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post #171 of 186 (permalink) Old 06-01-2009, 12:18 PM
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I believe that the writer(s) of Genesis had a different consensual reality from ours. They wrote what they knew. That so many people in 3 major religions all find comfort and truth in what a bunch of shepherds and temple scribes wrote speaks well to the transcendent quality of their work. Their job was to write the stories that were instructive. They did not have our modern corpuscular view of history. That is a recent innovation that most historians trace to the Greek Herodotus. Before (and after) Herodotus, myth and metaphor were freely woven into history to tell a story. The Iliad is an excellent example of the pre-Herodotus style of history. I think that the Bible is a similar compilation, condensation and entwining.
We seem to have reached an accord. I agree with this completely. Now allow me to suggest that this supports my contention that Genesis in particular, is wrong rather than metaphorical. To be metaphorical, the author must be completely aware that his tale is a figure of speech rather than literal.

To my knowledge, (please correct me if I'm wrong), Homer presented his works as an art form, rather than instruction.

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post #172 of 186 (permalink) Old 06-01-2009, 12:21 PM
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Absolute, irrefutable? The Bible is neither.
Exactly. (--> insert Shakespeare quote here <--)

The earth is more than 10,000 years old. Game, set, match. I will concede that that speaks only to the OT.

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post #173 of 186 (permalink) Old 06-01-2009, 12:23 PM
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That so many people in 3 major religions all find comfort and truth in what a bunch of shepherds and temple scribes wrote speaks well to the transcendent quality of their work.
This is where the deniers feast. They hold the book at arms length to keep all positive things away.

No comfort = no truth.
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post #174 of 186 (permalink) Old 06-01-2009, 12:57 PM
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We seem to have reached an accord. I agree with this completely. Now allow me to suggest that this supports my position that Genesis in particular, is wrong, rather than metaphorical. To be metaphorical, the author must be completely aware that his tale is a figure of speech rather than literal.

To my knowledge, (please correct me if I'm wrong), Homer presented his works as an art form, rather than instruction.
I disagree somewhat, for this reason: I don't believe that we can fairly infer what the author(s) thought or didn't think, using modern symbology. the mapping between us and them is too distorted. It's like judging Nero harshly for using Christians as human torches at one of his feasts. A barbaric lighting system and probably not efficient. But Nero was interested in conveying multiple messages using metaphors to every segment of his city and nation. Was it harsh? Uh, yeah. Even his sympathetic contemporaries thought it a bit over the top. But it was not insane, it was not novel. It was merely excessive.

We share a lot more in common with urban Romans of 1700 years ago than we do with pastoral semi-literate nomads of 3,000 years ago. Roman poetry and plays make sense. Roman engineering and science make sense. Roman art makes sense. Roman politics for the most part makes sense to us. Roman religion -- eh, not so much I guess.

In contrast, we share almost nothing with ancient Hebrews. What do modern Americans know about agrarian or pastoral life? The Hebrews were not interested in engineering and technology, they freely adopted whatever they could from conquering or conquered neighbors. As a result, their art and architecture is undistinguished. About the only thing of theirs that we do understand, at least to some degree, is their religion, which we adapted to our own modern western culture. St John's metaphor of the good shepherd is an excellent example. Unless we have some idea of pastoral living, it makes the Good Shepherd sound like a thoughtful pet owner. Good for him!

More specifically addressing Genesis, I think most modern scholars accept that much of the book was an oral history that wasn't written for perhaps a couple thousand years. We can't even agree on a story concerning Dubyuh, wonder what it would look like after 2,000 years of mouth-to-ear-to-mouth transmission! The oral tale itself has elements that most scholars attribute to the Exile, when the defeated Hebrews were sent to Babylon for a couple of generations. Evidently the Babylonian metaphors sneaked under the tent. Thus, the different creation myths of chapters 1 and 2. Chapter 1 is all Hebrew, Chapter 2 is Babylonian-Hebrew. Also the frequent polytheistic references in Genesis. Thus, a story thousands of years and culturally dissimilar became part of the canon. How? When the Babylonian Jews returned they forced the unexiled Jews to adopt the exiled Jews wholly scripture, which had an urban/polytheistic bias, and abandon their earlier strictly monotheistic, pastoral/agrarian bias.

In closing, I have to say it amuses me to hear people sometimes argue that the Bible is literally true. When demonstrated that the Bible is itself, an amalgamated text from a variety of competing cultures and shot through with inexplicable anachronisms, they place the problem squarely on the shoulders of the scholars who have, since the Reformation, been struggling to produce the most accurate possible interpretation of those ancient texts. Modern literalists, literally don't know what they are talking about.

B

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post #175 of 186 (permalink) Old 06-01-2009, 01:01 PM
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I'l jump on this, Stu!
The earth is more than 10,000 years old, German? Where did you come up with that? Is that a basis for the OT, Genesis being false?

First off: God is not tied to time, but instead creates it.
Second: There is nothing in the first verse to verify a timeline. The timeline starts a few verses later.
Third: The 6 days, can be anything. since God....
A. Controls time, and can make a 6 day old oak tree look 100 yrs old when the rings are counted, so he could give the appearance of age......OR
B. It is as old as science shows, since a day for the Lord is as a thousand years
which brings me around to the "First" point.

Good science and good theology can meld. The arrogance of scientists and theologians is an interrupting force however. God created the theology AND the science.

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post #176 of 186 (permalink) Old 06-01-2009, 01:06 PM
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I'l jump on this, Stu!
The earth is more than 10,000 years old, German? Where did you come up with that? Is that a basis for the OT, Genesis being false?

First off: God is not tied to time, but instead creates it.
Second: There is nothing in the first verse to verify a timeline. The timeline starts a few verses later.
Third: The 6 days, can be anything. since God....
A. Controls time, and can make a 6 day old oak tree look 100 yrs old when the rings are counted, so he could give the appearance of age......OR
B. It is as old as science shows, since a day for the Lord is as a thousand years
which brings me around to the "First" point.

Good science and good theology can meld. The arrogance of scientists and theologians is an interrupting force however. God created the theology AND the science.

Aardvark
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Is the earth less than 10,000 years old, or is god too incoherent to discern the difference between a day and a billion years as we understand it? That is the choice on your plate. Any other choice is plucked from the bowels of your fertile imagination.
Understood.

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post #177 of 186 (permalink) Old 06-01-2009, 01:20 PM
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I disagree somewhat, for this reason: I don't believe that we can fairly infer what the author(s) thought or didn't think, using modern symbology. the mapping between us and them is too distorted. It's like judging Nero harshly for using Christians as human torches at one of his feasts. A barbaric lighting system and probably not efficient. But Nero was interested in conveying multiple messages using metaphors to every segment of his city and nation. Was it harsh? Uh, yeah. Even his sympathetic contemporaries thought it a bit over the top. But it was not insane, it was not novel. It was merely excessive.

We share a lot more in common with urban Romans of 1700 years ago than we do with pastoral semi-literate nomads of 3,000 years ago. Roman poetry and plays make sense. Roman engineering and science make sense. Roman art makes sense. Roman politics for the most part makes sense to us. Roman religion -- eh, not so much I guess.

In contrast, we share almost nothing with ancient Hebrews. What do modern Americans know about agrarian or pastoral life? The Hebrews were not interested in engineering and technology, they freely adopted whatever they could from conquering or conquered neighbors. As a result, their art and architecture is undistinguished. About the only thing of theirs that we do understand, at least to some degree, is their religion, which we adapted to our own modern western culture. St John's metaphor of the good shepherd is an excellent example. Unless we have some idea of pastoral living, it makes the Good Shepherd sound like a thoughtful pet owner. Good for him!

More specifically addressing Genesis, I think most modern scholars accept that much of the book was an oral history that wasn't written for perhaps a couple thousand years. We can't even agree on a story concerning Dubyuh, wonder what it would look like after 2,000 years of mouth-to-ear-to-mouth transmission! The oral tale itself has elements that most scholars attribute to the Exile, when the defeated Hebrews were sent to Babylon for a couple of generations. Evidently the Babylonian metaphors sneaked under the tent. Thus, the different creation myths of chapters 1 and 2. Chapter 1 is all Hebrew, Chapter 2 is Babylonian-Hebrew. Also the frequent polytheistic references in Genesis. Thus, a story thousands of years and culturally dissimilar became part of the canon. How? When the Babylonian Jews returned they forced the unexiled Jews to adopt the exiled Jews wholly scripture, which had an urban/polytheistic bias, and abandon their earlier strictly monotheistic, pastoral/agrarian bias.

In closing, I have to say it amuses me to hear people sometimes argue that the Bible is literally true. When demonstrated that the Bible is itself, an amalgamated text from a variety of competing cultures and shot through with inexplicable anachronisms, they place the problem squarely on the shoulders of the scholars who have, since the Reformation, been struggling to produce the most accurate possible interpretation of those ancient texts. Modern literalists, literally don't know what they are talking about.

B
I understand, Thank you for a thoughtful, even educational response. So you're more forgiving than me. Fine. We essentially agree that the OT is not true (literal), though I think you should expect some argument on that point (not from me). If it is not true, and if it is to be considered a culturally significant compilation in a similar light to the works of Homer, then we are still on the same track, more or less. Tell me then, why should one work be considered holy or sacred if not the other?

Wait, I think I know the answer.

Tradition.

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post #178 of 186 (permalink) Old 06-01-2009, 01:24 PM
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German
Maybe we ALL are too incoherent to discern God. That's why He wrote the book?
If you think you can understand the mind of God, I would say that is pretty arrogant, if that is the case. I doubt you would admit to that, so the point is mute.
I don't need to defend Him, since he can handle himself (ya think?).

That said, I know of 3 theories of theology which explain the timeline of Gen 1.
2 meet scientific muster, the 3rd makes science bend on time theories.
1 theory doesn't even say the earth and cosmos creation was talked about, since the hebrew words for Heavens and Earth, translate sky and land, and if continued reading through the 1st part of Genesis, the location of the proposed creation is around 3 rivers, near the "promise land".

Now I am not claiming knowledge of which is correct, and there are other theories I am sure, but to state Genesis is incorrect, is a little presumptive.

Understood, you don't understand!

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post #179 of 186 (permalink) Old 06-01-2009, 01:39 PM
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I understand, Thank you for a thoughtful, even educational response. So you're more forgiving than me. Fine. We essentially agree that the OT is not true (literal), though I think you should expect some argument on that point (not from me). If it is not true, and if it is to be considered a culturally significant compilation in a similar light to the works of Homer, then we are still on the same track, more or less. Tell me then, why should one work be considered holy or sacred if not the other?

Wait, I think I know the answer.

Tradition.
I think you ask a question that the early pagan critics of Judaism & Christianity found most puzzling. They did not have tradition of holy scripture. They struggled hard to understand why anybody who claimed to be a monotheist could empower mere parchment with mystical powers. I think it was Celsus who argued that Judaism and even more so with Christianity, ... that these were not rational religions but a sort of superstition. they didn't require reason to understand them, they required faith. But (argued Celsus) faith without reason is mere superstition. So there was no reason to confer state recognition on a mere superstition. Further, he defended paganism by saying that no worshiper believes that idols are the physical manifestation of god. Nor did anybody but the most uneducated and superstition among them believe that there were anthropomorphic gods dabbling in people's lives. Celsus argued that the idols & sacrifices were public piety necessary for the smooth operation of the state but that rational men knew that the gods were not as humans describe them, mere anthropomorphisms.

Celsus' actual tractate no longer exists (or is not known to exist). It's arguments and so forth are known through reference by Christian apologists of the day, especially Origen. I haven't read it, but I did read a fascinating book entitled, The Christians as the Romans Saw Them" by Robert Wilken. I have probably butchered Wilken's excellent writing and analysis. I welcome corrections and apologize for errors.

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post #180 of 186 (permalink) Old 06-01-2009, 01:45 PM
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Everything must evolve to remain relevant, the Bible is no exception.
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