by Prof. R. P. Oliver

May 1986

If you like to collect odd books, you may look forward to acquiring a real curio, a polychrome "New Testament." According to "Christian News,"a consortium of "Bible scholars" is now going through the five hundred or so statements attributed to Jesus ben Yahweh and deciding, in the democratic way, by majority vote, which are authentic, which may perhaps be genuine, and which are just poppycock. They will then bring out an edition in which the certainly genuine remarks will be printed in red, the ones that may be authentic will be printed in pink, the ones that are probably spurious will be in grey, and the ones that are certainly drivel will be in a funeral black. What they will do with the narrative text in which the Jesus-talk is embedded is not stated, but I hope they will use orange ink for the parts they think plausible and blue for the tales they cannot stomach. That will leave lavender for whatever is in between, and the folio heads, chapter numbers, and page numbers could be in green. A lucky firm of printers somewhere will have an opportunity to create a "chef d'oeuvre."

Since the tales the holy men are winnowing are the only evidence their Jesus ever existed, one wonders how they are going to decide what he did and did not say. It's true that he contradicts himself many times, but he may have changed his mind or have been merely confused. Perhaps the Holy Ghost will be on hand to help the majority of the committee discriminate between the grain and the chaff. Some Protestants assert that the Holy Ghost was buzzing around when the translation of the Bible was made for King James, and that he thus guaranteed the authenticity of every jot and tittle in it, but, of course, he may have changed his mind, too.

The Church of Norway's Information Service has reported the findings of a "public opinion poll," according to which 84% of Norwegians own a copy of the Bible, but 63% of the total population never read the holy book. Since 7% claim to "read the Bible" daily, what is meant must be the reading of some chapter or snippet, not the whole collection of tales, and the rest of the 37% of the pious Christians read some chapters or passages in the course of a year. Now what is interesting is that although 63% of Norwegians show so little interest in holy fiction that the Church is said to be alarmed, only 13% stated that they did not believe the Biblical yarns. The rational 13% presumably included the 10% of Norwegians who said they were "opposed to the Biblical view of life," which probably means that as Nordics they perceived that the basically Oriental superstition was inimical to the weal of their own race. We must assume that the rest of the 63% who don't read the Jew Book assume that the tales in it are historical truth because they have never thought about it, and it is quite possible that many of them never read enough of the fiction to have their credulity overstrained. They are, so to speak, passive Christians, like their counterparts in the United States. They are an inert mass and doubtless make possible the manipulation of the nation by the vendors of humanitarian hokum. It is at least encouraging that ten percent of the Norwegians are still spiritually as well as physically Nordic. On them depends whatever future their nation may have.