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Where did the bible come from?

Updated: Mar 16

Got God-questions 07

In a very concise blog post on GotQuestions.org, Michael Houdmann gives us the 3,000 year history of the writing, redaction and composition of the bible: “Over centuries of inspired composition, the people of God received certain texts as Holy Scripture, without manufacturing or mandating them”.

I suppose that finalizes all the biblical scholarship of the past 300 years. Michael simultaneously declares the profession of hundreds of biblical scholars redundant, as all one needs to do is read his scientific dissertation given on GotQuestions.org. As can be expected from authoritarian Christian fundamentalists, the article contains some very vague and lazy assertions without any intent to address the question seriously. Its first nonsensical sentence immediately raises new questions.

What does the author mean by “inspired composition”? Who are “the people of God”? If it is the people of God receiving the texts, does that mean that the people giving them the texts are not people of God? How could the composers of the texts write those texts without manufacturing them? Did they write those texts without writing them? How does that work exactly?

S. Michael Houdmann Like his spiritual guide Jehan Cauvin, this handsome young man supports murder and genocide as the best ways to prevent people from becoming sinners. He simultaneously condemns abortion as sinful. If his god is not the author of confusion, his religion certainly is.

As seems to be the standard, Michael's article is posted anonymously. This is understandable given the apparent lack of knowledge or honesty about the history of the biblical books. The article states that the Pentateuch was written between the 15th and 13th century BC (without being manufactured mind you), which not only flies in the face of most biblical scholars’ research and conclusions, but contradicts its own statement that the Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew. There is no evidence whatsoever that Hebrew was a fully formed separate language within western Semitic before the 10th century BC and certainly not in written form.

On the other end of the chronology, Houdmann pretends that the last book of the Old Testament, the book of Malachi, concluded the formation of the Tanakh in the 5th century BC while simply ignoring that the book of Daniel was only written around 200 BC. It also bypasses the fact that Christianity considered 1 and 2 Maccabees part of the canon, only to be rejected by Protestant denominations starting at the 16th century AD. One does not need to be a genius to recognize that those two books about the Maccabean revolt were not written before 164 BC. The mere fact of rejecting books of the Old Testament in the 16th century is a clear refutation of the statement that the canonization of the Old Testament was a foregone conclusion by the 5th century BC. Being a Calvinist himself, Michael Houdmann is undoubtedly aware of this...but it's easier to lie about the facts than to make them fit your religious construct.

At least he avoids complete embarrassment by refraining from calling Moses the author of the Pentateuch, calling him a source instead. He does admit that ancient editors changed the texts "with linguistic details" and that they added certain sections [ignoring that they may just as well have removed other sections]. Houdmann calls those changes "updates" and assures us that they are not materially substantial and most importantly: that they were still guided by the Holy Spirit. So the Holy Spirit herself told those auditors to change the word of the Holy Spirit? Apparently, the Holy Spirit couldn't convey the correct message from the start. One of many other questions that come to mind, is why the Holy Spirit, being part of the omniscient Christian deity, didn't inspire the authors to already write the word of god in all the languages that are currently spoken around the world. It would have saved humanity a lot of the confusion that god is not the author of. Neither would it have topped the ten plagues of Egypt, or the big flood; but it sure would have been a very impressive feat, giving a bit more credence to all the claims based on this collection of mythological tales.

Addressing each and every aspect of the long history of the bible would take any serious answer considerably longer than what GotQuestions presents here. A mere refutation of some of the very questionable statements in the short article would necessitate volumes of in depth dissertations. Since the author of the article resorts mostly to assertions without evidence, I will simply dismiss them without getting into the details. Granted, Michael does allow for some deviation of the preposterous claim of extreme fundamentalists that the bible is the inerrant and unchanged word of god. But the author is still restricted by the confines of Calvinistic doctrine in which this ministry operates. That allows for very little wiggle room, let alone a serious historical approach to the origins of the bible. This doesn’t only apply to this article but to the whole website. GotQuestions.org very often pops up as the number one search result concerning bible related questions. That is not a result of any serious content. Houdmann's primary expertise seems to be in Search Engine Optimization rather than in biblical scholarship.

According to Mr. Houdmann, the old testament books were not handwritten (= manufactured), but produced using a word processor operated by a ghost or some early form of artificial intelligence, much in the same way that his god wrote the ten commandments in stone with his own intangible finger on April 1, 1447 BCE.

The article concludes with some good advice none the less: “Those same Scriptures are available to you today. Pick up a good translation in your native language and start reading it! You will not regret it.” As it so happens, I have been reading several "good" versions of the bible since childhood and have dedicated a lot of time to the relevant scholarship. I can confirm that I do not regret it as it has given me more than enough knowledge to present my conclusion that GotQuestions.org should change its website header, or at least correct it to make it correspond with reality: GotQuestions: Your questions, bullshit answers.

Patricia Forrester, February 2022


GotQuestions.org, “Where did the Bible come from? How did we get the Bible?”, last update: 04 January 2022, as consulted on 21 January 2022, https://www.gotquestions.org/where-did-the-Bible-come-from.html

As the referenced article does not deem it necessary to back up its claims with any sources, I feel no obligation to do so either. With a minimal amount of reading however, one can find enough information on Wikipedia to refute most of the assertions made in above article.

Or you can visit another Christian website and witness for yourself how Christians cannot agree on anything among themselves. A good example of one sect of Christians countering the assertions of Houdmann (as well as his person) is the unsurprisingly anonymous article: “Judgement of GotQuestions.org”, posted on https://www.thepathoftruth.com/false-teachers/s.michael-houdmann.htm

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