Paine wrote a thorough critic on the aspects from the bible that Christians consider as a foundation for their religious beliefs and affiliation. In the book, Thomas begins by citing the issue of the bible proving facts. He implores that most of the facts that are stipulated in life may be looked upon from biblical teaching, but unless the text itself is proved, then the facts are still void and cannot be trusted. The Bible has undeniably been a source of disputable truth from the Christians. Paine seeks to put the aspects of the mystery, prophecies and the miracles that are evidenced in the bible into focus in "The Age of Reason."
The book notes that the mere fact that the Bible exists in the historical ages of a century that no one seems to remain from exhibits the mystery that it possesses. The mystery is in not knowing the origin of anything and the difficulty in the evidence of proving that the bible was indeed written by the command of God’s authority. To that extent, the author cites that the bible could be a fable. Also, the mystery lies in not understanding what it highlights, because everybody has their interpretations of the Bible. The point that Thomas intended to emphasize this notion is that when everybody has their thinking of a text that is unclear, that renders it mysterious. The reason is there is no known answer or surety for what the text says. The other identified point in the work of Thomas Paine that showcases the mysteriousness of the Bible is the aspect of authorship and authority. The author recognized that books are, usually, trusted not because of the author, but for the reason of the points they seek to pass. In such a manner, the author could be completely eradicated from the book but the information would still be trusted because the authority in the books is not premised on incredible aspects. The case is different with the bible because of the mystery of the nature of what id depicts. The author of a book or chapter in the Bible has to be present for the contents to be trusted. The authors, in this case, remain to be unknown yet they form the fundamental part of what is to be believed. Christians believe the incredible acts in the book of Moses because he is a person who is thought to have encountered God. When Moses happens not be the author if the book, then they would cease in the belief of the contents in the book of Moses. Paine says, “ If it is to be found that any part of the books of Moses or Samuel were not written by them, any part of authenticity and authority of the books is gone at once ( page3).” Therefore, from such a sentiment, the bible remains mysterious because it is hard to understand it without the presence of the different authors, who also remain a mystery. The authors are not evidenced as having written the books, which makes what is stipulated in them difficult to prove and origin less, thus rendering it a mystery. Thomas identifies that most of the times, the five first books of the bible talk of Moses in first person. There is no point in time that Moses says, “I.” the books have exchanges dialogs and switched positions between Moses and the writer as noted by Thomas. Thomas Paine continues to divulge information about the death of Moses, saying that he was buried by God. Thomas then quips the question of how the writer knew such information, and is the books was indeed written by Moses, how he continued and even gave information on his death. Through the raising of such inconsistencies, the writer showcases the mystery behind the authors and information in the bible.
The book further goes ahead to discredits some aspects that have been identified with the prophets, and thus giving doubt of the truth behind several prophecies. The story of Jonah the prophet in the Bible often seeks to teach Christians on the issue of obedience and highlight that they have to follow the mission that is given to them. However, Thomas conjures this whole story to be a fabrication and an imaginative impulse to get people to do as told. Jonah is depicted as an obedient prophet who ran away from his mission. In the book, however, Thomas instigates people’s thinking into the odd circumstances of the event. For instance, he wonders why the ship members did not question him when he joined them. It is strange that a man who was not in their company appears, and they only notice he is not a Hebrew when the ship begins to topple. The whole scenario is unorthodox, which draws question of the bible’s using prophets to make Christians believe something.
The book suggests that the priests waste their time when interpreting the works of people like Ezekiel, who pretend to dream of visions. He further states that the prophets and everyone else who claims of visions only pretends to do so that they can escape the realism of having to speak in a precise and plain manner. They use metaphoric language to express their opinions and in turn impose them on people. The author vehemently discredits the accounts of prophecies that have been stipulated in the bible. He calls prophets “men who amused themselves with dreams and visions (page 49),” to show how much he distrusted them and the stories that were told about their circumstances.
The same notion is what he applies to the miraculous happenings that were witnessed in the New Testament. The author first identifies that the books that talked about the miraculous happenings in the birth, life, death and subsequent resurrection of Jesus were accounted for in the first four books of the testament. He discounts the stories based on the inconsistencies in which they occurred. Thomas cited that miracles were lies that were supported by very little evidence and witnesses who were confused with their facts of the events that happened. He implored that all lies that were depicted in the miracles were easy to fabricate, but not good enough because they were not well supported. For instance, the miracles birth of Jesus Christ is represented differently in all the four books. Matthew says that the Angel appeared to Mary while look emphasizes on the appearance to Joseph (Paine, Thomas, 78). The book of Mark quips that he appeared into both. Therefore, what Thomas is implying is, if the miracle conception was witnessed, the facts should be correct, which is the same as the other miracles performed by Christ. The sources tell a different, albeit with the same idea, of the accounts of the miraculous resurrection, the story of the lame walking man and the issue of the death of Christ. The inconsistencies in the witnessing of such supernatural acts discredit the sources from which they emanated. Thomas says that miracles are so extraordinary in nature that anyone who witnesses them might have the memory of what the exact happening. The disparities in the stories as told in the New Testament only highlight that the miracles were a fabrication of the imaginations of the said disciples or did not at all happen.
Most Christians would feel offended by the analysis done by the writer in aspects that have shaped their lives and beliefs. However, the reading of the book sure is insightful and brings some aspects of the bible that are questionable. Even so, the controversial nature in which the bible is highlighted only showcases the mystery that surrounds the stories that are supposed to be holy. The holiness in the bible could be the reason it is beyond all forms of human understanding. As Christians often say, the Biblical interpretations require the Holy Spirit open one’s eyes symbolically to things that may appear obvious but cannot be perceived by the naked eye. Therefore, that could be the reason as to why inconsistencies arise; the lack of a deep understanding fuelled by the help of the Holy Spirit.
Paine, Thomas. The Age of Reason. 6th ed. LLC, 2012. 296. Print.