The Telephone Game and The Bible August 20, 2010

The Telephone Game and The Bible

Very similar routes from beginning to end…

(via Indexed)

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  • Nakor

    Gah, I had totally forgotten about Indexed! Thanks for the reminder. ^_^ Such was awesome site. 😀

  • Hmm…very funny. I don’t suppose you have any meaningful evidence to back up such rhetoric?

  • Parse

    Reminds me a lot of this SMBC comic. For bonus points, hover over the red dot at the end.

  • Jon Peterson

    I was actually just having a conversation about this with my father less than 24 hours ago. >.>


    (@Parse: I am ashamed to admit that I never knew what the red dot on SMBC was for. Thanks for the heads-up! :))

  • DSimon

    Justin, you mean evidence that ancient texts are habitually mis/reinterpreted and thus lose a certain amount of their original meaning to the modern lay audience?

    Okay, how about this. It’s just one example, but it’s fairly representative of the process: in order to justify belief in X given new understanding Y, the ancient text that originates X is reinterpreted so that it seems to have been also supporting Y all along.

    And that doesn’t even include culture drift (where analogies that might’ve meant one thing at the time and place they were written now mean something entirely else, or nothing at all), and inaccuracy introduced by translation.

  • telephones are the devil’s telegram.

    it was funny in my head.

  • David

    Ironically, when I was a kid (and still a Christian), our youth pastor would have us play the telephone game to illustrate the problem of gossip. One person says one thing, yet it quickly turn into another story all together.

    Strangely, he didn’t think that this same thing could occur with ancient verbal traditions being passed down over several generations before they were finally written down.

  • Justin: For all the evidence you could ever possibly need, complete with scholarly sources from believers and nonbelievers alike, I suggest that you read Bart D. Ehrman’s “Lost Christianities” and “Lost Scriptures”. The Bible is anything but an unchanging document, and the way it has been interpreted has changed even more. I’d be willing to bet that you didn’t know that many of the earliest Christians were polytheists…

  • fritzy


    Others have provided plenty of evidence, so I will answer your question with a question. The Bible is largely oral tradition. When have you ever known anything that has passed from person to person orally to remain unchanged from the original message for even a short time, let alone several generations?

  • DSimon: So, we aren’t going to use any scholarly sources at all then? We are content to use someone’s opinion and/or impression of presented material? No primary, secondary, or even tertiary sources…no we are content to use anyone’s material, no matter how far fetched?

    MikeTheInfidel: Cute name!;) I appreciate the spirit and research of Dr. Ehrman’s work, but I would caution the reader of Ehrman that the very thing He asserts is the Bible’s downfall, is in-fact it’s strongest point. So, the nature of your proposal is well received yet found lacking in substance.

    Fritzy: Who says the Bible is largely oral tradition? Are you simply repeating what you have heard or do you have any evidence? That being said, you are certainly correct that oral transmission is unreliable, but I fail to see how this has bearing on the Bible or its transmission/translation.

  • fritzy


    I guess I will have to trust the numerous Biblical scholars, (including the professor I took Jewish and Christian Heritage from in college, as well as my college roommate who is a history major and ordained priest,) who have reported, time and time again, that a good number of the stories in the Bible are an accumulation of myths passed around from person to person, some of them borrowed from other oral traditions in the area.

    Most Biblical scholars are in agreement, for instance, that the first of the Gospels was likely written down 30-50 years after the supposed death of Christ. If you don’t consider that oral tradition I’m not sure what to say.

    I can’t tell from what you have written so far but if you happen to believe that the Bible is the inerrant, inspired word of God, making it trancendent of the typical errors that occur with oral traditions, most of what I have just said will be meaningless to you.

  • Fritzy,
    30-50 years represents a single generation, which in turn lends itself to eyewitness testimony. Again, I fail to see the bearing oral transmission has upon the subject of the integrity of the text of the Bible.
    Also, I find it odd that your ordained friend would attest to the unreliability of scripture. What would be the point of that? Does this ordained friend believe in the Bibles authority or not; and if not, then from where does he source any sort of ability to comment intelligibly on anything? By whom is he ordained?

    As you can see, to cite an unreliable source out of context simply raises more questions than prove worth-while to even bring up. Isn’t the point of a college education to learn the ability to do reliable research for yourself and therefore not have to stand on what may prove to be another’s bias, and or mistakes? Thank you for confirming for me that you have not meaningfully engaged anything you have presented here in any sort of fair, reliable way. Under the circumstances it may be too much to ask for simple scholarship on your part.

    All I ask is for you (read: Atheists) to invest the same resources in my view point (as a Christian) as I do in so many differing views, to include Atheism.

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