Thursday, October 23, 2008

Defining The Bible

Sunday, July 20, 2008
Bible: Rules or Guidelines?

The Bible appears to be simply a book of rules; rules which if you break could bring on some horrific consequences. These rules, when broken, are punished by horrible acts including stoning, burning, and miscarriages. In the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) God seems to condone genocide and the killing of innocent people, how can we place our faith in a book which seems to display such a disregard for any type of morality? To be able to do so we must first understand how the Bible came to be in the form we have it in today. Jesus did not come to Earth and handwrite the King James Version of the Bible; rather it was formed through centuries of editing and translation. The texts were edited to fit the changing beliefs of the Hebrew and Jewish cultures. Every one of the disciples, and Paul, were Jewish and remained Jewish. Jesus was born, raised, killed, and supposedly resurrected as a Jewish man himself, to understand the Bible we must first understand that. Jesus said he came not to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17-18). If he did not come to destroy the Law, then why do we still eat meat or use contraceptives, because those practices are condemned in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). The point of the Law was not to be a rule book though, the Law gave the Hebrew people their identity, and the Law was their guidelines on how to be “fully human”. They, just as mankind today, expressed their thoughts and ideas through a system of symbols we call language. While our symbols have become fairly complex, they still fall short of expressing the pure meaning of what is trying to be said. For example if someone says “I love you”, this is a very general statement, and there is an infinite amount of degrees of love. You may love an ex-partner still, but you could never act on it because you may love your new partner much more. The same symbol (word) is used to describe two different feelings, and this is the case with most scenarios. The Hebrew language, which is the language the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) is written in, is very ambiguous.


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2 comments:

Jeremy said...

I usually deal with these issues by focusing on a truth which these passages teach while still labeling as immoral the acts that are described. For instance, I might say that Joshua hyperbolically illustrates the truth that God is powerful, but that the way this truth is demonstrated is immoral. I also do not think that many of these things actually happened. Joshua describes complete destruction, but Judges gives a different picture.

TheoPoet said...

Sorry it took so long to get back to you, but thanks for your insights. I seem to have gotten behind on responding to comments.

Anyways, I know what you mean. Here's how I take the Canaanite massacre/genocide: It is my contention that God did not decree genocide and that there is no historical basis that God ever did---for genocide especially involving infants is inconsistent with the character of God as self-disclosed in Christ. I propose two options of alternative views for these accounts: either one God did not decree genocide, but the Israelites believed that God did and God allowed them to partake in actual genocide (which is more likely the scenario) or two these accounts serve as a metaphor for the triumph of Judaism in Canaan or God’s victory in the individual---or as a metaphorical and “theological polemic, with the majority of events invented during or after the Babylonian captivity, to encourage faithfulness to the Jewish creed at a time when it was being threatened (which is probable---given the fact that the Bible is written by many different authors at different times using different lenses to convey various viewpoints and exists only in copies of x# of copies that have been translated and retranslated several times over). For instance, Morton says that Joshua "should be understood as a rite of ancient peoples (Israel among them) whereby within the context of their times, they attempted to please God (or the gods)".”---Morton's quote comes from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Joshua