The Bible: complexity and contradiction

Timothy Beal, author of The Rise and Fall of the Bible: the Unexpected History of an Accidental Book, identifies no fewer than six incompatible accounts of creation in the bible (two in Genesis, one in Job, two in the Psalms, one in Proverbs).

He suggests that one more account, no matter how incompatible (evolution), should never have been a problem to anyone who takes the bible seriously on its own terms.

In this article, abbreviated below, he describes how the responses to an earlier piece, including the same material, opened his eyes to the way atheist and fundamentalist argue over a definition of the bible that is anything but rational, and anything but useful.

I recently wrote a short piece for on “Five Things You Didn’t Know” about the Bible. The first of those five things was that there are multiple accounts of creation in the Bible. I expected some people to disagree, and I looked forward to a serious back-and-forth about the texts I had pointed out. That’s not what happened. Instead, I was overwhelmed with a flood of angry responses, most of which were as impious, rude and downright unchristian in tone as they were reactionary and unthinking in their “defense” of the Bible.

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