The Atheist’s Bible Companion to the New Testament, by Mike Davis
By James Zimmerman
The Atheist’s Bible Companion to the New Testament, by Mike Davis.
©2009, Outskirts Press, 460 pages
If you’ve ever wondered how there can be so many branches of Christianity, with each denomination somehow able to back up its doctrines with scripture, look no further. The Atheist’s Bible Companion to the New Testament breaks down those 27 little books and shows them for what they really are: a collection of ramblings capable of ‘proving’ nearly any theological standpoint a Christian desires to hold. Davis’ bible commentary offers a logical, realistic look at the New Testament – verse by verse.
The book primarily picks apart the irreconcilable accounts in the gospels, as well as the Apostle Paul’s inability to construct a coherent, consistent doctrine. All the familiar contradictions are cited (such as Matthew’s and Luke’s differing genealogies and the disciples’ disagreement on Jesus’ final words), as well as hundreds of others that the casual reader (and devout believer) may not notice.
For example, in Romans 7:18, Paul claims “nothing good dwells within” him. Yet, as Davis points out, the very same Apostle also claimed that Christ lives in him (Galatians 2:20). As another example, the commentary on Galatians 4:4, states: “Paul reminds us that Jesus was born of a woman. But Jesus himself said that no one born of a woman is greater than John the Baptist. (Matthew 11:11) Therefore, Jesus himself was no greater than John the Baptist, and thus could not himself have been divine. And it gets worse: In John 10:8, Jesus declares that all who came before him were ‘thieves and robbers.’” Clearly, then, Jesus must’ve been no better than a thief and a robber.
Readers will enjoy (or be shocked) to discover some of the patterns Davis uncovers in his Commentary, including: John the Baptist, who was supposed to “prepare the way” for Jesus, did an absolutely horrible job. Despite constant claims to the contrary, there are no clear-cut messianic prophecies in the Old Testament that Jesus fulfilled. While Jesus enemies – the Pharisees and Sadducees – understood him, his closest disciples were baffled by nearly everything he said. Jesus purposely spoke cryptically with the express purpose of concealing his true message.
Davis also preempts apologists’ ‘reasoning’ when warranted, such as when he first notes the gospels’ contradictions of the time of day when certain events took place. Davis acknowledges the assertion that such discrepancies are due to differences in Roman and Jewish time-keeping, only to then note that the two time-keeping systems were the same.
Despite the subtitle (A Comprehensive Guide to Christian Bible Contradictions), Davis’ commentary doesn’t just point out the internal hypocrisy. It provides background information, alternative interpretations, religious and secular disputes on the time and place of certain writings and notable highlights from the scriptures. One such example is in the commentary on Matthew 5:39, where Davis tersely observes: “‘Turn the other cheek.’ One of many Jesus maxims that practicing Christians do not follow.” Davis’ objective look at the New Testament is seen in his ability to call attention to consistencies, too, such as when he states (regarding Matthew 6:19): “One of the few consistent points in Jesus’s teaching is his disdain for material wealth.” Davis is even courteous enough to point out when apparent contradictions are likely not contradictions at all. He isn’t above pointing out the implications of such careful readings, either. In his commentary on Romans 3:5-6, he notes: “[The world] is a rigged system, in which man is created too weak to resist sin, and then is condemned for sinning.”
This isn’t, necessarily, a book you would want to read cover-to-cover, and it’s not meant to be. Instead, I suggest keeping it on your shelf next to your favorite version of the Bible. When you need to reference the latter, make sure you grab the former, too. The Atheist’s Bible Companion provides an insightful starting point for responding to apologists, fundamentalists, or any well-meaning Christian.
Bottom line: A.
Visit this site: http://www.atheistsbiblecompanion.com/ to purchase the book.