The first thing that becomes apparent when reading the new testament, is how deeply embedded within our culture the words and phrases of it are. Virtually the entire culture of Europe was based on this book for centuries, and it permeates it still. Our legal system, our holidays, our morality, all have their roots in this collection of writings.
I don't expect that anything I write will change many people's opinion of the bible. Believers are often not open to appeals of reason because they have been convinced that reason is subordinate to faith. For non believers though I think many will find interesting some of the lesser known passages of the bible.
I should also declare my status as a firm agnostic, someone who believes that the reason there is so much debate about religions is because we are not in a position to know. There are good passages in the bible, but if you intend to make a book the foundations of morality and culture to the exclusion of all other wisdom, then it has to be held to the highest possible standard. In my reading of the new testament, it fell well below my idea of what divinity should be.
A vengeful god
Is the christian god a god of love? Was Jesus a man of peace? Well heres what Jesus had to say on the matter :
Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. Matthew 10:34
Of course he was probably talking metaphorically, perhaps he really brought a mace? Anyway he seems from the new testament quite spiteful, for instance when the fig tree gets on his bad side for having the audacity to not be bearing fruit when Jesus wanted some.
Early in the morning, he was on his way to the city, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, "May you never bear fruit again!" Immediately the tree withered. Matthew 21:18
Of course, why Jesus needs to get fruit from a tree when he displays his ability to make food out of nothing a number of times is the question. For instance he makes barrels of wine out of nothing, not only showing he could make fruit out of nothing, but crush it and ferment it for a while.
What happens to Judas makes it look like the fig tree got away lightly :
With the reward he got for his wickedness Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong. his body burst open and all his intenstines spilled out Acts 1:18-19
Of course we can choose to believe that god did this or what is more likely is that it was the followers of Jesus after they found out what Judas had done.
This wouldn't be the only spiteful act of the church (oh sorry God) immediately after Jesus's death. There also seems to be a subtext of things familiar to anyone interested in modern day cults, that of giving all of ones possessions to the leaders of the cult. The difference between cults of today, and the early Christian church seems to be the difference in what happens to you if you hold back money from the leaders of the sect...of special note in this passage is the compassion shown in breaking the news of the womans husbands death to her.
Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife's full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but bought the rest and put it at the apostles' feet. Then Peter said, 'Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart....you have not lied to men, but to God' When Annanias heard this, he fell down and died....About three hours later his wife came in not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, 'Tell me is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?'. 'Yes,' she said, 'that is the price'. Peter said to her, 'How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.' At that moment she fell down and died....Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events. Acts 5:34
Yes, "fell down and died", just like Judas's body "burst open" and was strewn across a field. I'm sure the congregations new found state of fear was very useful in making sure they didn't hold back any of their money afterwards.
Here one of the disciples threatens the believers that he is about to visit. Various dictators will be pleased to have confirmation that the kingdom of god is about power, not words.
Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you. But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a whip, or in love and with a gentle spirit? Corinthians 4:18-21
I had held the belief that Jesus and his disciples were a bunch of nice guys who went around healing people. In fact they seem very conscious of the need to control their followers and exact tribute from them. This has been an enduring legacy for the church.
The day of judgement is near
One of the most interesting things about Christianity is how every generation thinks that they are living in the last days and that Judgement Day is at hand. I doubt a month goes past that some sect somewhere doesn't believe Armageddon is coming, perhaps so their followers don't need to worry about all the money they have been conned out of. This is no new phenomenon, because two thousand years ago Jesus and his disciples repeatedly say that Judgement Day is going to come soon, really soon.
Before we look at that though, it would be inconsistent of the bible to be consistent. Even though, as you will see, Jesus specifically says when judgement day is coming, here it says he doesn't know, presumably because God doesn't trust him to keep it to himself.
No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels, nor the Son, but only the Father. Matthew 24:36
On with the Armageddon is going to happen soon quotes in the Bible :
For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then will reward each person according to what he has done. I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom. Matthew 16:27-28
..what will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?...'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.' At that time the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn....I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until these things have happened. Matthew 24:3-34
There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.....I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Luke 21:25-28
So time and time again the followers of Jesus are told the end is nigh, and that they will see it in their lifetime. And the disciples go on to tell everyone else that these are the last days.
this is the last hour; and as you have heard the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. John 2:18
Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you.... You have hoarded wealth in the last days. James 5
I'm sure the disciples would have forgiven the rich if only they had obediently given their wealth to the church. Just to make it absolutely clear that Jesus is coming soon, in the bizarre book of revelations that inspired David Koresh in Waco and a bunch of other nuts, in amongst the beasts covered in eyes singing about the glory of god, the channeled Jesus says plainly :
Behold, I am coming soon! Revelations 22:12
I wonder how many times have these lines been used to scare people over the last two thousand years?
Jesus hassling people
Jesus had an interesting way of dealing with people. For instance, in your next round of Christmas cards, greet friends and family with these words of wisdom :
You are my friends if you do what I command John 15:14
So that was the basic philosophy of Jesus, you are mere mortals whom I have to put up with, and the best you can hope for in this life is to do what I say.
Here, Jesus is telling the disciples not to tell anyone he is the Christ, which seems strange to begin with. He tells his disciples that he is going to be killed, and then on the third day raised to life. Immediately after Jesus says this Peter rebukes Jesus saying "Never Lord...This shall never happen to you". Jesus turns to Peter and thanks him for being concerned about his impending death by saying "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me" Mathew 16:22-23.
A man comes up to Jesus and tries to get him to heal his son, because "He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water". Christ, understandably filled with compassion, replies "O unbelieving and perverse generation..how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you?"Matthew 17:15-18.
To any modern mind seizures which cause one to fall are an obvious case of epilepsy, but to the ancient mind this is a case of demon possession and therefore that is what Christ heals, he rebukes the demon and the boy is healed. He drives a few demons out at other times, some he transfers into some nearby farm animals who all then go and kill themselves which is apparently a real triumph. Perhaps it would seem convincing to someone following Christ to come across someone in the throes of a seizure, and for Christ to place his hands on the person and the seizure ends after a short time. Of course we know that epileptic seizures often end after a short time, but to simple people two thousand years ago, it might have seemed proof of the divinity Jesus claimed.
Some of the worst slurs in the bible are reserved for tax collectors and pagans. Then later there is a part where Jesus has dinner with tax collectors, which people question him about, fair enough given his earlier statements. His come back is to say he has come to save sinners, so that is who he is having dinner with. Of course if we then remember another of Jesus's quotes "if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector"Matthew 18:17, it logically follows that if someone refuses to listen to the church, one should have dinner with them. Whilst I think this is excellent advice, I did not expect to find it in the bible.
Sadism and mashochism
There are a lot of really weird bits in the bible, like this encouragement to self mutilation :
"If your hand or foot cause you to sin, cut it off and throw it away...If your eye causes you to sin gouge it out and throw it away"Matthew 18:8-9
The difficulty here would be deciding which hand had caused you to sin the most, in order that it deserved to be cut off first. Presumably once you have decided, you should also at least keep one hand attached or you could rather embarrassingly cut off both your hands and be left with a terribly sinful foot that you can't do anything about.
Of course cutting of your feet may have been one way of getting out of going anywhere with Paul, who extracted a high price for his company :
Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumsised him Matthew 10:34
And finally one of the disciples wishes people who disagree with him about circumcision would chop their penises off :
As for these agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves. Galatians 5:12
Believe in magic powers
Now Jesus had magic powers. But they weren't unique son-of-god type magic powers, no they were available to every person who believed. So where are the Christians moving mountains today, or do they lack true faith?
I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. Matthew 17:20
Jesus also lets them know that if they do what he tells them to, they too can kill fig trees :
I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain. 'Go, throw yourself into the sea.' and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer. Matthew 21:21
"whatever you ask for".....so testing whether the Christian god is real should be as simple as asking a believer to do something we consider impossible. Thus far the magician''s magic trick, and miracles of religion, both have the same staged quality about them. Why heal one person, when according to the next passage you could ask for an end to all sickness in the world :
If two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them. Matthew 18:19-20
Now you may think that the answer to this would be that god didn't wish to use miracles as a way of people having faith in him. You would only think this if you hadn't read quotes like the following in the bible :
...at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these... John 10:11-12
So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders. Acts 14:3
So these people were told about God, but they weren't expected to just believe blindly like we are expected to. God did miracles so as to prove that those speaking for him were the real deal. Why is it that people of the modern world aren't given such opportunities to see miracles to confirm the existence of god, under rigorous, repeatable, scientifically testable conditions?
Do as we say, that is basically what most religions are about, and the bible is no exception. Follow Jesus, don't think for yourself because we have got your life all worked out for you. Of course the early church didn't want any conflict with the people in power, Jesus himself said he had only come to convert Jews, which would have sat well with the ruling Romans who had their own religion. In keeping with his strict adherence to his word he then converted a non Jew, however she was not a Roman so it did little to worry the powerful, it was only after he found out he was to be put to death that he told the other disciples to start converting anyone, ie the Romans.
Here is the early church, teaching submission to all governing authorities no matter how wicked and cruel :
Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities which exist have been established by God...Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment to the wrongdoer. Romans 13:1-4
The heart of this is of course the divine right of kings, that God has chosen the rulers, has looked favourably upon them and not on you, therefore they are your superiors in god's eyes and you should do what they say.
Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governers, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. Peter 2:13
Vlad the Impaler, Genghis Khan, Adolf Hitler and Atilla the Hun were all obviously doing god's work, punishing the wicked and rewarding the righteous.
As for slavery, thats all fine too. As with governments, slave masters have been given this position by god because of their great morality.
Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Ephesians 6:5-6
Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything Colossians 3:22
These sorts of passages about obedience to power shall be submitted as evidence of motive.
Divorce and marriage
Divorce was the topic of much debate within the church, and for years was a sin but today is generally accepted. The bible seems completely clear on the matter, and that is that divorce is wrong.
I tell you that anyone that divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery. Matthew 5:32
They asked "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?....I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery". Matthew 19:3-9
So how is it that divorce has come to be accepted by so many in the church? There is much in the bible that specifically tells people what to do, and Christians don't follow it, they pick and choose. They are happy to persecute homosexuals and deny them basic human rights like marriage because of one part of the bible, but then ignore other parts which are stated just as plainly and forcefully, such as women always covering their heads.
Of course why divorce a wife when you could just procure more? The advice the bible gives on the matter is to stick with one wife if one is to be a deacon, which presumably means the rest of us are free to do as we please.
A deacon must be the husband of but one wife... Timothy 3:12
We will talk more about marriage when we get to the status of women.
Torture is OK
One of the great flaws in human thinking is that certain acts which we would think the height of injustice when applied to ourselves, are permissible when applied to others. We would think that torture is one of the diseases only of the human mind, however here Jesus takes great pains to explain that God will righteously torture all those who don't believe in him.
Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began settlement, a man who owed him ten thousands talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay his debt. The servant fell on his knees before him 'Be patient with me', he begged, 'and I will pay back everything'. The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded. His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back'. But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you??' In anger the master turned him over to the gaolers to be tortured, until he could pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from the heart. Matthew 18:23-35
Yes he will torture all us sinners, and take care not to make him angry :
The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hyprocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 24:50-51
Gnashing of the teeth is big in the bible, personally I don't think it's sound dental advice. Anyway it will be a long dark night for unbelievers on judgement day, we are all going to have the crap tortured out of us. So we better be scared, convert to their religion and start handing over the money now.
They were told not to harm..any plant...but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their forehead. They were not given the power to kill them, but only to torture them for 5 months. ... During those days men will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them. Revelations 9:4-6
So if the bible is this infalible work inspired by god, why does it say that stars will fall from the sky, or that the moon gives light? Surely someone who created the cosmos would have a reasonable idea of its workings?
'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.' Matthew 24:29
Possessions and wealth are a sin
Now here they talk about sharing everything, there are a few bits like this in the bible, direct assaults on the prevailing material capitalist culture of our society, which is of course currently lead by people who are Christians.
No one claimed any of his possessions as his own, but they shared everything they had Acts 4:33
And the selfish rich, read here much of the western world, are in big trouble. Parts of the following quote could be lifted from a Socialist Worker pamphlet.
Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. James 5
Rome of course was a city laden with wealth at the time it became the launch pad for Christianity, and as someone once said, it was easier to Roman-ise Christianity than to Christian-ise rome.
Intelligence subordinate to belief
Bertrand Russell said he couldn't find one word in the bible in praise of intelligence. He should have added that the bible is in many places quite hostile to wisdom and intelligence :
For it is written "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate." Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?..For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom Corinthians 1:18-25
The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile Corinthians 3:20
Interesting here is that the church doesn't seem to have been getting the brightest converts, as this disciple acknowledges when speaking to them :
Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise Corinthians 1:26
Long hair evil
I had long hair for many years, infrequently people even called me Jesus because of it, though I didn't seem to get any money out of it. Jesus is always depicted as having long blonde or light brown, hair. He is also always white with blue eyes. Now Jesus was in fact from the heart of the Arab world, he no doubt had dark hair and brown eyes. If he were born today he would be considered a Palestinian, perhaps throwing stones at his oppressor in a very different battle with the Jewish heirarchy. Anyway given what the disciples say here, along with the other fallacies about how Jesus looked, it is very much in doubt that Jesus had long hair :
if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him Corinthians 11:14
OK so I have heard it said that Jesus only ever ate fish in the bible. Jesus also doesn't say anything else on the matter of what flesh people are allowed to eat, though as with much that is dubious in the bible, the disciples have plenty to say :
He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God, and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. Romans 14:6
Nightclubs are often referred to as meat markets, I wonder if this quote had anything to do with this :
Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience. Corinthians 10:25
Of course one would expect that as a vegan I don't really understand the bible, because my faith is weak...
...another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. Romans 14:2
Women beneath men
OK so how does the bible refer to women. It is very clear, women are subordinate to men. The go on about it a bit, now if this is so self evident, why do they need to keep restating it?
The head of every man is Christ, and the head of every woman is man Corinthians 11:3
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Ephesians 5:22-24
It often says that husbands should love their wives. So long as they are obedient they are to be treated well, though it is not as helpful as the Holy Koran in advising us on a course of action when a woman forgets her proper submissive pose. Children of course are even lower, this is the only real mention of their status in the heirarchy.
Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Colossians 3:18-20
Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner... Peter 3:7
And they should be submissive not only in obedience, but what they wear as well. The last part of this plainly states that a woman dressing up on her wedding day in church is an affront to God :
I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes... Timothy 2:9
More hassling of hair...
If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off...A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God....man was not created for woman, but woman for man. For this reason...the woman should have a sign of authority over her head. Corinthians 11:6-10
More drivel on the heirarchy, and how women are weaker and only bearing children gives women any status at all...
A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a women to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing... Timothy 2:10-15
Of course for all their bearing of burdens and being obedient, they won't be one of the 144,000 that many Christians believe will be the total number allowed in heaven at the end anyway. This seems a bit more of a sticking point since the early church dropped the idea of reincarnation, and therefore the christian woman lost the buddhist womans hope of dying and being reborn a man, so they can then ascend to heaven. Indeed women are so low that even someone who has slept with a woman has wrecked his chances of eternal bliss :
No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. Revelations 14:3-4
Might I add as appealing as is the thought of eternity singing songs with some big male choir full of virgins, I think I'll stay with the defilement.
As for women priests, it seems pretty clear what the bible has to say on this :
As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. Corinthians 14:33-35
So what happened at Jesus's death. For a start it does seem to mention a crucifix, but then in the later books of the bible it refers a number of times to Jesus being killed on a tree
Perhaps this is why the crucifix didn't become the symbol of christianity until many centuries after Jesus's death. How different Christianity's effect on the world might have been if their symbol was a tree?
They killed him by hanging him on a tree. Acts 10:39
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree. Peter 2:24
This reference to hanging from a tree was once familiar to his followers in the South of the USA.
Peter and the apostles replied:...The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead-whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. Acts 5:29-30
And of course the weird bit, where Jesus, omnipotent Jesus, can't save himself from being crucified. Jesus, like so many other suffering believers throughout the centuries, looks vainly to the sky and cries "My god, my god, why have you forsaken me?".
And at the ninth hour, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachtanian?" - which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Mark 15:34
Of course we all know that god did not forsake Jesus, he would have to exist to do that.
Finally on to the resurrection.
In the gospel of Mark as it was originally written nobody actually sees Jesus arisen. The earliest biblical versions simply ends with a figure robed in white telling Mary Magdalene and two other women who had come to dress Jesus' body that Jesus has arisen. What has been added later is that he made a number of appearances to the disciples and then was "taken up into heaven".
It is amazing that these sort of editorial liberties have been taken with scriptures supposedly written by disciples. One wonders what else has been added that we aren't aware of.
Going onto Luke, it is not "a young man in a white robe" in the tomb, but "two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning", we can see how layers are added to the story, slowly becoming more miraculous and no doubt further away from the truth. It is common to many religious figures that fantastical stories arise about their birth and death. Exaggeration makes the stories more interesting, it is probably exponentially so when they are trying to convince you of the almightiness and power of their chosen prophet. Matthew 16:9-20 Luke 24:3
But did Jesus even really die? This was in a time when the line between life and death was even more unclear than it is now. Perhaps if Paul had predicted his own resurrection, we might have had another easter weekened :
They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. Acts 14:19-20
Pontius Pilate was surprised at how quickly Jesus appeared to have died, especially interesting if he is hung from a tree and not nailed to a cross. Perhaps he had just fainted or become unconscious and they didn't know any better, anymore than they knew epilepsy from demon possession.
Joseph of Arimathea...went boldy to Pilate and asked for Jesus' body. Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Mark 15:43-44
And Jesus's body was treated with a mixture including aloe vera, which we know today has some healing properties. He was then left alone in a tomb, not buried or cremated, from which he was gone in the morning. Some Gospels adding a big stone in front of the door to add a nice Harry Houdini touch, which apparently only a messiah could move.
He then appears to his followers a varying (started from zero) number of times, and then ascends to heaven. Or did he just survive the Roman punishment of crucifixion, as many did, and awaken to find himself in his own tomb? He then says goodbye to his friends and leaves for good, which would seem a reasonable move in a place where mobs of people wanted to kill you for being a heretic. If the resurrection stories are at all based on truth this is probably what happened, and thus we come to then end of Jesus's life, his physical presence walks out of history.
The New Testament says a lot of contradictory things. Yes it has all the negative stuff I have shown, but it does have some really cool things, about peace, love, helping those less fortunate than yourself and anti materialism. I could have written about that, but the bible is too important a book to gloss over its many flaws. It is not offering advice, it is commanding a complete way of thought. What is wrong with it is far more fundamental than what is right, it teaches submission, intolerance, ignorance and defends the right of the powerful to rule. Given these deep and irredeemable flaws, the power of the Bible is deeply troubling.
"all the complex and horrendous questions confronting us at home and worldwide have their answer in a single book-the Bible" - Ronald Reagan
There is no book with all the answers, whether written by Karl Marx, Adam Smith, the disciples or anyone else. We should use our own intelligence to make decisions, our own experiences in understanding the meaning of our lives and we should guard our thoughts from the dominion of others. Consciousness is too precious a thing to waste.