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Old 09-11-2001, 05:08 AM   #21
excreationist
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I was looking for Jewish information on the snake story and I found this:

The Legends of the Jews - by Louis Ginzberg
Quote:
The serpent, too, is other than it was at first. Before the fall of man it was the cleverest of all animals created, and in form it resembled man closely. It stood upright, and was of extraordinary size.[185] Afterward, it lost the mental advantages it had possessed as compared with other animals, and it degenerated physically, too; it was deprived of its feet, so that it could not pursue other animals and kill them. The mole and the frog had to be made harmless in similar ways; the former has no eyes, else it were irresistible, and the frog has no teeth, else no animal in the water were sure of its life.[186]

While the cunning of the serpent wrought its own undoing, the cunning of the fox stood him in good stead in many an embarrassing situation. After Adam had committed the sin of disobedience, God delivered the whole of the animal world into the power of the Angel of Death...
So it seems that some of the early Jews, at least, believed that the story was about a snake (and not Satan).
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Old 09-11-2001, 09:53 AM   #22
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Interpretation is the key. Everyone seems to interpret parts of the Bible in different way.

You either believe the Bible is 100% true, or via interpretation, you run the risk of incorrectly picking and choosing truth out of it.....
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Old 09-11-2001, 11:37 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally posted by Boro Nut:
<STRONG>Oh you are so right. It was a lizard, and it was talking. What does that prove to you? I cannot explain further, as I am apt to make a fool of myself.David Icke</STRONG>
Too late.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a bible inerrantist here!

*APPLAUSE*

Since i thought the genesis story largely allegorical and thought perhaps i could play at being a theologian for once... and infer from the acute nature of the higher entities...

~Speaker 4 the Death of God~
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Old 09-11-2001, 10:45 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally posted by JohnClay:
If you look it Genesis, it appears that it involves one continuous story. Where do you think the metaphorical stories end and history begins in Genesis?
I think from Abraham onwards cannot be interpreted any other way than absolutely literally. Further back that that I think the stories get increasingly mythological. Be careful not to be too narrow minded: Something does not have to be either metaphorical or literal, there can be a huge number of shades of blending.

Quote:
Or maybe anything that sounds plausible is history, and anything that doesn't is just a metaphor?
I know you mean that sarcastically, but in really that is quite a good method. Mythology is self-declaring and you shouldn't be able to hear a myth without either realising that it is one, or noting that if you were to take it literally in its entirity then you couldn't take it seriously.

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I think some verses from Revelations is hardly evidence that the authors of Genesis meant the story of the fall to be taken metaphorically.
I really don't know what the authors of Genesis intended and I don't particularly care. It doesn't really matter whether they thought they were writing truth or not, what matters is how much literal truth they did write and how much that is mixed in with metaphors.
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Genesis 3:1 (GNB) says "Now the snake was the most cunning animal that the Lord God had made."
You're saying that that is just a metaphor. Perhaps the verse means that Satan is like a serpent, and traditionally people think serpents are pretty crafty.
Yes I would say the original literal story had Satan - the enemy of man and the most crafty of all creation in it. I would guess that as this was passed down from generation to generation it was at some stage combined with a "how the serpent lost its legs" folktale. The two combine rather naturally as snakes are crafty like Satan and are the enemy of man and Satan's punishment for inciting man to rebellion could be construed as the snake loosing its legs.
And finally we end up with the Adam and Eve story that made it into the Bible, a combination of literal history with a bit of metaphorising (I wouldn't be surprised if the two trees were metaphorical in a similar manner) and combining with already existing myth.
Quote:
In Luke 3:23-38, it lists the ancestors of Jesus. It lists every single ancestor, all the way back to Adam. His earliest ancestors are in the early chapters of Genesis, so it appears that this involves real history. Do you think that the list of Jesus's ancestors is an accurate list? Or is it a "metaphor"?
I consider such lists of ancestors to be literal. I believe in a literal Adam and Eve.

Quote:
Also, in Genesis, it lists a lot of figures - the ages of people when they had children and when they died. Some lived over 800 or 900 years. Is that list an extended metaphor? Why didn't it just say "they lived as long as the mountains" - why did they make up seemingly realistic/random/irregular ages?
The ages thing is a very good question. I don't really propose to know, but I believe we have a couple of (extra-biblical) pieces of ancient inscriptions which also assert large ages for people. So I would imagine that either it was the done thing at the time to alledge large (perhaps symbolic?) ages or that people really did live that long as hard as that may seem to accept.

Quote:
I guess you'll say that anything that sounds plausible isn't a metaphor and anything that doesn't sound realistic is a metaphor, or an exaggeration. But if you look at the style of Genesis, there isn't anything distinguishing the historical information from the "metaphors" or the exaggerations.
The Maori people have an ancient story of their ancestor Maui throwing a net over the sun and beating it until it agreed to slow down as previously it had been moving to fast across the sky. How do you determine how much of this story is literal, metaphorical or straight out false?

I am not trying to water down my beliefs here, I am merely trying to discern true fact from legend. One of the easy ways of doing that is to consider how possible it is that the alledged event really happened.
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Old 09-12-2001, 03:20 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally posted by Tercel:
<STRONG>...I really don't know what the authors of Genesis intended and I don't particularly care. It doesn't really matter whether they thought they were writing truth or not, what matters is how much literal truth they did write and how much that is mixed in with metaphors.
...
The Maori people have an ancient story of their ancestor Maui throwing a net over the sun and beating it until it agreed to slow down as previously it had been moving to fast across the sky. How do you determine how much of this story is literal, metaphorical or straight out false?

I am not trying to water down my beliefs here, I am merely trying to discern true fact from legend. One of the easy ways of doing that is to consider how possible it is that the alledged event really happened.</STRONG>
I think the Virgin birth and Jesus walking through walls and on water or feed 5000 men with some fishes and loaves are at least as unrealistic as the snake story. Are they just metaphors?
BTW, if there is a God who sent his son to save the souls of everyone, surely he could perform some miracles, and if he can't, surely he can guide writers to make the Bible clear enough to make it obvious which parts are metaphors and which parts aren't. Well the Bible has a lot of obvious metaphors in it, but I think that the start of Genesis isn't obviously a metaphor. If it was, then a majority of believers in the past and a large proportion in the present wouldn't take it literally.
I'd be interested in what your views on the miracles of Jesus that I've mentioned (are they literal?). Also, if a lot of the Bible is just a metaphor, maybe some of the non-miraculous parts are also metaphors. Perhaps Abraham didn't really have a wife, etc.
Also, what about Balaam's talking donkey (Numbers 22-24)? If a donkey can talk, surely a demon-possessed snake can.
What about the demon-possessed man and suicidal pigs? What about (in Daniel?) where a hand is seen writing things on the wall?
What about the burning bush that talked to Moses, or the parting of the red sea? Or the angel of death killing the first born?
So basically I'm saying that if God is real, surely he could do all those miracles or at least not let false stories circulate for so long (until liberal interpreters came along).
What about this?:
2 Kings 2:23-24 - "From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some youths came out of the town and jeered at him. "Go on up, you baldhead!" they said. "Go on up, you baldhead!"
He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths."

Now in Revelations, I think all the metaphors have a pretty clear meaning... e.g. they represent evil, etc.
So for all the events that I've listed that you believe are partial or total metaphors, could you explain what the lesson is. e.g. Perhaps Jesus walking through walls is a metaphor for God's omnipresence or something.

I'm interested in learning more about your views on the Bible...
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Old 09-12-2001, 08:46 AM   #26
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Well, I've not read every link posted in this thread so you'll please forgive me if I'm stating the already stated.

I see the talking snake and garden of Eden ideas as generally recalling an earlier time in human history in that area, perhaps others, where migrating humans encountered the kinds of situations we do today in the Galapagos, and formerly other places, now "humanized", where human hunter gatherers encountered indigenous wildlife with no natural fear of humans, something which could not occur in Africal where animals and humans coevolved.

Eden recalls these encounters in which animals and humans easily comingled. It's also possibly recalling early domestication of animals, something that would be quite easy, given the lack of a natural fear of humans in animals, such as would have ocurred in this areas of the globe.

As our human society evolved and more complex social structures developed, myths appeared. Eden is a kind of golden age where man was innocent and able to just be another one of the animals - along with some self serving embellishments of course. It really is a story about our memories of life before we became "civilized".

Why the snake or serpent? Perhaps because it represented animals which would not be domesticated or brought into man's service, but who's presence seemed to follow humans wherever they went.

Just some thoughts.

joe

[edited for spelling - I was hurrying!]

[ September 12, 2001: Message edited by: joedad ]
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Old 09-12-2001, 12:11 PM   #27
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The bible is all allegory unless otherwise stated such as in Jn.6:55 "My flesh is real food and my body is real drink." With these words religion ends in Pantheism where God and nature (real food and real drink) are one. It means that we must consume our equals to stay alive in a changing bilogical environment.

When Jesus walked on water, he proved that he could reason from intuition (intuition is the memory of of our soul and our soul is the celestial sea where they were fishing at that time, (right side of the boat is right side of the brain)).

When Jesus walked through the wall in the upper room he went from the conscious to the subconscious mind (upper room).

Feeding 5000 represents realization. "The mount" was a major epiphany and the 5000 were his own images of reality now purified into knowledge and understanding.

Revelation is triumphant and contains no evil. It is past judgement and describes the difference between heaven and earth and gives the various reason why people can't get to heaven. It is actually a comedy in which the triumphant rejoice in their victory while observing the folly of humanity and the suffering of souls down below.

Amos

[ September 12, 2001: Message edited by: Amos ]
 
Old 09-12-2001, 09:27 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally posted by JohnClay:
I think the Virgin birth and Jesus walking through walls and on water or feed 5000 men with some fishes and loaves are at least as unrealistic as the snake story. Are they just metaphors?
The difference is that they declare themselves miracles. The quite clearly declare themselves as powerful acts of God - which is literally possible. eg when Jesus walks on water the disciples are amazed and think they are seeing a ghost but then it is confirmed as really Jesus, and really a miracle. It demands a literal reading. If however the disciples had showed no suprise at Jesus walking on water and it was presented as no more spectatular than walking on land then I wouldn't even consider a literal interpretation. Such would demand a metaphorical interpretation or even to be declared outrightly false.

Can you see how the talking snake in Eden is different to this? Eve doesn't say "Wow a talking snake - that's impossible!". If read literally it demands a miraculous explanation, but the context does not provide one. Therefore it is non-literal.

Quote:
BTW, if there is a God who sent his son to save the souls of everyone, surely he could perform some miracles, and if he can't, surely he can guide writers to make the Bible clear enough to make it obvious which parts are metaphors and which parts aren't.
It is generally accepted that God did guide the writers of the Bible to some degree or another. I think in most cases, the literal/metaphor thing is pretty self-evident.

Quote:
Well the Bible has a lot of obvious metaphors in it, but I think that the start of Genesis isn't obviously a metaphor. If it was, then a majority of believers in the past and a large proportion in the present wouldn't take it literally.
The Young Earth Creationists/Fundamentalists are the only ones who take it literally. They represent only a tiny portion of modern Christianity in the world. Historically almost no one took the first part of Genesis literally. You will not find a Church writer who wrote over a few hundred years ago who believed in literal 24 hour creation days - they simply do not exist. Early Genesis was universally recognised as non-literal.

Quote:
I'd be interested in what your views on the miracles of Jesus that I've mentioned (are they literal?). Also, if a lot of the Bible is just a metaphor, maybe some of the non-miraculous parts are also metaphors. Perhaps Abraham didn't really have a wife, etc.
I don't think "a lot of the Bible is just a metaphor". I think Early Genesis contains some metaphors, and Revelation is full of them. That's about 1 and 1/8 of a book out of the 66 books in the Bible.

Quote:
Also, what about Balaam's talking donkey (Numbers 22-24)? If a donkey can talk, surely a demon-possessed snake can.
What about the demon-possessed man and suicidal pigs? What about (in Daniel?) where a hand is seen writing things on the wall?
What about the burning bush that talked to Moses, or the parting of the red sea? Or the angel of death killing the first born?
So basically I'm saying that if God is real, surely he could do all those miracles or at least not let false stories circulate for so long (until liberal interpreters came along).
Balaam I'm not sure about. It reads more like a story than like real history. -Balaam doesn't seem particularly suprised at his donkey talking to him.
The rest all are recognised in their context as miracles. As such they demand a literal reading.

Quote:
What about this?:
2 Kings 2:23-24 - "From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some youths came out of the town and jeered at him. "Go on up, you baldhead!" they said. "Go on up, you baldhead!"
He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths."
What about it? It looks pretty literal to me.

Quote:
Now in Revelations, I think all the metaphors have a pretty clear meaning... e.g. they represent evil, etc.
So for all the events that I've listed that you believe are partial or total metaphors, could you explain what the lesson is. e.g. Perhaps Jesus walking through walls is a metaphor for God's omnipresence or something.

I'm interested in learning more about your views on the Bible...
Sorry to disappoint you, but I only take sane views. If you want that sort of thing ask Amos or Offa.
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Old 09-12-2001, 10:54 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally posted by Tercel:
<STRONG>
It is generally accepted that God did guide the writers of the Bible to some degree or another.
. . .

</STRONG>
It is certainly not "generally accepted" on this board that God exists, much less that he/she/it guided the writers of the Bible. (And why would an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God inspire such a mess?)
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Old 09-13-2001, 02:06 AM   #30
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Ok, Tercel, that sounds somewhat consistent...
So you believe that a solid being (Thomas touched his wounds, etc) walked through walls, and 5000 men (and thousands of women) were fed with a few fishes and loaves with many baskets full of left-overs, etc. But that is reasonable since an all-powerful God can do anything.
What about in Genesis 7:21-23 where it says that every living thing on the earth died... does that mean the whole world, or just the world as it was known at the time. If it is only the known world, what if Jesus saving the world only meant the area of the world that was known at the time?
In Genesis 9:11-15 said that God would never destroy the earth in a flood again. If it was only a local flood, then he has broken his promise since we've had more local floods.
In Genesis 11 it says that the people of the whole world had one language and lived in one place and then almost built a tower that reached the sky and frightened/angered God. Is that an objective fact? Or is it a parable? - perhaps it means that global cooperation is bad and so is reaching the sky. (I guess God forgot to stop the space program.)
Quote:
Can you see how the talking snake in Eden is different to this? Eve doesn't say "Wow a talking snake - that's impossible!". If read literally it demands a miraculous explanation, but the context does not provide one. Therefore it is non-literal.
Well Eve had only existed a short time, and knew of voices in the sky, and that Adam talked, but didn't have the life experience to know that snakes don't usually talk. Other people who don't have much life experience, like children, can believe that toys or animals can talk. It takes many years to develop a realistic framework of reality.
Maybe the snake had spoken to them before. Anyway, just because the Bible didn't mention that they were surprised by seeing a talking snake doesn't mean that the whole thing is obviously meant to be a metaphor. Also, remember that Adam & Eve were very naive - they didn't even know the difference between good and evil or that they should be ashamed if they're naked.
What about 1 Timothy 2:13-14?
"For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner."
This sounds like the things in Genesis were literal. That Adam was created first, then Eve, then Eve was deceived, then Adam.
Do you believe that God literally created Adam and then Eve, from a rib? And if they weren't deceived by a snake, who were they deceived by? (A voice? A human?)

BTW, Genesis 6:3 says "I will not allow people to live for ever; they are mortal. From now on they will live no longer than a hundred and twenty years." This explains why people don't live very long any more, and interestingly, 120 years is about the natural limit for people. (Our bodies naturally start deteriorating after a while, until some animals/plants?)

Quote:
Originally posted by Tercel:
<STRONG>Sorry to disappoint you, but I only take sane views. If you want that sort of thing ask Amos or Offa.</STRONG>
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