Friday, June 28, 2013

A little white lie of the Temple priests

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God" and/or the efforts of Temple priests to expand their authority in the year 622 bce. II Kings 22:8-13 describes an episode in which the priests find a lost scroll of the law during Temple repairs and present it to the king, who initiates sweeping reforms in Israel that greatly increase the priests' authority. Because the priests themselves are the ones who found the scroll which gives them this increased authority, it's been thought since the early nineteenth century that the priests synthesized the scroll, which later became the book of Deuteronomy, and then "found" it and falsely presented it as the writings of Moses from six centuries earlier. If this much of the Torah originated in deception, the authenticity of the Torah is seriously undermined, as well as all subsequent religions based on the Torah being written by Moses through the inspiration of God. My novels Secreta Corporis and The Talpiot Find examine the possibility of this deception by imagining the unearthing of clay tablets dating back to the seventh century bce. These fictional clay tablets represent a rough draft of the forged scroll "found" by the priests, and their discovery would undeniably establish the false origins of the scroll. The episode itself in II Kings, however, in view of the subsequent expansion of the role of the priests, is almost as incriminating as a rough draft would be, and it has been there in scripture all along, if we had wanted to see it.

The idea of a book of the Torah/Pentateuch originating in a deception seems minor and remote from the viewpoint of today. So they lied, so what? But so much of the contemporary world was founded, ultimately, on the belief that the earliest books of scripture were authentically God's word, that the effects of discrediting that authenticity would be felt throughout the contemporary world. Remove a foundation, and a structure built up from that foundation can't remain exactly as it was built. There will be some shifting and settling throughout the entire structure, all the way to the top. As distant and insignificant as five books of ancient writing seem now, the "floor" that represents today is supported by the floor which preceded it, directly below it, which is supported by the floor which preceded it, which is supported by the floor which preceded it, and on down to the floor directly supported by the foundation, which represents the books of the Torah. The effects of removing the foundation aren't limited to the floor directly supported by it. That floor supports the one above it, which supports the one above it, which supports the one above it, and on up to the top floor.

If the one billion Catholics, not counting Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Mormons, and all others who hold to the Mosaic authorship of the Torah, were somehow convinced, today, that the Torah originated in a deception twenty-six centuries ago, they would have to view Christ's teaching and the writings of the New Testament authors differently. Christ himself and all of the authors of the epistles accepted the Mosaic authorship of the Torah. If God were the source of the inspiration of the New Testament, it's unlikely that God would be unaware of the priests' deception regarding a scroll of the Torah. The one billion Catholics would have to view Christ as just a man and the epistles as just writings from the first century. The effect of that many people, one in seven, shifting their world-view would be felt by almost everyone else. Today.