I have been a Christian for a very long time, and although I once like you believed it all, I now no longer see “the unmistakable credentials of Divine authority”The gospels were written in the Jewish literary tradition known as midrashic literature and were arranged so as to fit into the pre-existing Jewish lectionary . This is a new point of entry into biblical truth. To anyone who clings to the notion of literal truth, I can only say that it is the content of the teaching which is important and not the literal historicity of the biblical story. The Jewish people had a “God experience” in the life and teachings of Rabbi Yeshua. To them this God experience was so real and so powerful that they were unable to speak of it easily in the ordinary, everyday language of human beings.
The Jews who wrote the gospels knew they were not history, the Jews who first read them knew they were not history, but they also knew in the depth of their being that the Jesus experience was true. It was not literally true — it was profoundly true. It was of God. It is we gentiles, centuries later and in total ignorance of the Jewishness of our scriptures, that have said in essence, “We know best”, and have read them as if they were literal history.
I do not accept the Bible as the “Word of God” for the very simple reason that from Genesis to Revelations it is full of scientific errors, historic errors, contradictions, fiction, mythology, mistaken and unfulfilled prophesies and midrashic literature. For these reasons I cannot accept it as either inerrant or literal. It is very human document.
I approach the Bible like a miner would approaching his claim. I am prepared to spend a lot of time and effort searching for the shining nuggets but I am also prepared to have to shift a lot of rubble in order to find them.
In the first few decades of the last century a great deal of research went into trying to understand oral traditions while they were still around to study. It seems that the story tellers work from a ‘framework’. A story is never told the same way twice but the framework remains intact. Once such a story is committed to print it becomes locked in place for all time. Moreover once that has happened it becomes very difficult to discern what is framework and what is the story teller’s own variation on the theme. This what I suspect has happened in both the Jewish and Christian scriptures. What we are reading are very human documents.