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Some Thoughts About The Bible And God And Language


skyseeker
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Today I've wanted to post some thoughts about the bible, its historical account and how we can interpret it.

 

My main idea would be that the book of Genesis has a literal meaning that evokes a profound but ultimately unfactual image of history as it really happened.

 

My thought is, the story of Paradise might refer to a time when mankind, a highly evolved primate, discovered the spoken word as a means of communication. With that spoken word, mankind also developed a more tangible sense of God, although this God can also be seen as an inner witness of conscience. With finding the word, mankind went into Paradise, and in that Paradise mankind found its home - they understood they belonged there, especially now that they had found the word.

 

I must add that I am a believing christian, ie for me God really exists, and I'm trinitarian, ie God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I'm orthodox in many things of the faith.

 

But it really makes more sense to me to think of our history and about the bible in an anthropological way that also notes modern science and what it says.

 

Something similar as in Genesis happened in the account of Noah. I think it's about a time when mankind was approaching a new era where the idea of justice would come up, the idea of laws and courts of justice and all that. I think maybe factually this is about a priest in Mesopotamia, maybe even the priestking of a city. And he had such a clear conscience that he had some ancient concept of "human rights", and also "divine rights", and preached about them. And they didn't listen, Noah had a dream about a devastating flood, the flood (a local one) occured and he was able to save himself, his family, and some animals, and many of the people that hadn't listened or even maybe fought his preachings, died in the flood.

 

And again, the God comes in that I really believe in, and this God let many things like this Noah's Flood happen all around the globe, and this ushered in an era of thinking about justice not just in Mesopotamia alone but pretty much everywhere where men lived. Maybe one could say it was a spirit flood - something that came to our dreams, to the visions of the seers and shamans, even in pagan religions.

 

At that point I also see a connection of christian belief and the universal notion of God, in the story of Noah. The bible says one of the things God said to Noah, about human life and that He would punish it with taking the lives of those who have taken a human life. This is really describing also a consciousness that all of us possess - the vast majority of us has a dire and strict conscience about murder being totally wrong. It's like God is speaking that to all of us still, in every culture all around the globe. It's like the Arche Noah story has been shaken into us by our misfortunes in life and the tragedies we hear about, especially by earthquakes and famines and floods and all that. And we ALL help building our fleet of arks.

 

The most interesting for me here is the difference that I sometimes perceive from the way God expressed Himself to the jews, and how He might express and has expressed Himself to other people than the jews and later the christians. For example, Islam, when it's enlightened and reasonable, has something Noahidic to itself too. Zoroastrianism, even some parts of paganism are somewhat Noahidic, Manitou in North America, for example, or Quetzalcoatl in South America. It's like God send a Noah to every people and religion and culture, and implemented the conscientous fear and honor that said, "Do not kill!", and brought the rainbow with Him that said, "I won't destroy this world, see?", and "you can eat everything, even animals".

 

The Jesus element would be to enrich what has been given to all of us, with a greater sensibility for what else is in God's and in our human interest, and not to call this interest but our spiritual direction. There is a hell that awaits us if we don't do like Jesus said, ie cling to what saves us, this world is not undangerous. For an atheist that might be biology and diving into ethical thinking. For a muslim that might be following a benevolent idea of Allah.

 

And again, I am a believing christian who also maintains that the real Jesus still wants us very much to believe in Him, and that not reluctantly but also forwardly, sometimes demandingly. I see God in Jesus and keep Him as my Savior.

 

So I don't want to dissolve church and New Testament with these things. And in that I see a particular beauty. Something's coming together here, our human purpose, our experiences, our science and culture and philosophy and art, and then Jesus Christ, our Messiah. And the history of the jews too that also had its deep significance.

 

Any thoughts?

 

 

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My thoughts lie more toward the bible being a product of certain people and cultures, they way they thought at the time.

 

I think that Adam & Eve is more a way of acknowledging that life isn't perfect and attempts to explain why, albeit built on other myths floating around the region at the time.

 

Similarly, I doubt very much that Noah has anything to do with an actual person, but rather a concept and a mythological way of explaining perhaps at first a very real flood, but by the time it came into writing I think the verbally handed story had developed over generations to explain again why life isn't pefect and to perhaps justify God's existence.

 

I think the changing God we see throughout the ages of the bible is a direct reflection of the changing and developing cultures.

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Hi Paul,

 

well I might be an odd nut in this forum because of this, but I don't think the bible is ONLY a reflection of human thought. Instead I believe that it contains reports of things that have really happened, ie Jesus rising from the dead, Him walking on water, increasing the bread that he gave the people, and so on. The reflection of human thought is mostly in how people were afraid of God and ascribed evil to Him, or at least the notion that God isn't knowing human goodness and always does His own thing and doesn't quite listen to us, that THIS is God's sovereignity.

 

But the odd thing is, this can be proven directly FROM the bible, this is the Holy aspect of this book, why it's special to me. I don't see it as inerrant, but as true, if that makes any sense.

 

In the context of Noah's story, for example, I see that it was exaggerated. There was no global flood. But there was probably a disastrous flood in the middle east, or in the black sea area, as modern research proposes. The thing is, however, that almost all people all around the globe at that time wrote mythologies and legendary accounts about a great flood. I think this has to do with a sort of spirit flood that reached people at the time, that the seers and shamans and such all received odd dreams in their respective religions, and that life was difficult and under peril in this time. And God caused this in order to separate people from their old way of life and then to introduce the concepts of justice and law, which marked a big developmental step for mankind.

 

This is the significance of Noah viewed from a historical perspective. But it also has meaning in our day. In our modern times we should see the whole world as our Ark, and need to steer it safely through the troubled waters of our current problems and things by which we're endangered. And our animal and plant life on the Earth suffers too and needs our care and attention.

 

Thanks,

 

Daniel

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Daniel,

 

I too think the bible contains traces of historocity, although I don't think the miracles of Jesus are in that category. I certainly think the writers of the OT were, in the main, heavily influenced by this view of God as a King, as Sovereign, in the way that they understood Kings to be - authoritarian rulers, to be obeyed not to be questioned, harsh but just, etc.

 

I too think there are many 'truths' contained in the bible, although like you I don't see it as inerrant.

 

Noah's flood is, to me, most likely a tribal tale that grew and grew until it got documented in it's current form, and there the tale stayed. I don't know of any evidence to support that most people all around the globe at that time wrote about a great flood, as I have often heard quoted, but I am aware that there are some cultures that recount some version of a flood story.

 

I see no harm in the interpretation of the Noah story that you take from it, but I think it is just that, your take on it and of course there are others that draw a different inspiration. Some people I know seem to draw security from the story - i.e. they think they are 'protected' by God because they aren't in the camp of the rabble that deserve drowning.

 

Much of my philosophy of the bible and how people interpret it can be summed up from a line in Ben Harper's song Burn One Down where he sings "Your choice is who you choose to be, and if your causin' no harm then you're alright with me".

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Today I've wanted to post some thoughts about the bible, its historical account and how we can interpret it.

 

My main idea would be that the book of Genesis has a literal meaning that evokes a profound but ultimately unfactual image of history as it really happened....Any thoughts?

Heh - you would make a good Kabbalist Jew, Skyseeker!

 

Some of the mystics in my Minyan tell similar "profound, but non-factual" histories gleaned from Genesis. They will weave their knowledge of Evolution in the stories, and they can be quite creative, as is your narrative.

 

I am non-theist, so my Genesis story would have a different theme. However, I think we will all arrive at the same conclusion: love and live life to the fullest, do what is right to your neighbor, and help those in need.

 

NORM

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