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The tantalizing mysteries of antiquity

By February 3, 2011culture

I've been enjoying listening to the Audible audiobook version of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years. And since the audio file is over 40 hours long, I'll be enjoying it for quite awhile.

I'm now past the birth and death of Jesus, and all the way into the 2nd Century CE. I was supposedly raised Catholic, but was not as fervent in following the edicts of that church as its leaders might hope. So I'm really appreciating the chance to finally get a clearer sense of what actually happened way back when Jesus was preaching to his followers. Of course, it's impossible to get a completely accurate historical picture of many events, but the author does an admirable job of laying out the facts as best we can ascertain them.

As someone who works in a profession where the limits of truth are constantly evident, I'm fascinated with how much distortion has taken place as regards the whole Jesus thing. Notice I didn't say I was surprised.

All people are limited in their ability to perceive things, and in their ability to detect their own biases. People who belong to organized religion aren't immune from this tendency; usually, they intensify it. But people who disparage organized religion (as I often have) also have their biases, and tendencies to recast events in a way that serves their purposes.

As I said, I find the Christianity book very enlightening. It's like watching the world's longest (and most influential) game of telephone (also known as chinese whispers). Obviously, it's okay to believe that the Bible is the literal word of God (if it's not then 70% of Americans have a serious problem). But, still, it wouldn't hurt to know how the Bible was compiled in the mundane historical sense. And it wouldn't hurt to know how—during the course of history—well-meaning men have purposefully shaped the contents of the Bible.

I'm sure many people would argue with me on that point. God bless them. And I apologize in advance for any turmoil and anxiety I might have introduced into their lives. For what it's worth, I don't claim that there is no God. I don't claim that there is. I try to steer clear of foisting spiritual views on people. The historical record suggests this tends to lead to bloodshed.

Anyway, If you're interested in the mysteries of antiquity then perhaps you'd be interested in this National Geographic special Naked Science: The Book that Can't be Read. Seems that there this thing called the Voynich manuscript that was supposedly written in the 15th or 16th Century. Except that maybe it was written a lot earlier than that. And, the weird thing is that no one has been able to decipher it.

Frankly, I'd be more inclined to believe that the Voynich manuscript was written by God than the Bible. I don't think that 70% of Americans or any other people on this planet would be able to understand the true word of God. If they did then I doubt they would be so violent and prone to deep ignorance.

The National Geographic special is on tonight at 8 pm (not sure if that's EST or CST). Tune in. Maybe you'll learn something interesting.


P.S. If you appreciate my observations, you might want to check this out.
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