PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 November, 2010, 12:00am

Bible displays neither unity of style nor internal consistency

I am writing to address the issues raised by William Meacham ('Evidence shows Gospel writers knew Jesus', October 31).

Your correspondent says that the 'scholarly consensus that is now emerging is that all four Gospels were written before the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Romans in AD70'. The majority of biblical scholars' estimates of the writing dates are after 70CE (Common Era), and the estimated dates vary significantly. It is worth noting that the evidence for any of the dates is scant, often circumstantial and at no stage meets any form of academic verification criteria. (In estimating literary dates, biblical scholars use the subjective 'higher criticism' method.)

Mr Meacham cites as support for a pre-70CE writing of the Gospels the example that the siege and destruction of Jerusalem (70CE) is not mentioned. However, the Gospel of Matthew does contain references to this event, albeit as a prophecy. It is this very prophecy that leads many biblical scholars to state that the Gospel of Matthew was almost certainly written after 70CE.

Countless handwritten Bible revisions were made over a period exceeding 900 years. Passages were rewritten by early Christians in order for events to be 'retrospectively foretold' as they were convinced that the Bible must be an infallible God-authored top down document, rather than the clearly human-written bottom-up document that it is. Evidence of this is supported by the many contradictory and conflicting non-canonical Gospels that were discarded over time, such as the Gospels of Thomas, Judas and Peter.

Most people acknowledge the Chinese Whispers children's game as an example of the ease with which information becomes distorted and unrecognisable over a short period of time. Mr Meacham would do well to apply this logic to his argument for 'evidence that all four Gospel writers did know Jesus'. This is a vain attempt to give scholarly credibility to a document which displays neither unity of style nor internal consistency, and was written by men who thought the earth was flat and for whom a wheelbarrow would have been a breathtaking example of emerging technology.

Justin O'Brien, Discovery Bay

Small-class teaching good for pupils

There are a lot of benefits to small-class teaching. Many secondary schools face closure over the next five years. However, they would not have to shut their doors if small-class teaching was adopted, because they could meet government quotas.

A small-class environment can help shy pupils to speak up more. A more intimate learning community can lead to a better relationship between pupils and their teacher and teachers can spend more time answering pupils' questions. This can lead to more critical thinking and overall an upgrade in the quality of the education that is provided.

Critics have talked about the increased cost of implementing small-class teaching.

Education is an investment in human capital which helps to determine the level of economic growth and competitiveness of a country or a city.

In the longer term the government will see the benefits of this policy.

Jaime Yu, Lai Chi Kok

Short shrift from Love HK campaign

When I first heard about the 'Love Ideas, Love HK' campaign I felt my spirits lift. Finally someone with a bit of money and power cared enough about Hong Kong people to put funds into building the community, and with respect for public input.

I felt so enthusiastic that I put in an application for a programme.

It took me a great deal of time, and involved several meetings consulting with others similarly keen about this programme.

Then, I received a typically Hong Kong generic rejection response to my application, which didn't even specify the reason for the rejection (it simply listed possible reasons). There was no name or signature on the e-mail. I can't say I'm impressed, considering the time and effort I put in. The least they could have done is have a human being communicate with those who have taken the initiative to create a community programme.

What an irony: my programme was designed to help people connect and to alleviate the alienation in Hong Kong caused, in part, by mindless bureaucracy and impersonal indifference, and it was treated in exactly that same way.

Marcus Anthony, Discovery Bay

Failing to grasp main purpose of law

I refer to the report ('Tommy Cheung stirs the minimum wage pot one more time', October 29). I don't agree that restaurants will close down just because workers' salaries are increased under the minimum wage law.

Catering sector lawmaker Tommy Cheung Yu-yan said that a minimum wage was not a good way to bridge the wealth gap. The main objective of this policy is not to bridge this gap, but to improve the wages of poorer members of the community and improve the quality of their lives. If they spend more this can boost the Hong Kong economy. This legislation is aimed at protecting the poor in our community.

I do think the government should help those industries which struggle with the minimum wage rate, not just the catering sector. Once they have adapted to this policy we can look at the issue of maximum working hours.

Michael Yau Lok-yin, Sha Tin

Poll result a sign of a dumbed-down nation

Though they were widely predicted, the results of the midterm elections showed what a sad day it is for America. The country really should be renamed the DSA (Disunited States of America).

As in the recent past, the barbarians have once again taken over. This is understandable in a country where a large segment of the population is deeply parochial and traditionally leery of intellectuals.

When George W. Bush beat John Kerry in 2004, public opinion showed that most voters said they would rather have a beer with Mr Bush than with someone who was obviously brainy and spoke French. They were likewise scornful, in 2000, of Al Gore and his intellectual prowess.

Should we despair over the fact that the world's superpower continues to degenerate into an even more dumbed-down nation? Or can one hope that its wise and thinking members will redeem that country?

Vandana Marino, Lantau

Unhappy with fish op

I refer to the report on a clownfish using equipment worth HK$113,000 ('Ocean Park pulls out all stops to save Nemo's eye', October 29).

The fish would cost just HK$20 at aquariums in Mong Kok.

It think it was unacceptable to spend so much money on a 4cm clownfish when many underprivileged people cannot get medical welfare.

Ocean Park could have used the money improving its facilities.

More trainers could have been employed to come with new performances by dolphins and sea lions, given that the shows have not changed much in the past few years.

Also the toilets need to be refurbished to provide visitors with a more comfortable environment.

Chan Pui-shan, Kwai Chung