FRDB Archives

Freethought & Rationalism Archive

The archives are read only.


Go Back   FRDB Archives > Archives > Biblical Criticism - 2001
Welcome, Peter Kirby.
You last visited: Today at 05:55 AM

Notices

 
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 08-10-2001, 06:01 PM   #11
Peter Kirby
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: the reliquary of Ockham's razor
Posts: 4,035
Post

Quote:
Originally posted by Nomad:
<STRONG>
The problem is that we do not have any evidence that Jesus did believe in Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch.
</STRONG>
Hello,

I wonder what you make of these passages.

Mark 12:26. "Now about the dead rising--have you not read in the book of Moses, in the account of the bush, how God said to him, `I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'?"

Luke 20:37. "But in the account of the bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord `the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.'"

This is clearly a reference to Ex 3:6. So at least part of the Pentateuch was written by Moses, according to Jesus in the canonical gospels.

John 5:46. "If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me."

Presumably this is a reference to more than just the ten commandments.

There are also many occasions in the canonical gospels in which Jesus refers to the directives of Moses.

best,
Peter Kirby
http://home.earthlink.net/~kirby/writings/
Peter Kirby is online now   Edit/Delete Message
Old 08-10-2001, 06:10 PM   #12
James Still
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Pacific Northwest (US)
Posts: 527
Post

It would be incredible to believe that Jesus did not hold to Mosaic authorship of the Torah. However, he didn't know then what we know now so we shouldn't hold it against him.
James Still is offline  
Old 08-10-2001, 09:57 PM   #13
Nomad
Regular Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Calgary, AB, Canada
Posts: 410
Post

Quote:
Originally posted by Apikorus:

Nomad, indeed I meant to ask whether one could reject divine inspiration of the Hebrew Bible and still be a Christian. Sorry if I misspoke. If I read you correctly you are saying that one must accept that the Hebrew Bible was at least in part divinely inspired in order to be a Christian.
Again I must speak only from an orthodox point of view (since it is the only one that I will defend), but it is accepted that the entire Canonical Bible is inspired by God. What that does not mean is that everything contained in the Bible is literally true.

Quote:
Must he also insist that all other texts (e.g. Gilgamesh, Atrahasis, Enuma Elish) are *not* divinely inspired?
No. These can be classed as pagan mythology, and non-Canonical Christian works can be classed as, well, non-Canonical.

BTW, this does not make them automatically false in every one of their details either. Such a carte blanche rejection of these works (or any others, would be pretty naive).

Quote:
Must every chapter of the Hebrew Bible be divinely inspired?
Yes. Acceptance of divine inspiration was the central criteria for deeming a work to be Canonical in the first place.

Quote:
...Do you have to believe Jesus to have been inerrant about historical matters to have been divine?
Yes.

Quote:
Or could he have been imbued with "spiritual" divinity alone? Perhaps there are gradations to divinity?!
No, there are no gradations of divinity. I would refer you to the Athanasian Creed in particular to clarify the Christian view of Jesus' divinity.

Quote:
(Do you think that Jesus necessarily knew about the future as well?
Yes He did, although He tells us that He does not know all things about the future, as knowledge of such things belongs to the Father alone.

Quote:
Did he think about quantum mechanics and the human genetic code?
I have no idea. But, then again, since all of these things were created through Him, I guess you could call Him the author of both.

Quote:
Honestly I am not trying to be irreverent to twit you.)
No sweat Apikorus. Out of curiousity, how familiar are you with orthodox Christian theology?

Quote:
I happen to find this an interesting line of questioning because critical scholarship provides a kind of bridge on which we all can meet. Many of the greatest bible scholars have been religious Jews, Catholics, and Protestants. Some really brilliant thinking along these lines has been carried out by Jon Levenson in his book of essays "The Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament, and Historical Criticism".
Thanks for the discussion. I must admit, I have not studied the Original Testament as much as I have studied the Second, and would definitely like to learn more about it. I have learned a fair bit from the Jews for Judaism, and also recently read a very good book from Richard Elliot Friedman called Who Wrote the Bible?. I did find the title curious, however, since he only really discussed the Pentateuch and history books.

My original questin remains, however: Do you accept current scholarly opinion on what is historical in the Hebrew Bible, and what is not to be fact, or simply the best opinion available to us to date given the evidence we have uncovered thus far?

Peace,

Nomad

[ August 10, 2001: Message edited by: Nomad ]
Nomad is offline  
Old 08-10-2001, 10:11 PM   #14
Nomad
Regular Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Calgary, AB, Canada
Posts: 410
Post

Quote:
Originally posted by peterkirby:

I wonder what you make of these passages.

Mark 12:26. "Now about the dead rising--have you not read in the book of Moses, in the account of the bush, how God said to him, `I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'?"
Even today it is common to refer to the Torah as the Book of Moses. It certainly helps to identify what one is talking about, given that the names Genesis, Exodus, ect is a relatively modern invention.

Quote:
Luke 20:37. "But in the account of the bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord `the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.'"
This is not about authorship, but about what Moses did.

Quote:
This is clearly a reference to Ex 3:6. So at least part of the Pentateuch was written by Moses, according to Jesus in the canonical gospels.
Of course a part of the Pentateuch was written by Moses. He wrote the original laws and recorded them for us (Exodus 24:4, 34:28, Deuteronomy 31:9, 22). Given that he was raised in a royal household as a son of the pharoah, it would have been astonishing if he had not written anything down during his life time.

Quote:
John 5:46. "If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me."
Hmmm... have you become a literalist Peter?

Just kidding. But assuming that Jesus did actually say this, I still do not see the problem. Moses was the greatest of the Hebrew prophets, and it is entirely plausible that he did write something down for the people to read, including prophecies about the coming of the Messiah.

Now, an interesting question raises itself: it was not uncommon for the ancients to view writings as having come from their rulers, even though it was well known that the ruler himself did not author the work. Would you apply modern prejudices in such matters, or would you accept that Jesus would have chosen to speak to his audience in a language and manner that would have been comprehensible to them for that period of time?

Quote:
Presumably this is a reference to more than just the ten commandments.
Of course. Refer to the passages I have cited above. Moses is thought to have written a great deal.

Quote:
There are also many occasions in the canonical gospels in which Jesus refers to the directives of Moses.
Agreed.

Thanks for your contribution Peter. I still hope to get to the discussion of Lucan theology. My time has been extremely limited this past month, but hopefully will have freed up somewhat now.

Be well,

Nomad
Nomad is offline  
Old 08-10-2001, 10:19 PM   #15
Nomad
Regular Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Calgary, AB, Canada
Posts: 410
Post

Quote:
Originally posted by Apikorus:

There may be no historical methods to assess whether Jesus was born of a virgin, but there certainly are methods to assess if he was not. (E.g. if there were texts, deemed reliable, which discussed Jesus' early childhood and revealed that he had older siblings. Of course this is wildly hypothetical and intended only for illustrative purposes.)
Not to step on Bede's response here, but just to let you know, it is the view of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches that Jesus ONLY had older siblings, all born to Joseph by a first wife. Mary had only one child, according to this doctrine, and that was Jesus.

I am Lutheran, and this question is treated as open (IOW, we can accept or reject the teaching of Mary, Ever the Virgin). Luther himself believed it, and I have increasingly come to accept that it may well have been true.

Quote:
Similarly, that Jesus was resurrected bodily is perhaps a nonhistorical assertion, but if tomorrow a Roman account of Jesus' execution were discovered which revealed that his body was eaten by dogs (sorry if this offends; I think Crossan suggests this! again this is only for illustration), then historical methods once again intercede.
Just curious, but doesn't this point presuppose that the Roman account would be more true than the Christian accounts? After all, the early apologists were arguing with real people (like Celsus), and given the motivation to produce "evidence" in support of their pet theories, why would we assume that they would be less likely to generate it themselves than would the early Christians?

In other words, why trust the Romans in such a hypothetical scenario?

Quote:
It seems then that the creeds do carry with them some implicit historical assumptions.
Yes they do. Debunking any one of the Creeds would do serious damage to the Christian faith. It certainly explains why some have attempted to do this, at least since the Arians.

Nomad
Nomad is offline  
Old 08-10-2001, 11:58 PM   #16
Apikorus
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Chicago
Posts: 1,396
Post

Nomad, a few points:

1) Of course I meant the possible existence of documentation that Jesus had older siblings through from his mother. Whether Mary had any children after Jesus may be a matter of doctrinal relevance to some Christians, but I'm not particularly interested.

2) If my hypothetical source for Jesus' body being eaten by dogs were a contemporary Roman legal document (somehow, say), I'd feel pretty secure about it. Legal records tend to be fairly reliable and unembellished, since courts are generally rather meticulous. Hagiographies, such as the gospel accounts, far less so.

3) I was aware of all the creeds you cited but it had been years since I read the Athanasian creed. I must say I find this trinity business utterly incoherent, and I've never met a single person who could explain it to me in compelling fashion. Perhaps as a consequence I can't reconcile two of your remarks. You insist that there are no gradations of divinity (as the AC also says), but you also allow that there are some things which belong "to the Father alone." Could knowledge that Moses didn't write the Pentateuch be an example of knowledge that belonged exclusively to the Father? I still don't see why Jesus must be presumed inerrant on historical issues.

4) When I asked if you must believe that other texts such as Atrahasis are not divine, you responded negatively (suggesting that you would allow the possibility that parts of Atrahasis were divinely inspired). Could you clarify your response?

5) "Who Wrote the Bible?" is an outstanding popular introduction to modern critical bible scholarship. I agree that Friedman doesn't discuss the authorship of Habakkuk, but I guess that the title "Who Wrote the Pentateuch and the Deuteronomistic History?" might have been rejected by the savvy editors at Harper and Row.

6) The Hebrew Bible is vast. If you tell me what in particular interests you, I can recommend several books and/or articles (do you have access to a good library?).

7) Your question about my acceptance of "scholarly opinion on what is historical" is a little naive, perhaps. (No offense intended! I'd readily admit I must be naive in my understanding of the creeds.) As I told you, I happen to believe every one of the points I mentioned in my opening post. I think Moses is as historical a figure as Odysseus. But of course bible criticism and ancient history are not Physics. We can't perform experiments to test theories; the best we can do is to make strong and informed arguments which fit most of the available data. Hence it is often quite impossible to say what is "fact". Even the archaeological record is subject to more interpretation than the average enthusiast would think. At any rate, if you ask me something very specific such as whether I believe that Exodus 34 is a late redactional composition which presupposes Deuteronomy and the Covenant Code, I'd say "probably". If you ask whether Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt and wrote the Pentateuch, I'd say "with near certainty, no".

8) One of the reasons I am particularly interested in liberal Christian views is that liberals are willing to bend the rules and reinterpret doctrine. The response of Orthodox Christians to modern critical scholarship may be intelligent and perhaps at times compelling, but generally it is defensive and reactive. Liberals are more creative, and the creative angle interests me.

[ August 11, 2001: Message edited by: Apikorus ]
Apikorus is offline  
Old 08-13-2001, 05:21 AM   #17
Bede
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Post

Apikorus,

You are absolutely right that the creeds could be disproved. If the creeds mentioned a young earth then I'd have a problem and if they said Adam and Eve were the first people I'd have a problem there too. But the creeds don't in fact say anything of the sort. As they have been the foundation of orthodoxy since they were formulated (inerrancy being a modern idea) I don't think I'm changing the rules here.

That said, I'm intrigued by this comment:
Quote:
One of the reasons I am particularly interested in liberal Christian views is that liberals are willing to bend the rules and reinterpret doctrine.
One of the many accusations that we Christians hear from atheists (and especially scientific supremacists) is that we continue to insist on adhering to some ancient coda while they learn from experience and change their views in the light of evidence. When we Christians do change they then try and beat us with this too as if we aren't playing our part in the game.

Of course, the idea that religions never change is a hopeless strawman and I know you don't believe that, but your comment above does suggest that somehow you feel us liberals 'ought' not to amend our beliefs in the light of new evidence. 'Bending the rules' is a phrase that could be considered perjurative.

Essentially, I will change my beliefs to cater for new evidence but I won't simply chuck the whole lot in because there are some problems. Like the in the history of science, we find that the old theory is always amended if possible before being chucked away. And that only happens when a better theory is available which, in the case of my religion, it is not.

Yours

Bede

Bede's Library - faith and reason
 
Old 08-13-2001, 09:08 AM   #18
Apikorus
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Chicago
Posts: 1,396
Post

Do I think it hypocritical for liberal theists to reinterpret religious doctrine? Not at all, Bede. In fact I view religious innovation quite favorably when it is an enlightened response to contemporary reality. For example, the rabbis who wrote the Mishnah and the Talmuds often revised or reinterpreted laws from the Torah so as to make them practical and humane. E.g. the Torah says that a child who strikes his parents must be killed, but the rabbis "clarified" this law in such a way as to render it virtually impossible to impose. Similarly liberal Muslim jurists of the 11th and 12th centuries reinterpreted and softened some of the harsher elements of the Sharia which they inherited. An example from Christianity: the Catholic Church removed the effectively antisemitic "His blood be upon us and our children" from the liturgy with the Vatican II reforms. Modern liberal Catholics are inclined to interpret this line from Matthew in a more inclusive way, extending the blame beyond Jews (e.g. we all kill Christ a little when we sin, etc.).

[ August 13, 2001: Message edited by: Apikorus ]
Apikorus is offline  
Old 08-13-2001, 11:02 AM   #19
Toto
Contributor
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Los Angeles area
Posts: 40,549
Post

Quote:
Originally posted by Bede:
<STRONG>

One of the many accusations that we Christians hear from atheists (and especially scientific supremacists) is that we continue to insist on adhering to some ancient coda while they learn from experience and change their views in the light of evidence. When we Christians do change they then try and beat us with this too as if we aren't playing our part in the game. . .
</STRONG>
You're just not willing to change enough.

Once you start down that slippery slope of admitting that it is possible to change, you just have to keep going. Eventually, if you are honest or brave enough, you realize that the god of the Bible cannot exist, that god is not necessary to explain creation, that it is possible to live a good live without Christianity, and the whole house of cards collapses.
Toto is offline  
Old 08-13-2001, 11:24 AM   #20
Bede
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Unhappy

Quote:
You're just not willing to change enough.
We do change Toto. Apikorus has just mentioned examples and there are many more. You simply made some assertions which I think are wrong and then accused me of not changing because I don't agree with you. It's not a very clever line of argument and you can do better than that.

B
 
 

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:28 PM.

Top

This custom BB emulates vBulletin® Version 3.8.2
Copyright ©2000 - 2015, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.