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Why the Bible Isn't History - Philip Davies

Philip Davies is Emeritus Professor in the Department for biblical studies at The University of Sheffield, he is an expert on the Dead Sea scrolls, and has published four books on the topic, he also specialises in Archaeology and the Old testament, and will bring his wealth of knowledge in this area to discuss how much we can say that the Bible is, or isn't history.

There will be a time for question and answers after the main talk, and of course plenty of time to enjoy a beer and meet each other in the friendly surroundings of The Bootlegger Pub, opposite the station in Wycombe.

Skeptics in the Pub is a place for inquisitive people of all ages to meet and converse in the High Wycombe area.

Skeptics are people who yearn to discover the truth behind extraordinary claims that people or groups may make, this can be in areas of alternative therapies, the paranormal, religion and faith, the afterlife or many other areas of life.

We make no claims to balance, and actively promote science, freedom of expression and secular humanism. This means we often end up talking about superstition, religious fundamentalism, censorship and conspiracy theory.

You are welcome to come along and just sit and listen to others, or if you are braver get stuck right in!

see our Facebook page and Twitter account to get a fuller idea of what we are about!

Most of us have a fondness for good quality beer, so our current home is Wycombe’s only specialty ale house & bottle bar, It is also a Bring Your Own Food Pub, and they have free WiFi.

The Bootlegger pub

3 Amersham Hill,

High Wycombe,



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  • Michael F.

    Hi everyone! This was supposed to be my dirst meetup and with the theme and all I was really looking forward to it... But somethings came up at work and I wont b able to make it. Hope to be with you on the next one!

    April 23, 2014

    • Daniel S.

      next time eh ? our next on is Philosopher Stephen Law - who is often the guest “secular” or “humanist/atheist” spokesman on TV discussion shows on religion and ethics.

      May 1, 2014

  • Trevor

    Thanks for organising. I would have appreciated greater focus, but biblical minimalists don't agree on much. As an atheist, what are the implications of minimalism for faith? If most biblical writing is allegorical, drawing on pop culture for impact, minimalism makes no difference; it's how you choose to interpret the allegory that informs faith. Today, Christian faith seems to be a personal relationship with god, less institutionalised. Rowan Williams' recent comments about cultural memory chime: "If I say that this is a post-Christian nation, that doesn't mean necessarily non-Christian. It means the cultural memory is still quite strongly Christian ... the cultural presence is still quite strongly Christian. But it is post-Christian in the sense that habitual practice for most of the population is not taken for granted. A Christian nation can sound like a nation of committed believers, and we are not that. Equally, we are not a nation of dedicated secularists."

    1 · April 29, 2014

    • Daniel S.

      I booked Philip. My thoughts
      “I would have appreciated greater focus”

      Me too. But Phil spoke for a general audience not me. My particular interest was in Phils view on where Jewish monotheism arises from. Philips view is – I recall - it arises from Persia, zoroastrian roots. Other “minimalists” argue it stems from hellenistic philosophy. “but biblical minimalists don't agree on much.” Not so. They all agree Moses stories arent history true, that one shouldn’t use the OT to place-marker archaeological finds. Paucity of material evidence lays open for disagreement most topics. Applies to non-minimalists too.

      “As an atheist, what are the implications of minimaalism for faith? “

      Believers need to reconsider inerrancy, fundamentalism and how scripture gets used ?

      “Today, Christian faith seems to be a personal relationship with god“
      Apologist Bill Craig, asked a question on this admits that by “personal relationship” he doesn’t REALLY mean “personal relationship”.

      1 · April 29, 2014

  • Neil D.

    Thanks all for coming on Wednesday, have had a whole range of opinions about the talk and the evening... but it certainly got people talking!

    April 27, 2014

  • Peter T.

    I agree this was an interesting talk but it was hard work. The content was very good but the delivery was more appropriate to a student tutorial than an evening in the pub. I worried that Philip assumed too much knowledge on the part of the audience. Anyone not actually studying for a degree in biblical history needs to be entertained as well as informed. The points about the OT representing cultural history were well made. We shouldn't assume, however, that the stories are just randomly altered or adapted over the generations. I've just finished reading the Penguin Classics edition of the Epic of Gilgamesh. This was transmitted fairly accurately over 2 millenniums by virtue of two factors. Firstly, it was written on durable clay tablets and ancient Babylonian and Assyrian kings established libraries to preserve them. Secondly, they were poetry which is much easier to memorize and hence transmit accurately. (That doesn't make them history, though!)

    3 · April 26, 2014

    • Daniel S.

      Yes - it did require a lot of focused attention. I think the Q and A section served better for him. Shame there weren’t a few more tough xtian questions too. But as someone - like you who’ve delved into many books on such topics I found a few points by him illuminating. We didn’t have time for me to press him on the differences between Philip and his Danish colleagues. Phil thinks monotheism stemmed from Persian Zoroastrianism. The “Danes” think monotheism arose from the hellenist philosophers who gradually began what has become the “philosopher god” - via basically a priori means.

      April 26, 2014

  • Dougald T.

    Another interesting talk, although at times I felt I needed to be a Bible scholar myself to follow some of the more obscure points

    2 · April 26, 2014

    • Daniel S.

      true. His scholar peer Bart Ehrman is a far better ( and popular ) communicator. But its going to be rare to get someone with the kind of knowledge ( and skepticism ) of Paul.

      April 26, 2014

    • Daniel S.

      ( Phil )

      April 26, 2014

  • Sonja

    Enjoyed the evening - thanks for organising!

    1 · April 24, 2014

  • Neil D.

    Thanks to all who came tonight! Great to meet new people, and see old friends! An in depth talk, but hope you got something out of it, i was really taken by what Philip said about stories being a shared thing, and even if not rooted in 'history' can still have a value in building identity.

    1 · April 24, 2014

  • Jane

    My first meeting! I don't really know the pub. Is the event in the bar or in a separate room? See you all later ... looking forward to it!

    April 23, 2014

    • Paul H.

      Hi Jane, we take over the right hand part of the pub so we're easy to find. We will be there from 7:30 onwards.

      April 23, 2014

  • Neil D.

    Should be a bumper turnout on Wednesday, so make sure you get there early to get a drink and a good seat!!!

    April 20, 2014

  • Graeme

    Hi, I look forward to meeting those of you who will be there next Wednesday.


    2 · April 17, 2014

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