When I finally accepted that the Bible is a mishmash of different manuscripts from a myriad of unknown authors, pasted together over the centuries, changed and adapted over time to fit different political and religious ideologies, it suddenly became that much more interesting.
Letting go of inerrancy has allowed me to discover facinating facts about the Bible. Some examples: the word Lucifer doesn't refer to Satan at all, but to the star Venus; the diversity of manuscripts continuously presents translational challenges for biblical scholars; and Matthew mistakenly believed that the virgin birth prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 was a prophecy about Jesus.
Another interesting fact that I've recently learnt, and which is probably old news to most Christians and biblical scholars, is that there is evidence that Moses was not the author of the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. This runs counter to what I was taught as a Christian.
John Loftus, author of Why I Became an Atheist, presents a number of reasons to this effect (page 167). The more interesting ones are listed below:
- Deuteronomy 34:6 tells where Moses was buried and states that "to this day no one knows the exact place of his burial." The words "to this day" implies that this line was written some time after his death.
- Genesis 14:14 states that Abraham chased four kings to the city of Dan. This is interesting, as Dan was not the name of that city until the time of Samson (Judges 18:29), three centuries after Moses had died.
- Genesis 36:31 mentions the names of kings in other lands "before there were any kings in Israel". There were no kings of Israel in the time of Moses (Saul would later be the first king). So, as the author, how would Moses know that Israel would one day have kings?
- Exodus 16:35 states that the Israelites ate manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan. Moses was dead before they eventually reached Canaan, so he could not have written this.