Good question...

...was the bible created by authorities to 'control' the common folk?

[created 3/18/97]
A high-school student wrote in, asking for my advice on how to approach someone...

I, however, am not a well educated Christian scholar and I have been challenged by a very dangerously learned agnostic who has made a claim that I have never heard before. He has suggested that the Old Testament was written in order to keep control over people using a god to claim authority.

First, ask him to prove it! Ask him to give you some evidence! There is no evidence...only speculation...If he gives you some more theory, ask for historical evidence! Ask for something from archeology or history, not just a speculative possibility!

Second, you might point out that if he is right, IT DIDNT WORK VERY WELL! The Jews were never under control by the prophets--they killed every one of them! The prophets wrote the bible, not the controlling leadership! The leaders always killed the messengers of God--even Jesus referred to this in Matt 23.30: And you say, `If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.' 31 So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. and in Matt 23.37: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you..."...This is REAL historical data that proves him wrong

Continuing the same theme he suggested that the New Testament was written by people who wanted to reform the Jewish religion.

Again, ask for evidence and hard facts--not just 'clever sounding theories'

In one sense he is right--Jesus DID want to reform the religon, by preaching the New covenant to the Jews and by saving us!...this position is not necessarily wrong; its just not complete enough...what would be important to analyze this further, would be to find out which (if any) passages in the NT he would say were 'untrue' or 'propaganda'...then we could begin to think through that issue...

He has basically claimed that the Bible is a beautifully written piece of fiction.

Again, ask for proof and evidence--nobody thought that for centuries and centuries..

Every historical fact in it bears out in archeology...every detail looks like an eyewitness...the authors died as criminals for their belief that this was true...common people in the 1st century Palestine didn't write fiction! (that was for the elite Greeks and Romans outside of Palestine)...there is simply no reason in the world to believe this guy!

hope this makes sense,

The Christian ThinkTank...[] (Reference Abbreviations)