Bible from a non-theist perspective
To examine the Bible from a non-theist perspective is to examine it from an academic perspective without attempting to attribute its authorship to a supernatural being. This is not intended to offend; it is merely done for the purposes of scholarship. It, unfortunately, has the appearance of seeming cold or unfeeling to those who hold the documents of the Bible as a direct link to a loving creator. However, to study the Bible from a philological perspective can provide everyone who reads these documents insights that they will undoubtedly find useful, whether or not they share the same beliefs regarding their origin of inspiration.
It is impossible to deny that the Bible’s influence over a significant amount of the planet’s population and humanity’s history and it has continued to do so as it has evolved over the centuries.
While people’s interpretations have differed significantly, the fact that they have found significance within the various books has influenced the course of human history since its inception has consequences that cannot be ignored even by those who do not see a supernatural influence in the composition. Because of this immensely widespread influence, it has captured the attention of atheist academics as well as religious scholars who wish to study its origins, anthropologically, sociologically, linguistically, literarily, culturally and archeologically, in order to gain as much contextual understanding as possible.
While the initial inception of each document has boundless importance unto itself, perhaps the most fascinating and telling aspect of the Bible is its evolution unto modern times. This is perhaps the most complicated facet, the most overlooked, yet the most integral to understanding the history of the Bible documents themselves. It is the development of the Bible through the translations of it, the compilations and the derision that came about where the true influence on world events can be seen. The fact that the interpretations and arguments over what documents to include in this religious text could cause such a vast manipulative effect over world events is second only to the secular political conflicts that affect the course of human progress.
The church acted as a very powerful political entity and continues to do so, to this day.
It is an odd dichotomy to observe from the outside, and yet the ancient counterpart is very well documented in the Bible, between those who believe purely in the tenants of their religion and those who use the religion as a vehicle to gain power. It is this duplexity that is an especially powerful metaphor because the power-seekers can always seek redemption from the faithful and the faithful can always fuel the vehicle that provides the power base for the power-seekers. They are the most unlikely and worst of bedfellows; yet seem to incite each other.
This endless cycle and influence over human affairs seem to best find its symbol in the text of the Bible because it is the largest example of this duet. Its influence has the furthest reaches in physical scale and in time, as well. There has yet to be a text to surpass it and it has not even been fully examined with ever-growing sophisticated modern techniques and technology available. There has never been enough of a consensus made, whether among religious or secular scholars, as to a single interpretation of the collection of documents to say definitively “this is what these documents mean precisely”. There is a continual debate, retranslations, reinterpretations, and archeological evidence being uncovered that give scholars more understanding of its origins and transcriptions. Yet, the more time that passes, the thicker the veil over the past becomes. If we try to study the Bible accurately as possible, the more honestly we can look at the books that we have allowed to influence our society and the more we can make purposeful decisions about which direction we would like our society to go.