Bible fiction or non fiction?

(72 Posts)
GotMyGoat Sat 19-Jan-13 19:48:36

So, as an atheist I consider the bible to be fiction - a collection of stories,

However according to library cataloguing rules it's non fiction, and i'm not sure if this is accurate or bizarre.

What do religious folk think? Which side of the fence are you on? Genuinely baffled.

ohyeoflittlefaith Sat 19-Jan-13 19:51:49

If you research the history and genealogy featured in both the old and new testament I think you will find the events to be chronologically accurate.

Non fiction smile

GotMyGoat Sat 19-Jan-13 20:09:46

Ok. If history backs it up I can probably accept that!

headinhands Sat 19-Jan-13 20:29:29

I don't think the bible is chronologically accurate. It puts the creation of the earth and the first human at about 6000 years ago and it's obviously closer to 7000 smile

GotMyGoat Sat 19-Jan-13 20:33:53

I suppose my surprise is that my belief is that the bible is all a little fabricated, me going from the 'scientific' or universal view. Library classification shouldn't be based on religion, I haven't looked, bit i'm guessing all other religious texts are also non-fiction, and they can't all be true. I can live with it, what with my living in a christian society and all, but i'm just not sure it's right.

Gingerandcocoa Sat 19-Jan-13 20:46:55

Headinhands - the Bible actually does not state when the earth was created - of course, it mentions "days" but it does not say that the 7 days of creation would be the same 24 hour days we know today. Of course there's lots of controversy there (even between Bible-believing folk), but if this is anyone's main reason for not believing the Bible to be historically accurate, then that need not be the case smile.

One thing to consider is the number of manuscripts of the Bible that have been found. The New Testament, for example, has over 5,500 known manuscripts, with very insignificant (ie spelling) differences between them. Aristotle lived a couple hundred years before Jesus, and there are 5 known manuscripts of his writing. The funny thing is, not many people think that Aristotle was made up!

As you can tell, my view is that the Bible is non fiction. I have not ever heard any evidence to tell me otherwise, and I'd be interested if there was...!

ohyeoflittlefaith Sat 19-Jan-13 20:50:25

I'm not sure about the accuracy of dates headinhands, but since I started studying the bible, I have been rather surprised at how much of it is historical fact. I was once an atheist too and believed very much the same as the OP - that the bible was a collection of stories, but back then I had never read it for myself.....

Gingerandcocoa Sat 19-Jan-13 20:57:06

If anyone is ever interested in finding out more about what evidence exists for the Bible, I'd recommend a book called "Know why you believe" - I will caveat it's mainly aimed at Christians but I'm sure people from other religions / no religion would find it interesting as well, lots of history in it. Really easy read, in any case.

Tuo Sat 19-Jan-13 20:57:58

What system of library classification are you using? Dewey Decimal gives the Bible its own classification number (220), subdivided by subject area within that. Regardless of whether you classify the Bible as fiction or non-fiction, the sheer number of different editions and translations of the Bible, plus the huge amount of scholarship on and around it, surely merit it being in a category of its own.

headinhands Sat 19-Jan-13 21:36:34

Ah so the creation story comes down to interpretation. What about the flood? Did that happen how it was written?

pixi2 Sat 19-Jan-13 21:40:22

The bible is a collection of narratives so it would be nonfiction.

I do however, question the complete accuracy of the narratives we read today.

Speaking as someone who is considering a theology degree when dc are older and sleeping past 5am.

GotMyGoat Sat 19-Jan-13 21:40:54

Tuo, my trouble came way before the actual class mark (LOC, btw) just in cataloguing I have to pick non-fiction, or fiction (which I can then narrow into poetry etc.). I'd quite like a religious texts option, to keep everyone me happy.

Ginger, I'm always happy to have books recommended to me. I always think of the cherry tree which didn't make it into the bible. Very interesting about Aristotle - I don't suppose you have any references?

GotMyGoat Sat 19-Jan-13 21:43:12

I haven't read the whole bible, have read many parts (and all of the children's bible if that counts?). In our entirely atheist household we have many religious texts, as we like the books for their beauty and craftsmanship and they have some good stories in them.

Oh ye- I don't think i'll be converting!

Gingerandcocoa Sat 19-Jan-13 21:49:00

Well - subject to interpretation does not equal fiction. Academic debate would not exist if non-fiction works would be exempt from any interpretation smile.

Regarding the flood, there is scientific evidence that backs it up (which a quick Google search would show). Whether people choose to believe it or not, it really depends on them. I'm sure you can also find websites which reference evidence against the flood. The truth is - no one has proved either way.

Interestingly non Bible manuscripts written only a few generations after when the flood is supposed to have taken place also reference such a flood.

But I digress. Bottom line is: the Bible was not written or put together as a "book of stories", but as a historical account and it should be treated as such. Just because some people may not think that John M. Keynes' theory of economic development truthfully explains how economies work, it doesn't mean people would stick it in the "fiction" category.

GotMyGoat Sat 19-Jan-13 21:58:12

I like your John M. Keynes example, that helps me to understand it.

HolofernesesHead Sat 19-Jan-13 22:03:44

I'd say that the bible isn't one book, it's a volume of books, or mini-library of writings, some of which are fictional and some of which aren't. I think of it like a huge sprawling family album of stories, memories, poems, 'begats', letters, visions for now and the future, etc. I love it! smile

weegiemum Sat 19-Jan-13 22:08:29

I'm a Christian with a theology degree.

I regard the bible as mythos, not fiction but historical myth.

Though I love what jesus says!

GotMyGoat Sat 19-Jan-13 22:12:30

mini-library is nice. Big old scrap book. Need a category for that.

headinhands Sat 19-Jan-13 22:17:17

What about that Quran? Thats purported to be historically accurate. Can that be on the non fiction shelf too?

From what I've read there was probably a localised flood around that time as is recorded in other texts. Not sure about the geological evidence supporting a worldwide flood though. Not seen anything supporting that.

GotMyGoat Sat 19-Jan-13 22:22:46

I think it is on the non-fiction too headinhands. It's all the extra bits of 'magic' that make me raise my eyebrows.

I personally believe there was a chap called Jesus, we have a lot of evidence of that - [non-fiction]. I don't believe he was the son of God - [fiction].

That's how my brain sees all this.

As an aside the library division of fiction/nonfiction isn't strictly accurate as poems and plays are all classified under the Dewy Decimal system and they are fiction.

All religious texts, Qu'ran, Book of Mormon and so on are under the Dewy System.

GotMyGoat Sat 19-Jan-13 22:27:15

I'm talking about 008 control fields smile That's where I hit my problem.

GotMyGoat Sat 19-Jan-13 22:32:43

These are my options for books:

0 - Not fiction (not further specified)
1 - Fiction (not further specified)
d - Dramas
e - Essays
f - Novels
h - Humor, satires, etc.
i - Letters
j - Short stories
m - Mixed forms
p - Poetry
s - Speeches
u - Unknown
| - No attempt to code

I have to say I'm clueless as to what you mean by 008 control fields, sorry.

I believe the that the Bible's accuracy has been lessened over time due to the number of translations it has undergone, which has given it numerous interpretations.

Many things sound unbelievable but I'm sure if we were to explain things like DNA, Internet, television it would be unbelievable to people who lived 500 years ago let alone those who lived 5000 years ago.

GotMyGoat Sat 19-Jan-13 22:38:06

Cataloguer grin

I don't normally do religious texts though, so this was something of a learning curve for me.

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