In response to skeeter20's comment:
The point is, the point I was trying to make, that the bible is not a novel. That's just not accurate, even for secular progressives, it simply is not accurate.
Of course it's not a novel. It would be the most god-awful boring piece of work ever written if it were.
No. What the bible is is a collection of stories that nice Jewish people told each other for thousands of years and were slowly transcribed and collected as written Hebrew developed. The Jewish priesthood tacked on all sorts of rules for living, some of which were pragmatic, some of where were designed to repress women, and some of which they just felt like claiming god told them about.
A thousand or two years after that, a nice Jewish man starts gathering a following as he tries to convince people to just be nice to each other, damnit. Well, the Roman authorities - already fearful of their civil struggles that flared up with the death of Republic and rise of Empire - did not take kindly to the possibility of a power structure alternate to the Emporer.
See, now, if the Republic were still alive, Jesus would have posed less of a threat. At worst, maybe a follower goes to Rome and eventually becomes a Senator. Big whoop. Maybe he gets a following and convinces the senate to give him a position in Jerusalem. Big Whoop. There are others. But once you've got an Empire, man, you have to stamp out potential alternate power structures.
So, the Romans kill the nice Jewish man, and quite likely in roughly the manner described. They had a nack for hideous death-by-tortures. Anywho, the followers of that nice Jewish man decide to use the death to draw more people to them. Of course, they know perfectly well - having seen both Judiasm and Roman paganism - that the best way to unite a still mostly semi-conscious beings (humans) is through mythologizing a leader.
And so they spread stories, and write stories, about magic things this nice Jewish man supposedly did. All total bullsh!t, of course. But write them they did. And like a billion other priests in times past, they eventually got their following to grow. The principles were all designed to ensure absolute devotion. Much like fundamentalist muslims, they placed huge weight on martyrdom, on exterimination of their foes (just as the Pagans attempted to do them, up until the reign of Constantine and to a lesser extent, the earlier Diocletian).
And once the time of Constantine passed, the Pagans became the new target. And there's nothign like past martyrdom to justify the extermination of the new heretic. And so the myriad sects of church filled rivers with the blood of pagans and other Christian sects.
Of course, once a dude named Mohammed saw all that a few hundred years later, he decided the best way to make himself powerful was to do the same thing...just with a little more bombast. So starting with his own family, he convinced people that actually, HE was the messiah ('and Mohammed is his prophet'). With a following as fanatic as 60-300 A.D. christians werre, he proceeds to conquor all along the mideast, africa, and spain.
Oh, and we came so very close too all being muslim due to a fluke of luck. He turned back at the wrong time. He could have taken the remnants of the Western Empire from the confused and warring Goths, Ostrogoths, and other barbarians who had taken their turn pillaging the then-fallen Wester Roman Empire. (Fell ~550; the Eastern Empire lasted, at least in nominal form, up until 1453 or thereabouts).
The surviving muslims warred with the Christians for some time. Needless to say, in the name of this nice Jewish man, Jesus, the Christians exterminated hundreds of millions of others and their own in the roughly 1800 years until they ran out of American Indians and Africans to exterminate and finally sheathed their swords.....
That's history. The bible is a collection of (1) Jewish stories, and (2) mythology invented by persons seeking to establish a power structure to oppose and topple the Roman emporer, which successfully convicned untold minions to enslave themselves to fiction.
All of which makes me hope that if any extra-terrestrials ever amble by, that they please wait ten or twenty thousand years to make contact. We have a lot of waking up to do, and my bet is on self-annhilation first.