Interpreting the Bible Just Got More Complicated

The English translation of the recently discovered oldest Latin version of the Gospels may be problematic [for those] who want to read the Bible as a literal history.

  • Drunk by Noon ✓

    Very interesting, thank you!

    • Yes I thought so too. Viewing the Gospels as allegory is something that never would have occurred to me and it may explain their inconsistencies.

      • DMB

        Jesus himself often spoke in parables and used metaphor’s in his teachings making this more consistent with how Jesus himself spoke. Also to take the bible as full literal history would be a misnomer for example the bible says that the Earth is 6.000 years old which we know is not true. My guess is that it is referring to how long recorded human civilization (the time after caveman drawings) rather that the actual age of the Earth itself.

        • Norman_In_New_York

          Certain aspects of the Creation chapter have proven to be consonant with scientific discovery. For example, “Let there be light” is synonymous with the Big Bang.

          • Felix_Culpa

            Yes, but that’s hardly the point. Maybe the earth is 6000 years old, or maybe it isn’t. Who cares? The Bible wasn’t written as a science textbook in the first place. Look at the format of the creation account: God creates light, time, space, and then populates that with fish, birds, animals, and Man. Genesis was aimed at people who worshipped the sun, moon, or animals by showing that God is greater than all of that because he created all of it and controls all of it.

        • Minicapt
  • vwVwwVwv

    I wait till they find an Hebrew
    Gospel from the first century,
    it will be funny I can tell you.

    • Norman_In_New_York

      The Dead Sea Scrolls have shown remarkable fidelity to the standard Hebrew texts of the Old Testament.

  • ntt1

    it is worthwhile to get hold of the Gnostic Gospels, these are the ones “edited out” by pauline followers to redirect the teachings of the Gospels to a more manly direction.

  • Killer Marmot

    Renaissance painters didn’t mind placing anachronisms in their paintings. Note the 1500’s-style bound books in the painting of St. Jerome. The Romans had bound books of a sort, but nothing so sophisticated.

  • Thinking From First Principles

    Did you actually read the article? “It’s not that Fortunatianus thinks that the Bible cannot be read
    literally, it’s just that he is much more interested in its symbolic
    meaning.” A preacher wrote a commentary where he looked to apply the Bible to situations … nothing new there … and he spiritualized the situations … nothing new there either. If the article said that there were significant differences in the Bible text itself, that would be of note. But it does not. It simply says that this particular person wrote a commentary where he expounded upon his symbolic reading of the text … and at that, of the Gospels. It says nothing about falsifying any of the Bible text itself.

    For what it’s worth, my approach to the historicity of the Bible text (Christian and Hebrew) is to start from the most recent events, and then proceed backwards in time. The historical accuracy is most easily verified for the more recent events, and becomes more challenging as we proceed further into the past. There have been many claims of falsification over the years, but none have held up that I am aware of. As best as I am aware, archaeological and historical research has validated all of the records of events that can be validated by those techniques. And certainly, what has been validated far exceeds the number of validatable events that remain in controversy pending further research. The bottom line is simple: the historicity of the text is there when looked at objectively for accessible events, and people should consider that when deciding to accept or reject the records of older events that can’t yet be accessed and validated or falsified by historical and archaeological methods.

    • Felix_Culpa

      Yes, of course!

      That preachers spiritualize the historical sense of Holy Scripture is hardly new and hardly brainsurgery. I get a kick out of how the journalist who suddenly discovered it is quite ignorant of the fact that Christians have been looking at multiple senses of Holy Scripture for pretty much 2000 years.

      St. Augustine famously said, “the New Testament lies hidden in the Old, and the Old is made manifest in the New.” For just one a random example, look at the how the incident of Moses striking the rock at Horeb in Ex 7:6 is handled. St. Paul says “…they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ” (1 Cor 10:4) because Jesus himself said “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink” (Jn 7:37) and to the woman at the well: “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. (Jn 4:10). Jesus himself pulls out that whole rock-water image thing, and so does St. Paul. It was already echoing around in the Old Testament with David talking about “The LORD is my rock and my fortress” (Ps. 18:2) and Ezekiel’s image of water flowing out from under the threshold of the temple (Ez 47:1). It goes all through the New Testament through to Revelation with the water flowing out from the throne of God (Rev 22:1). A huge amount of imagery and typology related to life and baptism and how the spiritual experience of the baptismal water gives spiritual life as physical water gives physical life all in the typological and anagogical and moral senses, but all that riffing-off the historical sense. And a gazillion homilies written over the last 2000 years have done the same.

  • Felix_Culpa

    There’s a link to the online version of this document, which I’m interested in reading. But the fun part of it is that this article is a great example of how mainstream secular media hasn’t got a clue. It’s breathless discovery-of-gravity stuff. It’s “Bible 101” that Holy Scripture contains a variety of literary forms and is meant to be taken in a variety of senses. So no, the Bible didn’t “just” get more complicated. Some ignorant journalist simply discovered it.