Wednesday, March 15, 2023

The bible is unnecessary, because...

Like Jesus, I like my collection of pithy quotes. Take for example "Nobody talks about purple polka dotted grass." It's a great statement to remind myself, and those I've discussed it with, that the person I'm referring to has been thinking of what they are discussing. Nobody talks about something that isn't on their mind.

I cannot remember the first time I used that phrase. I certainly cannot recall the comment the person made that led me to creating "purple polka dotted grass".  I'm even more certain that the person I told it to the first time has no clue I had created on the spot for that conversation. Moreover, I have no clue how often I have used the phase or how often others have mentioned it to me. I've even heard people use the phrase when talking to other people who have heard it. Moreover, I've heard people tell people of some of my pithy sayings, sometimes out of context with the original meaning (but nonetheless close enough to apply). It is clear that, even in my lifetime, people are repeating what I have said and applying it to new/similar circumstances.

I was reading the bible today and saw a number of sayings of Jesus prefaced by some situation.  That made me wonder... Was the scenario in the bible the original scenario that generated the saying or was it a later example that is simply similar? Like people twisting my words slightly to fit the new circumstance, did the evangelists of old do the same with what Jesus said? Did they even know what the original scenario or care?  Did they instead, like people around me, apply the pithy saying to a circumstance they felt it related to?

Sometimes, changing the scenario changes the impact or scope of a saying. This made me consider what would happen if I ignored the prefix/scenario and concentrated on the pithy saying alone. Would I be better off simply collecting the pithy sayings without the background story that generates it. It is reasonable to assume the background story presented in the bible could be completely unrelated to the reason Jesus created/used his pithy words. The easy answer is removing context entirely removes useful information.

Having said all of that, my mind is drawn to a Big Bang Theory television episode where it was determined that Indiana Jones was not needed for the outcome of the story, even though he was the main character of the film. Is the work I was doing having an impact on the outcome? Does the bible matter?

Consider the following questions:

Who is Jesus?  Is he:

1. Another word for God
2. The trinity, as in simply another facet of God
3. A distinct, but connected element of a holy trinity
4. Another god... perhaps a lesser god
5. Half god/half human with all the powers of god
6. Born human, but God elevated Jesus to god
7. Born human, but God elevated Jesus to a divine being (less than "god")
8. Human, but God controlled him (like a puppet)
9. Human and God spoke to Jesus, enabling him to perform god-like powers
10. Human and God inspired him, but Jesus had his own will to choose to comply
11. Human who was well informed by others (not God) about what to teach
12. Human with awareness of the sociological and ethical issues and created a solution
13. ?myth? never existed? Everything about Jesus is made up?

Question number 2. Do you believe in salvation by faith alone?

If you answered question one with anything between 1 and 8, and answered question two with a yes, then why should you care what the bible says? Why care about the pithy sayings at all? A god has told you that if you believe in them, you are saved.  What else is there? All the bible stories and commandments matter for nothing because salvation is promised by one able to grant it simply because you believe in them. Throw the bible out and get on with your life. The rest of the bible has no impact on your outcome.

On the other hand, if Jesus existed as a human (9-12) and/or salvation is through good works, then defining "good works" matters. Knowing what Jesus said is the proper behavior matters. Knowing what scenarios need to be associated to which pithy saying matters. Knowing the context matters.

Unfortunately, if my own pithy sayings are misapplied, even in my own lifetime, how can I trust Jesus' sayings would remain sacred and accurate through decades of retelling and centuries of transcriptions. Identifying what he really said and the context he said it in matters more to those who don't fall into the first group. To these followers, the bible matters.

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