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Old 08-14-2001, 11:00 AM   #31
Apikorus
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Nomad, when you write, "Given that [Moses] was raised in a royal household as a son of pharaoh, it would have been astonishing if he had not written down anything during his lifetime", you are engaging in circular reasoning, using the Bible to prove the Bible. It is equivalent to saying, "Given that Queen Guinevere had banished one of Morgan le Fay's lovers from Camelot, it is only natural that Morgan should have sent the Green Knight to frighten her."

On a second issue, in my view there is no coherent messianic framework established in the Hebrew Bible and almost nothing remotely messianic to be found in all of Genesis. Certainly messianic allusions were imposed on various passages, but this was a rather late innovation, beginning in the late Hellenistic and Roman periods. An excellent book on the subject is John Collins' "The Scepter and the Star".

Finally, regarding your responses to my questions, I am grateful for your thoughtful remarks. I'm curious about the consequences of progressive revelation, especially if it involves rescinding earlier divine decrees. The problem seems to be articulated in the Bible itself: "And also I gave them statutes that were not good, and laws by which they could not live." (Ezekiel 20:25). What, then, if anything, can be regarded as a permanent and universal divine truth? If God allows that he imposed defective regulations at one time, how do we know that the laws we live by today are good? Could it be that faith in Jesus is yet another example of "chukim lo tovim" (no good statutes)? Is it conceivable that God might reveal himself to a Buddhist monk in a way which obviates and supersedes the New Testament?

[ August 14, 2001: Message edited by: Apikorus ]
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Old 08-14-2001, 12:54 PM   #32
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Quote:
Originally posted by Apikorus:

Nomad, when you write, "Given that [Moses] was raised in a royal household as a son of pharaoh, it would have been astonishing if he had not written down anything during his lifetime", you are engaging in circular reasoning, using the Bible to prove the Bible. It is equivalent to saying, "Given that Queen Guinevere had banished one of Morgan le Fay's lovers from Camelot, it is only natural that Morgan should have sent the Green Knight to frighten her."
The problem with ancient historical studies, as you know, is that very often we are dependent upon single source information and evidence. Such is the nature of the beast. To me there is nothing extraordinary about a man being raised in a royal court, rebelling against that court, and leading a portion of people out of the country. As to how that happened, and whether or not all of the stories of his rebellion are true is beside the point, as we have no reliable means to test such an historical claim.

Personally, I see no more reason to doubt the existence of Moses than I do Alexander the Great, or Homer, or Socrates. I also see no reason to doubt that he was a member of the royal family at one time. Choosing to be sceptical about such things is an option of course, but a highly selective one in my view.

Quote:
On a second issue, in my view there is no coherent messianic framework established in the Hebrew Bible and almost nothing remotely messianic to be found in all of Genesis. Certainly messianic allusions were teased out of various passages, but this was a rather late innovation, beginning in the late Hellenistic and Roman periods. An excellent book on the subject is John Collins' "The Scepter and the Star".
Thanks for the reference Apikorus. I suppose we will simply have to agree to disagree here.

Quote:
Finally, regarding your responses to my questions, I am grateful for your thoughtful remarks. I'm curious about the consequences of progressive revelation, especially if it involves rescinding earlier divine decrees. The problem seems to be articulated in the Bible itself: "And also I gave them statutes that were not good, and laws by which they could not live." (Ezekiel 20:25). What, then, if anything, can be regarded as a permanent and universal divine truth? If God allows that he imposed defective regulations at one time, how do we know that the laws we live by today are good?
First, your quotation is taken out of context (much the same way as is Isaiah 45:7 in other discussions that I have had with sceptics). Here is the context for Ezekiel:

Ezekiel 25:23-26 (RSV) Moreover I swore to them in the wilderness that I would scatter them among the nations and disperse them through the countries, because they had not executed my ordinances, but had rejected my statutes and profaned my sabbaths, and their eyes were set on their fathers' idols. Moreover I gave them statutes that were not good and ordinances by which they could not have life; and I defiled them through their very gifts in making them offer by fire all their first-born, that I might horrify them; I did it that they might know that I am the LORD.

As you can see, God has handed the Jewish people over to their own wickedness, allowing them to sacrifice their own children to false gods, thus making them see the evil of their rebellion. In so doing, they came to see their sin, and then they could repent.

In both the Jewish and Christian tradition, God is omnipotent, and nothing can happen without His permission. Yet, just because He allows a thing to happen, He is not the author of the evil being done, nor of the bad laws being made. I think the NIV does a better job of translating this passage, when it tells us I also gave them over to statutes that were not good and laws they could not live by;.

A similar story can be found in 1 Chronicles 21:1 and 2 Samuel 24:1, where in the first story it is Satan that causes David to defy God and call a census, while in Samuel we are told that it is God Himself that does incites David to call the census because the anger of the Lord burned against Israel. In both cases it is shown that it is God's sovereign will that is in action, and nothing takes place except by His will. This is a consistent theme throughout the Bible.

Isaiah 46:8-10 "Remember this and consider, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,'

Now, as to progressive revelation being true, I think that the Bible, and human nature itself demonstrates that this is, indeed the case. As we are made in His image, we can derive much of His nature by observing that which is holy within us.

Clearly God does things through a progressive means, rarely taking the shortest or easiest or most expedient route to achieve His ends. Thus, God meets us where we are at, at this moment in time, individually and corporately, never expecting more from us that we can give, nor testing us beyond our strength to endure. Just as I do not place the same demands upon my one year old son as I do my seven year old, God does not make demands upon people that are beyond their ability to fulfill.

Quote:
Could it be that faith in Jesus is yet another example of "chukim lo tovim" (no good statutes)? Is it conceivable that God might reveal himself to a Buddhist monk in a way which obviates and supersedes the New Testament?
No. In the case of the sending of His only Son as the one perfect and eternal atoning sacrifice for our sins, all is done. This is not a statute, but a final act of God that has now redeemed the whole world by His grace and sovereign will. Further revelations would, at most, be mere expansions on this theme and plan, and then only minor ones. The commands from God have been, and remain, at their core unchanged, as there are only two of them:

Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, your mind and your soul (Deuteronomy 6:5, Matt. 22:37 among others).

Love your neighbour as yourself. (Leviticus 19:18, Mark 12:33, Galatians 5:14, James 2:8 among others).

Upon these two laws, all others are fixed. They have not, and will not change, we cannot escape them, nor should we wish to.

Peace,

Nomad
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Old 08-14-2001, 01:07 PM   #33
hezekiah jones
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Quote:
Originally posted by Nomad:
As you can see, God has handed the Jewish people over to their own wickedness, allowing them to sacrifice their own children to false gods, thus making them see the evil of their rebellion. In so doing, they came to see their sin, and then they could repent.
Pardon me for interrupting, but I must say, the above is one of the most extravagantly patronizing examples of christian-inanity that I have ever seen on this website. In fact, it is bordering on anti-Semitism.

I never cease to be astounded at the lengths to which "christians" will go in their miserable attempts to justify their self-righteous, needless, and irrationally inflated sense of self-worth and anti-humanism.

I'm sorry, but you are an adherent of a singularly despicable religion. However I thank you for reinforcing my unspeakable revulsion at your disgraceful dogma.

<tasteless expletive removed>

[ August 14, 2001: Message edited by: hezekiahjones ]
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Old 08-14-2001, 01:55 PM   #34
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Nomad:
Good to see you back Lauren. If I may, is a Fundie like a nigger, or a Spic, or a Chink?

LP:
This honky gringo round-eye won't comment any further.

As Dennis McKinsey has pointed out in his Biblical Errancy newsletter, trying to debate non-Fundies is like trying to nail jello to a tree. One has to be careful to find out in advance exactly what their position is, because their rejection of Biblical literalism enables them to take what they like and leave what they don't like.

LP:
The names "Genesis", "Exodus", etc. were coined in the Septuagint translation; is that translation a "modern invention"?

Nomad:
Yes.

LP:
Calling the Septuagint a "modern invention" is a big joke; I wonder if Nomad is really serious about that.

Nomad:
Of course a part of the Pentateuch was written by Moses. ...

LP:
However, those could be some later generations putting words into his mouth

Nomad:
So? What is your evidence? Might haves, and could haves are interesting, but tell us nothing.

LP:
Nomad, you then go on to claim that exactly that had been a common practice.

LP:
There is a heck of a lot that could be revealed in the Bible that wasn't.

Nomad:
So? Are any of the things you list theoligically or morally important?

What problems? That the Bible doesn't talk about science? I assume that you are joking here, since I cannot imagine why you think that your points are serious.

LP:
The Bible is rather short on disclaimers to that effect.

Apikorus:
... you are engaging in circular reasoning, using the Bible to prove the Bible. ...

Nomad::
The problem with ancient historical studies, as you know, is that very often we are dependent upon single source information and evidence. Such is the nature of the beast.

LP:
So what? Does that justify being completely credulous? Does one believe Soviet histories that imply that Leon Trotsky had been a nobody in the Russian Revolution?

Nomad:
To me there is nothing extraordinary about a man being raised in a royal court, rebelling against that court, and leading a portion of people out of the country. ...

LP:
Except that that is not something that often happens. In fact, I suspect that someone with such an origin would be ashamed of it.

Nomad:
Personally, I see no more reason to doubt the existence of Moses than I do Alexander the Great, or Homer, or Socrates. I also see no reason to doubt that he was a member of the royal family at one time. Choosing to be sceptical about such things is an option of course, but a highly selective one in my view.

LP:
I think otherwise.

Apikoros:
Could it be that faith in Jesus is yet another example of "chukim lo tovim" (no good statutes)? Is it conceivable that God might reveal himself to a Buddhist monk in a way which obviates and supersedes the New Testament?

Nomad:
No. In the case of the sending of His only Son as the one perfect and eternal atoning sacrifice for our sins, all is done. This is not a statute, but a final act of God that has now redeemed the whole world by His grace and sovereign will. Further revelations would, at most, be mere expansions on this theme and plan, and then only minor ones.

LP:
However, what Apikoros proposes is not much different from what Muslims believe; Muslims recognize Jesus Christ and various Old Testament figures as predecessor prophets, but they believe that a greater one has come: Mohammed.

Nomad:
The commands from God have been, and remain, at their core unchanged, as there are only two of them:

Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, your mind and your soul (Deuteronomy 6:5, Matt. 22:37 among others).

Love your neighbour as yourself. (Leviticus 19:18, Mark 12:33, Galatians 5:14, James 2:8 among others).

LP:
Thus making the various sets of Ten Commandments and the rest of the "Law of Moses" superfluous; Jesus Christ himself was depicted as saying that one could break the Sabbath one if one really had to.
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Old 08-14-2001, 02:08 PM   #35
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Quote:
Originally posted by hezekiahjones:

Pardon me for interrupting, but I must say, the above is one of the most extravagantly patronizing examples of christian-inanity that I have ever seen on this website. In fact, it is bordering on anti-Semitism.
Hmmm... have you ever spoken to a Jew about how they view these passages (and others like them in the Hebrew Bible)?

You may view the Hebrew Scriptures as anti-Semitic, but my understanding is that Jews do not do this.

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Old 08-14-2001, 02:25 PM   #36
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Quote:
Originally posted by lpetrich:

As Dennis McKinsey has pointed out in his Biblical Errancy newsletter, trying to debate non-Fundies is like trying to nail jello to a tree. One has to be careful to find out in advance exactly what their position is, because their rejection of Biblical literalism enables them to take what they like and leave what they don't like.
On the other hand, perhaps you and Dennis could consider looking at the long tradition of how orthodox Christian theology is actually formed, rather than arguing against a strawman presentation of our faith put forward by the more fundamentalist and literalist denominations that arose in the United States in the last 170 years.

If, on the other hand, you wish to only debate these later day Christians, then such is your right. As I have said many times before, however, I am personally not interested in defending those views.

Quote:
Nomad: So? Are any of the things you list theoligically or morally important?
What problems? That the Bible doesn't talk about science? I assume that you are joking here, since I cannot imagine why you think that your points are serious.

LP:The Bible is rather short on disclaimers to that effect.
I still do not see why the Bible should be expected to talk about science. Do science books talk about theology and metaphysics? Does their failure to do this make them invalid in some fashion?

Quote:
Apikorus: ... you are engaging in circular reasoning, using the Bible to prove the Bible. ...

Nomad: The problem with ancient historical studies, as you know, is that very often we are dependent upon single source information and evidence. Such is the nature of the beast.

LP: So what? Does that justify being completely credulous? Does one believe Soviet histories that imply that Leon Trotsky had been a nobody in the Russian Revolution?
Of course we do not have to be credulous. We examine what we know from ancient documents against any other evidence avaible to us. I find it interesting that your own example is not from the ancients, but is really quite modern. Now, do you have any evidence that causes you to doubt that Moses existed? Or is your belief rooted in speculation alone?

Quote:
Nomad: To me there is nothing extraordinary about a man being raised in a royal court, rebelling against that court, and leading a portion of people out of the country. ...

LP: Except that that is not something that often happens. In fact, I suspect that someone with such an origin would be ashamed of it.
It is the nature of historical events to be singularities. This does not invalidate that they happened. After all, everything in history only happened once. That said, fallen princes have been known to rebel in the past.

Quote:
Nomad: Personally, I see no more reason to doubt the existence of Moses than I do Alexander the Great, or Homer, or Socrates. I also see no reason to doubt that he was a member of the royal family at one time. Choosing to be sceptical about such things is an option of course, but a highly selective one in my view.

LP: I think otherwise.
Why? As I said, this looks pretty selective. Do you accept the existence of Homer and Socrates? How about Hannibal?

Quote:
Nomad: No. In the case of the sending of His only Son as the one perfect and eternal atoning sacrifice for our sins, all is done. This is not a statute, but a final act of God that has now redeemed the whole world by His grace and sovereign will. Further revelations would, at most, be mere expansions on this theme and plan, and then only minor ones.

LP: However, what Apikoros proposes is not much different from what Muslims believe; Muslims recognize Jesus Christ and various Old Testament figures as predecessor prophets, but they believe that a greater one has come: Mohammed.
I knew this. Thank you. But I believe that Apikorus was asking for my opinion, and I gave it. I believe that it reflects Christian teachings, so I hope that you are not criticizing me for offering my answer.

Quote:
Nomad: The commands from God have been, and remain, at their core unchanged, as there are only two of them:

Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, your mind and your soul (Deuteronomy 6:5, Matt. 22:37 among others).
Love your neighbour as yourself. (Leviticus 19:18, Mark 12:33, Galatians 5:14, James 2:8 among others).

LP: Thus making the various sets of Ten Commandments and the rest of the "Law of Moses" superfluous; Jesus Christ himself was depicted as saying that one could break the Sabbath one if one really had to.
We have been freed from condemnation under the Law by the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross. This does not make the Law superfluous, it means that they have been fulfilled, and we have been freed from the curse of our sinful nature. It also means that having been made His children, we are expected to conform ourselves to those laws, and to accept that God intends to make us perfect.

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Old 08-14-2001, 02:46 PM   #37
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As a Jew and an avid student of the Hebrew Bible and Jewish history, I also winced a bit at Nomad's characterization of the "Jewish people" being given over to their own "wickedness". But this is a tricky issue which deserves some comment.

First of all, I think it would be very wrong to assume that Nomad harbors any antisemitic sentiments. In fact, his remarks in his own defense are quite appropriate: we Jews do often attribute tragedies which have befallen us to "the sins of the Jewish people". However, it is not clear that Jews and Christians have the same things in mind when they refer to these "sins".

I think it would have been a better choice of words had Nomad instead referred to the wickedness of the "Israelites", since that would more properly contextualize the passages in Ezekiel. Reference to the wickedness of "the Jewish people" naturally evokes antisemitic imagery and might be misconstrued as a supercessionist criticism extending to contemporary Jews for their failure to accept Christian claims regarding Jesus. I doubt that Nomad meant it that way.

Nomad's remarks touch on a very interesting and sensitive point, though, which is the nature of Christian antisemitism and identification of antisemitic passages in the New Testament. As Nomad properly points out, the Hebrew Bible itself is filled with sectarian polemic, yet obviously it would be absurd to claim it is an antisemitic document. Most of these polemical passages in the Hebrew Bible were written from a particular point of view - usually that of the Jerusalem priestly establishment - and they are often sharply critical of what their authors perceive as aberrant expressions of Israelite worship. Another example of sectarian polemic can be found in the writings of the Qumran sect, which was bitterly opposed to the Temple authorities in Jerusalem.

Given that many of the New Testament authors were Jewish (e.g. Matthew, John (but not his redactor), Paul), it is perhaps anachronistic to automatically assume that all "anti-Jewish" passages in the NT are necessarily antisemitic. This is a complex issue. I happen to believe that most such passages are better understood as sectarian polemic similar to that found in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Hebrew Bible itself, though I also believe that a few truly antisemitic passages have crept in through the redactional process.

My general view is that as Christianity failed among the Jews but succeeded wildly within the Hellenistic world, many of these sectarian NT passages were reinterpreted by Orthodox Christians (and even moreso among the gnostics) in a truly antisemitic context. This is certainly the case with many of the Patristic authors (e.g. Irenaeus, Origen, Chrysostom, Justin Martyr), from whose writings one can adduce some disturbingly antisemitic remarks. This development was also contextualized by a preexisting Hellenistic antisemitism whose origins could be traced in part to Jewish-Hellenistic conflicts during the 2nd century BCE - the Hasmonean revolt against the Seleucids and the anti-Hellenistic actions of the Hasmonean dynasts (Hyrcanus I in particular).

[ August 14, 2001: Message edited by: Apikorus ]
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Old 08-14-2001, 02:52 PM   #38
hezekiah jones
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Quote:
Originally posted by Nomad:
Hmmm... have you ever spoken to a Jew about how they view these passages (and others like them in the Hebrew Bible)?
I beg your pardon! I was unaware of your apparently recent conversion to Judaism. Let me wish you a heartfelt and resounding Mazel Tov!

For some strange reason, I was under the evidently mistaken impression you were interpreting the concept of "repentance" from an exclusively Christian perspective.

Having extended my congratulations, I certainly hope that you aren't one of those "incomplete Jews" that require properly inspired, Christian interpretations of your own sacred scriptures in order to correctly discern their true meaning. Ah, but don't you already yearn for the unwavering guidance of the Holy Spirit?

Quote:
You may view the Hebrew Scriptures as anti-Semitic, but my understanding is that Jews do not do this.
Indeed. That would be odd, wouldn't it? And my understanding is that "repentance," at least in your newly discovered faith (once again, Mazel Tov!) entails the submission to a slightly less populated pantheon of divine beings. Unless of course you are a "completed Jew," by which of course I mean said pantheon further contains the person of a certain itinerant "Nazarite," as Shylock would say.

If this is the case, then the concept of "repentance" takes on an entirely different meaning, doesn't it? I sure hope you return to Jesus, because no one can come to the Father except through Him, remember?

<edited for spelling; sarcasm left intact>

[ August 14, 2001: Message edited by: hezekiahjones ]
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Old 08-14-2001, 03:08 PM   #39
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Quote:
Originally posted by Apikorus:
I think it would be very wrong to assume that Nomad harbors any antisemitic sentiments.
I certainly did not mean that, and I apologize, Nomad, if such an unintended personal slur was inadvertantly telegraphed.

My quarrel, in this particular case, is with what I see as the often gratuitously presumptuous interpretation of Hebrew scripture by Christians, and is purely an objection to what I find to be a somewhat ridiculous game of religious oneupmanship.

I am after all an atheist, and I am continually appalled at the segregation of humanity by what, in my opinion, is a meaningless and often destructive reliance on varying interpretations of "scripture" to create false divisions within the greater whole, which, ultimately, is all of us.
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Old 08-14-2001, 05:06 PM   #40
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Quote:
Originally posted by hezekiahjones:

My quarrel, in this particular case, is with what I see as the often gratuitously presumptuous interpretation of Hebrew scripture by Christians, and is purely an objection to what I find to be a somewhat ridiculous game of religious oneupmanship.
Let me get this straight. You wish to take issue with Christian interpretation of our own Scriptures because it somehow offends you??? I come here to answer questions, and to provide a Christian point of view. At the same time, I can read, and when I read Hebrew Scripture I see a good number of examples of God condemning His Chosen People for their actions and sins. This is in no way anti-Semitic. It is a simple acknowledgement of how God is presented in the Bible. If you do not like that presentation, then so be it, but then offer your own exegesis that shows how I have erred in my interpretation. Do not bandy about names, and accuse me of things for which I am not guilty.

Quote:
I am after all an atheist, and I am continually appalled at the segregation of humanity by what, in my opinion, is a meaningless and often destructive reliance on varying interpretations of "scripture" to create false divisions within the greater whole, which, ultimately, is all of us.
On the other hand, by trying to play the anti-Semite card with me, you have added to these divisions. Once again, I offer you the passages I quoted, and ask that you offer an interpretation that shows how I have erred in my understanding of the passage. Do not condemn that which you hate by becoming that very same thing.

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