist Christianity — by noting that the Bible was full of contradictions and historical errors.

Aslan said during a February address to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council that people mistakenly believed Christians had always interpreted the Bible as historical fact. The idea of biblical literalism is actually only about a century old, he explained.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I think the best skill that we can learn is how to read the gospels,” he said in video uploaded to YouTube last week. “We come from a world in the 21st century in which we assume that Biblical literalism, the notion that the Bible is literal and inerrant, is just sort of an inherent part of belief in the Bible. It isn’t. The concept of Biblical literalism, in the 2,000 year history of the New Testament, is a little more than 100 years old.”

“Let me just say that one more time: in the 2,000 year history in which the gospels have existed, the idea that what you are reading in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John is literal and inerrant is a little more than 100 years old. It was the result of a very interesting movement, a backlash to Christian liberalism and the Scientific Revolution at the end of the 19th century by a group of American Protestants who began a movement that was launched by a series of tracts that were written called ‘The Fundamentals’ and that is where we get the term ‘fundamentalism’ from. It’s a very new phenomenon.”

Biblical literalism is a poor way to interpret the Bible, Aslan continued, because the holy book is full of contradictions.

“I’ll put it in the simplest way possible: the gospels are absolutely replete with historical errors and with contradictions. The gospel of Matthew says that Jesus was born in 4 B.C. The gospel of Luke says Jesus was born in 6 A.D. That’s ten years difference! Which one was right?”

ADVERTISEMENT

Aslan said the fathers of the early Christian church certainly didn’t read the gospels as a collection of historical facts

“Now, let me ask you a much more important question than which one is right: do you think that the Church fathers who in the 4th century decided to put both Matthew and Luke in the canonized New Testament didn’t bother to read them first? They didn’t notice that they have different dates for Jesus’ birth? They didn’t notice that the gospel of John absolutely contradicts the entire timeline of Matthew, Mark, and Luke? They didn’t notice that there are two completely different genealogies for Jesus in Matthew and Luke? Of course they did! They didn’t care, because at no point did they ever think that what they were reading was literally true.”

Early Christians were more concerned with the spiritual truth revealed by the story of Jesus than the verifiable facts about his life, Aslan explained.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We think that truth and fact mean the same thing. Indeed, science tells us, ‘that which is true is that which can be factually verified.’ But that’s not what the ancient mind thought. They were not as interested in the facts of Jesus’ life as they were in the truth revealed by Jesus’ life. When they constructed these stories about Jesus, and I mean that quite literally, they constructed these stories. If you asked them, ‘Did this really happen?’ they wouldn’t even understand the question. What do you mean did this really happen? You’re missing the point! The point isn’t ‘Are these facts true?’ the point is: what does this story reveal about the nature of who Jesus is.”

Watch video below:

ADVERTISEMENT

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and legal efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. And unlike other news outlets, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from billionaires and corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click to donate by check.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



Report typos and corrections to: [email protected]. Send news tips to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Facebook

Trump’s ‘mind-numbing’ lies are ‘getting worse’ — and even White House aides are ‘baffled’: Morning Joe

Published

on

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough warned the situation inside the White House is "getting worse."

The "Morning Joe" host highlighted President Donald Trump's "abnormal" views on foreign policy in Wednesday's episode, and then walked through the president's frequent flip-flops and the mental gymnastics his supporters must perform to stay loyal -- and Politico reporter Jake Sherman said the situation was exhausting to cover.

Continue Reading

Facebook

Trump dodges and gives an accidentally revealing answer when confronted on his anti-LGBT policies

Published

on

When President Donald Trump was asked Tuesday about whether he supports his administration's anti-LGBT policies — including a new rule that would make it easier for employers to discriminate — he gave what seemed to be an unintentionally revealing answer.

REPORTER: Mr POTUS, your administration has been taking steps to make it easier to discriminate against LGBT people in the workforce. Are you okay with that?

Continue Reading
 

Facebook

‘Not only wrong but crazy’: MSNBC panelists recoil in horror from Trump’s ‘abnormal’ views on foreign policy

Published

on

President Donald Trump made a number of puzzling and bizarre statements Tuesday about U.S. foreign policy, and panelists on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" were aghast.

The president canceled a tip to Denmark after its prime minister refused to entertain his offer to buy Greenland, offered a stunningly vapid assessment of the situation in Kashmir, and reiterated his interest in seeing Russia rejoin the G7.

"You can really understand in retrospect why Gen. (James) Mattis just quit (as defense secretary)," said MSNBC analyst Mike Barnacle. "He had to leave. You cannot be surrounded by such abnormalities coming out of the mouth of the president of the United States on a consistent, daily, multiple-times-a-day basis. We cannot make it normal, but there's a new normalcy when you see the president multiple times a day saying things that are absolutely, not only wrong, but crazy."

Continue Reading
 
 

Thank you for whitelisting Raw Story!

As a special thank you, from now until August 31st, we're offering you a discounted rate of $5.99/month to subscribe and get ad-free access. We're honored to have you as a reader. Thank you. :) —Elias, Membership Coordinator
LEARN MORE
close-link
close-image