Arthur Blech

This book (CAS) joins Misquoting Jesus (Erman), Sins of the Scripture (Bishop Spong), Age of Reason (Thomas Paine), Why I Am Not A Christian (Bertrand Russell), and similar books, all of which point out contradictions in the Bible. Although published almost ten years prior, CAS serves to contradict the events as depicted in the recent Mel Gibson film, Passion of Christ.

The author’s family perished in the Holocaust, at Auschwitz, an event that stimulated his interest in anti-Semitism, and this led him to become a Biblical scholar and to write three books related to the subject (Contra Naturam: Man’s Rebellion against Nature; Civilizaation…A Critque and, most recently, CAS). He challenges the historical accuracy of Biblical stories, from Moses through Jesus, and be believes that anti-Semitism was caused in material part by the Jews’ contempt for, and rejection of, other faiths and also by the anti-Judaic references in the Gospels and in Paul’s writings. He also assails the contradictions in the Gospels and in the writings of Paul. His broad view is that the ancient religious writers were often driven by profit motive and rendered unreliable accounts, many of which contradicted each other.

Interesting points include the following: The Jews were in Egyptian slavery for 400 years or four generations only or not at all; Jesus was crucified or hanged; Christ favored or rejected “nonresistance”; based upon conflicting historical accounts.

While I have no problem with his claims that are supported by citations to known texts, such as reputable versions of Jewish and Christian texts, there is a problem with the author’s habit of making statements for which no support is offered. He asserts that “scrolls dating back 2000 to 2500 years before Christ” said this or that, or “Paul thought that Jesus was crucified two centuries before his [Paul’s] time.” However, he doesn’t explain or support his conclusions. This, of course, makes one suspicious of many of his other similarly unsupported claims.

In sum, CAS doesn’t really explain the causes of anti-Semitism very well, and it makes far too many unsupported claims. It does, however, identify many contradictions in the Old and New Testaments. For scholarship, it still leaves quite a bit to be desired.