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The God of the Bible, also known as YHWH, Yahweh, Jehovah, Elohim, and Jesus (in the New Testament) is contradictory. Some sections suggest that YHWH is omnipotent. Others suggest that a four-story Tower of Bable is a threat to him. It's unclear if the God of the Bible is One or Three, if he is vengeful or merciful, if he has a body or not, and so on. This is because the Bible has been constructed by numerous authors and incorporates various attitudes towards divinity and justice, as well as several literary styles and conventions.

Changes in the way God is seen

The first thing that must be said about the god of the Bible is - which Bible? The God of the Old Testament, or Hebrew Bible, is the one most offered referred to.

Old Testament

But even this document is a composite of prior documents, wild editing, and whole cloth invention. The aloof and transcendental God of Jeremiah is quite different from the wistful, material god of Abraham.

Despite this, the God of the Bible can generally be said to be a jealous and unforgiving god, concerned with his worship and blind obedience, and prone to collective punishments. At early stages he lays down major miracles, that recede in magnitude and awesomeness as time progresses towards more historical, verifiable, periods. In some of the latter prophets, emphasis is shifted from worship to social concerns, although the ritualistic demands are never completely lifted and God's ruthlessness in punishing entire states and nations, even future generations, for minor sins is never abated. Starting as very physical (speaking, having a face and a back side), he in time sheds his material properties and becomes more abstract.

New Testament

The God of the New Testament is further progressed in time, which is to say the books were written considerably later. Again, different gods have different attributes. Whereas the gospel of Mark presents a secretive messiah that speaks in parables, the gospel of John describes a living manifestation of Greek concepts of divinity, frankly given, and supported by outlandish miracles. The apocryphal texts reveal even wider views on Jesus, and in light of the higher criticism can be seen as just as reliable for the most part. The writings of Paul seem to bear on a god quite different from that Jesus himself preached on, for example altering the old Jewish traditions against Jesus' explicit sayings.

Again, certain qualities of the New Testament god shine thorough nonetheless. This more modern god is far more interested in social issues and puts far less emphasis on daily worship and rituals. It seems to have a piercing moral insight, but at the same time one still trapped in its time (accepting slaves, for example) and to dispense miracles only rarely and feebly. As we move to more modern times still, with Paul, the restrictive measures of Judaism (such as circumcision and dietary laws) are lifted, while at the same time moral insight decreases (forbidding equality for women, for example).

After the New testament was written

Even further down the line God changes to accommodate pagan holidays (such as the date of his birth, set to be that of the traditional winter solstice or the Roman Sol Invictus.) At the same time many demigods of the Christian tradition (saints) likewise adopted and appropriated pagan customs.

Conclusion

Most religious interpretations of the Bible do not acknowledge the man-made and changing nature of God their scriptures describe, and therefore ascribe a permanent nature and character to the figure. This is a simple error, one easily corrected by a critical analysis of the text in light of modern linguistic, literary, and historical methods. Unfortunately, even those who accept this analysis too often justify the made-up morality instead of condemning it, and refuse to concede that the fictitious elements include God himself.

At the end, then, the God of the Bible is a god created in the image of the writers who wrote of him, and carries with him all their moral failings and their ignorance.

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