Have you ever noticed that there is a breed of atheists who are also Bible scholars and then there are Bible scholars who seem to be atheists?
These non believers are believers in a special sort of way. They do not believe the Bible is the inspired and infallible Word of God, but they do believe their particular theories about the Bible are infallible. When I lived in England I had a bust up with the famous Bible scholar Geza Vermez. I wrote a short and fairly mild review of one of his books for Amazon in which I pointed out some problems with his theory and basically undermined his whole argument. He actually wrote to the editor at Amazon demanding that my unfavorable review be pulled. You can read the review here if you’re interested.
Anyway, the modernist Bible scholars love to get down and pick over the New Testament. They’ve made an industry of it. There’s form criticism and source criticism and literary criticism and historical criticism. In fact, as the Holy Father has pointed out, much of their work has been excellent; it’s been done by serious and professional scholars, and we have learned an enormous amount about the Scriptures and their context as a result.
On the other hand, much of the work has been sketchy. Great theories have been formulated for which there is no real evidence. Books have been written by authors with a particular viewpoint to convey and particular sums to be made in the sale of books–and they’ve learned that if the results are controversial and undermine the faith, well, they sell more books and gain a bigger reputation. Far be it from me to suggest that this might be a motivation for such serious and objective scholars! However, it must be a temptation.
One of the favorite theories of the Bible scholars is that the books of the Bible are not really written by the people we think they’re written by. Instead, they were written much later by someone else and people assigned the names of the apostles to them.
This is where the make believe comes in: on the one hand the atheist Bible scholars say there is no evidence for the historicity of the New Testament. Well, that’s not really true. There is actually an enormous amount of evidence. We have far more ancient manuscripts for the New Testament than for any other ancient writings. Much of what is in the New Testament is also corroborated by other extra Biblical documentary sources, not to mention geographical and archeological sources. What do the scholars do? They make an industry out of picking those sources apart and showing how they can’t possibly be reliable. No one minds good scholarship and a proper critical method. That’s how we discover the truth in these matters–by testing the hypothesis and double checking the sources. However, when this is done with a negative mindset and atheistic assumptions the results will not only be negative, but ridiculous.
So, for example, we have the New Testament critics telling us that the gospels were composed from various sources. Matthew and Luke probably used Mark, but they also used other sources–notably one called ‘Q’. However, nobody has ever come up with any real evidence for ‘Q’. There’s no ancient manuscript which matches it. No ancient documents refer to these other source books. No ancient theologians refer to other source books that existed. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.
Here’s the hilarious thing about it all: the atheist Bible scholars have told us that we can’t trust the New Testament. It’s a collection of stories fabricated by someone, somewhere at some distant place in time but we don’t know who. So my question is, “Who is Q?” Who are these other gospel writers? Where did they live? What faith community did they come from? Where is the evidence that they existed? Where are the ancient manuscripts? Where are the secular historians who refer to them? Where are the ruins of the ancient libraries where their manuscripts were once housed? What creed did they follow and what schools did they attend? What was their link with the apostles? What missionary work did they do? What theologians did they study with? What church controversies were they involved with?
Ancient history of the time is full of events and people. Lots was happening. There were heretics and sects and schisms and councils and popes and bishops and monks and hermits and missionaries and martyrs. There were poets and theologians and scholars writing and debating. But where are these fellows who wrote and edited the gospels and put Matthew, Mark and Luke’s name on them?
Oh, I know, they kept themselves secret because the work they were doing was fraudulent! Uh huh. Now we’re sounding like the conspiracy theorist who, when you point out the lack of evidence of an alien invasion say, “That just goes to show how good the government is at covering things up!!”
So those who demand “EVIDENCE!” from Christians end up believing in theories for which there is absolutely no evidence about the ancient world that has been cooked up in universities in just the last hundred years or so. We’re supposed to rubbish all the ancient evidence we do have and then believe in a modern theory that no one ever dreamed of for 1900 years for which there is no evidence at all.
And they say believers have blind faith?
The mystery still remains. What exactly is “Q”? For that matter who is “Q”?
Oh, I remember! He’s that gadget guy in the James Bond flicks.