Camille Paglia on the Bible and Jesus

At Salon.com today, Camille Paglia is asked by one of her readers what she thinks of the Bible, and the prophecies in the Old Testament (the Hebrew Bible) that were supposedly “fulfilled” by Jesus in the New Testament.

Here’s what she said:

I respect the Bible as one of the world’s greatest books, based on a magnificent body of oral poetry. It is a fundamental text that everyone, atheist or believer, should know. It speaks profoundly to everyone at each stage of life. And of course its hero sagas, from Moses to Christ, have been absorbed into the Western fine arts tradition.

But I do not accept the Bible as divinely inspired. Indeed, most scholars would agree that the New Testament was purposefully written as a point-by-point response to the Old Testament to prove that Jesus was indeed the Messiah whose arrival had been forecast for centuries. Therefore the details of Jesus’ life and experiences were tailored and shaped to echo the language and imagery of the Old Testament.

Personally, I do believe there was a historical Jesus. The evidence is fragmentary but, to me, convincing that a charismatic, itinerant preacher of his name was swept up into the cruel politics of the Roman occupation of fractious, rebellious Judaea.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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