Q: I have a friend who says that over the centuries the organized church suppressed what Jesus taught, and that what we have in our Bibles today isn’t the full story about Jesus (or even the right story). I don’t know where he gets this, but is there any truth to it? — J.D.
A: There is not just one unique collection of stories that is called “The Bible”. Different Christian sects recognize slightly different collections of books to be official canon. This applies to both the Old and New Testaments. Official versions (canons) changed over time and those of the major sects (Catholic, Protestant, Greek Orthodox, etc.) were not finalized until the 16th and 17th centuries. There are other writings relevant to the events recounted in the canonical books of the New Testament, usually refereed to as apocrypha . For some reason, early church leaders believed that these books were not divinely inspired and thus not included in the official biblical canon.
Due to the disagreement between different Christian sects, the variability of these canons over time, and the large time gap between the supposed life of Jesus and the churches’ final decisions about the validity of certain biblical books, it is difficult for rational people to take the bible seriously. When other factors such as the unknown authorship of the gospels and the many decades that passed between the supposed death of Jesus and the earliest appearance of the written gospels are considered, the veracity of the bible either as a historical record or as a divinely inspired text is seriously in doubt.
Based on these facts, it is very likely that the stories about Jesus are either myth (total fabrication) or legend (gross exaggeration of true events).
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