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Stephen Mason Ph.D.

It's in the Bible ... Isn't It?

How Much Do You Really Know About the Good Book?

Last month, I wrote a column based on a documentary DVD titled: "The God Who Wasn't There." In a nutshell, it questions the existence of a historic Jesus Christ. I don't know if there ever was such a person but, then again, does it really matter?

Look at Buddhism. Like Christianity, it has now split into numerous sects though no one can be sure about its titular head - Buddha. Was he a real person? Supposedly his friends called him Siddhartha and he died from either a mesenteric infarction or a bad truffle. But maybe he never lived. This was, after all, a couple of thousand years ago. Anyway, while Buddhists are happy enough with the message, Christians seem to need a body. Why this should be so, I don't know.

Suffice it say that, in responding to my column, a few readers were quick to tell me that there must have been a living, breathing Jesus Christ at one time because all those believers couldn't be wrong. Alas, that argument carries no weight at all. People believe all sorts of things from a 911 conspiracy to a miracle at Fatima. And then there were those who told me about what the Bible said.

As it happens, I'm one of the few people who actually appears to have read the Bible. As an undergraduate, it was part of a Literary Masterpieces class. When I asked why it had ever been included, the professor said that, being bound in Western tradition, it was just naturally part of the intellectual baggage one would associate with an educated gentleman. I couldn't very well disagree and, having read the Bible, I do occasionally get a JEOPARDY question that I would otherwise have missed. But do I think this tome is really the work of a supernatural being? Hardly.

First of all, it's a translation of a translation of a translation.... You get the idea. Not that many people read Aramaic anymore. And even at that, word definitions change over time. Look at Shakespeare saying "Get thee to a nunnery" and meaning a brothel. Then too, there are so many versions of the Bible, which one is the true one and why would the words of a God providing a manual for life need to be interpreted by an intermediary priest class?

Second of all, it's full of contradictions, mythology and history are confused, and it's racist and misogynistic. Bits and pieces, clearly removed from any supporting context, are written by different people at different times and why any self-respecting woman would sit still for a good portion of it I can't imagine.

But don't take my word for any of this. Instead, let's see if you can answer half a dozen questions taken from the King James Bible:

1) What is the last of the Ten Commandments?
By way of a clue, it's got nothing to do with having eyes for your neighbor's wife.
2) What is God's name?
Next time someone mentions God, ask which one? Chances are they won't know.
3) What happens if you are not a virgin on your wedding night?
So much for Sex in the City.
4) According to the Bible, who created evil?
Hint: Leave Eve out of it...ditto Satan
5) How many human generations were there before Jesus?
This assumes there was a Jesus and that he was born 2000 years ago.
6) How should Christians treat their parents?
Here's a family values lesson direct from the top.

The answers are at the end but if you want to see the complete test with fifty questions that you can use to amaze and fool your friends, go to:


1) Don't boil a young goat in the milk of its mother.
Don't believe me? Then check out Exodus 34:26
2) Jealous
"...the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God." This too is in Exodus.
3) You will be stoned to death.
This is still the rule among Moslems who share the teachings of the Hebrew Bible.
4) Surprise! Surprise! It was God!
"I make peace and create evil" Isaiah 45:7
5) Sixty-two generations.
Even a caveman should know it's closer to 5000.
6) Parents should be hated.
Could both Luke & Matthew have gotten it wrong do you suppose?