Below, an abridged translation from the third volume of
Karlheinz Deschner’s Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums.
God as the author?
The New Testament is the most printed and (perhaps) most read book of modern times. It has been translated into more languages than any other book. It has been interpreted, says the Catholic Schelkle, with an intensity ‘that surpasses everything. Would not any other book have been exhausted long ago with such exhaustive exegesis?’
Is it possible, apart from its Jewish ancestors, that it offers with some good things so many contradictions, legends, myths; so much secondary transformation and writing work; so many parallels, as shown by the History of the Synoptic Tradition by Bultmann with the tales of universal literature—starting with the old Chinese fictions, through the stories of Indians and gypsies, the tales of the seas of the south to the Germanic legends, with so many inappropriate remarks and nonsense—that many men have taken it so seriously, and many still take seriously?
The New Testament is, not only formally but also in terms of its content, so diverse and contradictory that the concept of a ‘New Testament theology’ became, a long time ago, something more than problematic. In any case, there is no unitary doctrine of the New Testament but great deviations, inconsistencies, notable discrepancies, even in regard to the ‘testimony of Christ’ itself. Only the fact that the Lord is attested gives the whole a highly heterogeneous unity. In view of this, speaking of inspiration or inerrancy leaves speechless even those of us who take it for laughter!
At the Council of Florence (February 4, 1442), the Council of Trent (4th session of April 8, 1546) and Vatican Council I (3rd session on April 24, 1870), the Roman Catholic Church has made the doctrine of the inspiration of the Bible, which carries inerrancy, a dogma of faith. In this last conclave they decreed that ‘the Sacred Scriptures, written by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, have God as author’. Therefore, the ecclesiastical theologians flatly deny the contradictions or even the simple possibility of falsifications in the Bible.
Contradictions and inerrancy, falsification and sanctity, illegitimacy and canonicity, hardly harmonise among themselves. Also, the high moral and religious dignity attributed to the biblical authors, their presumed conscience of the strict truth, is wrongly combined with all that. The ‘authority’ of their books is based and has been based precisely on ‘faithfully reproducing the prophecies about Christ by the prophets and the testimony of Christ by the apostles’ (Von Campenhausen). This is how the apologists have defended and still defend themselves, usually with eloquent words, against accusations of falsification.
Even a scholar not exempt of criticism such as Arnold Meyer, at the end of his article on religious pseudoepigraphy, not precisely in favour of the Churches, avoids the word ‘falsifications’—which I always prefer to the decent babblings of ‘serious’ science—and ‘prefers to speak of an ancient form of the creative literary force, which strives to give again the word to old figures, in a way as real and effective as possible, so that the truth finds today the same as yesterday a dignified voice and a successful defence’.
In fact, the fabrications of Christians—and of Jews—must be judged in a much more rigorous way than those of the pagans. Although the latter possessed sacred books, for example in Orphism or Hermeticism, these books did not have the meaning of a revealed religion. On the other hand, the Jewish and Christian revelations, the doctrines of the prophets and of Jesus, were obligatory; inviolable.
However, the Christians modified the writings of the New Testament and also of the Fathers of the Church, the texts of the ecclesiastical conclaves. In fact, they fabricated totally new treaties in the name of Jesus, of his disciples, of the Fathers of the Church; they falsified full acts of the councils.
It is significant that Norbert Brox (a Catholic theologian!) still calls in 1973 and 1977 ‘uncertain’ the scientific investigation of proto-Christian pseudo-epigraphy. He wrote: ‘All these efforts try to save themselves from the calamity of having to attribute to authors, with proven ethical and religious pretensions, a dubious behaviour in which they do not believe; and they want to delimit, from the whole mass of falsifications, an integral area: religiously motivated and beyond all suspicion’.
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