Most modern day Christians in America are aware that Jesus Christ was a Jew. They believe he was born in December, and that the crucifix is a holy symbol due to how he died. Many Christians also believe that Jesus was a white man with long hair, and that the Holy Bible is a direct, historical document that gives an accurate account of what happened and when. There are many different interpretations, but if you are attempting to look objectively at Christianity and the Bible, it’s important that you keep a few things in mind.
First and foremost, it’s important to remember that Jesus was an Arab. He was born in the Middle East, likely in the area currently known as Iraq and Iran. Culture would also dictate that he grew a full beard, as he was a Jew, and he likely kep his hair cut short due to the climate of the place he lived in, as well as the fashion of the time. Jesus would have likely spoken Hebrew or Arabic, and his words would have had to be translated to Greek and Latin for the Roman listeners.
All of these facts are important because as Americans we typically have very little understanding of Middle Eatern cultures and social mores. For instance, there is a passage in the Bible where Jesus is speaking to a group of worshipping Jews. As a young man, his place is not to question those above him in society, which he does by engaging in debate with a man older than himself. The other Jews throw him out of the worship place and beat Jesus till he bleeds. By American standards it means that wrong was done to him… by Middle Eastern standards of the time, it means that Jesus won the debate because his opponents resorted to violence rather than words to try and win.
Christianity is filled with problems like this one. For instance, those who claim it is a historic document often haven’t studied how accounts in one section greatly vary from accounts in another section. David, when he first is mentioned, is a marauding thug traveling the countryside with a band of armed men demanding food and sustenance from farmers. Later on when the nation of Israel is looking for great heroes, David’s image is cleaned up and he’s referred to as a great and kind man, despite previous books labeling him as little more than the head of a roving gang. The changes made may make the Bible an accurate roadmap of political climate and cultural changes of the times the books were written, but as a historical document that is meant to keep track of the men in power and who is doing what, it may be faulted.
Additionally, the Bible has been translated so many times and into so many different versions and languages that the sense of many passages may be lost. From Arabic to Latin, Latin to Greek, Greek to German, German to English you tend to lose a lot of the sense the document might have once had. Additionally, languages are the forms of culture, and there aren’t words in some languages for the ideas expressed in others. Also, certain things in the current Bible have been created almost out of whole cloth by the interpreters. There is no mention of a “Rapture” in the Bible for instance, yet the idea of one has become a cultural acceptance by Christians.
The problems with the Bible being accepted as a historical document go on and on as well. The argument of how old the earth is for instance, where all the ages of all the peoples of the Bible were added up, and it only came to a measly few thousand years rather than the billions that scientists suspect. According to “You are Being Lied To,” there was a Roman census taken around the time Jesus was supposed to be making a name for himself as an enemy of the state… yet there’s no record of him anywhere. No official documents of the time, including histories and news accounts, ever mention him existing. Even the idea of crucifixion and resurrection aren’t new, having been a part of dozens of pagan religions from long before Christianity came about.
Now none of this is meant to be taken as a slight to Christianity, or to the good ideals it presents. Peace, hope, love and acceptance are all good things. Spiritual guidance and religious belief are also good for finding meaning and a personal path in life. However, Christianity is a religion based on faith, not fact. The notion that the Bible is a more authentic document then the Koran, the Havamal, the Volsung Saga or any other religious text is one that, when investigated, becomes extremely hard to take seriously.