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Why Does The Bible Depict So Many Of God's Killings?


newadventures
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What do people here think of those who claim that the Bible depicts many violent and unjust actions of God? Initially, I was skeptikal of these claims, but I am committed to research, and now I feel confused after finding out a lot of stuff that I didn't even know was in the Bible. Even though I've read the Bible for a while, I guess I only focused on the more popular parts, and didn't notice some of the other details, stuff like what this website shows:

http://exposingchristianity.org/

 

Has anyone else thought of this? I'm interested in seeing what other opinions are on this; ultimately I will research with an open mind and try to find the truth.

Edited by newadventures
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What do people here think of those who claim that the Bible depicts many violent and unjust actions of God? Initially, I was skeptikal of these claims, but I am committed to research, and now I feel confused after finding out a lot of stuff that I didn't even know was in the Bible. Even though I've read the Bible for a while, I guess I only focused on the more popular parts, and didn't notice some of the other details, stuff like what this website shows:

http://exposingchristianity.org/

 

Has anyone else thought of this? I'm interested in seeing what other opinions are on this; ultimately I will research with an open mind and try to find the truth.

 

Here's my take. The Bible is not be taken literally with food or even water.

The God as taken literally in the bible did not kill anyone, anymore than God killed 225 000 people in the tsunami of 2004.

The Bible for me is a mixture of a fog of history, myth and metaphor.

What ever God is it is not the personal God of literal interpretations we have, at least in my opinion.

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Welcome! Pick something specific to discuss. You need a #2 sable if you are going to paint an accurate picture, not a spray gun.

 

In general, I think it proves the books of the Bible were not fictive constructions designed to bring in converts or pump people up. There is certainly a lot of uncomfortable stuff in there that would not be included if it was not absolutely necessary.

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The truth is certainly that there are a lot of violent and unjust behaviours attributed to God in the bible and the OT in particular. Whether these things actually occurred is open for debate but irrespective, the writings do demonstrate that the writer thought of many of these behaviours as acceptable of their God.

 

I think the violent stories are representative of what some people back then thought was an okay thing for a God to do. And the unjust stuff - well some people then thought it was just from their point of view.

 

I don't think for a minute that any God did those things, but that these writings are different men's interpretations of events or stories and they wrote with their own biases.

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One key passage is Joshua 10:11, where we are told that "the Lord" throws giant hailstones at the enemies of Israel, killing more by doing so than the actual armies of His chosen ones.

 

Later on, "the Lord" incarnates and as "the Son" tells us that God treats both good and bad alike, and we must ( to be "perfect" as "the Lord" is ) do likewise.

 

What are we to make of all this? At the last point where I actually looked to the Bible as any sort of primary/exclusive guide to the nature of Reality, I mused upon it as being a form of Roschach test - that "the Lord" we saw in it becomes in a sense a judgement on ourselves.

 

Now I totally reject any idea of ANY particular part of reality - book, person or whatever - as being in any way a better teacher of Reality than anything/anyone else. As I see it the only "revelation" is Reality itself.

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What are we to make of all this?

 

The OT are stories are, if I remember correctly, by different authors representing different communities told over centuries - and of course, these are the words of men trying to say something about God (also, wasn't it a 'tribal' god in some of the earliest stories?). The ones who would have real difficulties would be those who take the Bible literally as the inerrant word of God.

 

One question: if the only 'revelation' is Reality itself and if revelation, properly understood/defined, is disclosure are you saying that Reality disclosures 'self' to us?

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Joshua 10:11 is a fragment of the story of Israel coming to the defense of their ally, Gilbal. That story is part of the holy war claiming the land promised Abraham by and for God. It's hard to make much sense out of a couple extracted sentences out of the book.

 

The entire book is a compilation of oral history, so it can't be taken verbatim. The many supernatural events in Joshua lead to multiple possible interpretations. We can make some solid observations, though.

 

Joshua is only empowered by God working through him. The hailstones striking only the enemy and the stopping of the sun and moon demonstrate this, and the 'panic' of the enemies is a term used only in holy war accounts. Joshua is not a hero; he is a conduit for divine power. The victory belongs to God, not Joshua.

 

The reference to the book of Jasher indicates the compiler knew Scripture was based on other, older literature.

 

The nephilim show up fighting for Israel, which is curious as the nephilim are usually slated for divine extirpation.

 

Tariki is correct in that Joshua is the same name as Jesus, so a Christian interpretation could easily view this as a foreshadowing of Christ.

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In general, I think it proves the books of the Bible were not fictive constructions designed to bring in converts or pump people up. There is certainly a lot of uncomfortable stuff in there that would not be included if it was not absolutely necessary.

 

It may have been considered necessary in it's day, but much of it has no relevance whatsoever today (unless perhaps you think children who tease should be torn alive by bears as that would be God's will?).

 

2 Kings 2:23-25

23 Then he went up from there to Bethel; and as he was going up by the way, young lads came out from the city and mocked him and said to him, “Go up, you baldhead; go up, you baldhead!” 24 When he looked behind him and saw them, he cursed them in the name of the LORD. Then two female bears came out of the woods and tore up forty-two lads of their number. 25 And he went from there to Mount Carmel, and from there he returned to Samaria.

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We can make some solid observations, though.

 

Joshua is only empowered by God working through him. The hailstones striking only the enemy and the stopping of the sun and moon demonstrate this, and the 'panic' of the enemies is a term used only in holy war accounts. Joshua is not a hero; he is a conduit for divine power. The victory belongs to God, not Joshua.

 

That "power" ( divine or not ) is associated with the destruction of the "enemy" ( and those alone ) is certainly a solid observation.

 

Personally, I would hope never to be a conduit of such "power".

 

Thomas Merton had much to say on "war", as to whether or not it could ever be "holy". If I understand his conclusions correctly, he thought:- Theoretically, yes. In real, practical terms, no.

 

This all follows through into the "real world", where the current leader of the UK Labour Party, in saying that there were no circumstances in which he would ever press the nuclear button, is ridiculed and declared "unelectable". Indeed. Just so. We must seek to stop the Muslim invasion of our Christian country.

 

(Please note the irony - I seem often to be misunderstood)

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It may have been considered necessary in it's day, but much of it has no relevance whatsoever today.........

Roman Catholics also see themselves as "Bible Believers", yet their approach (theoretically and ideally) to the text is more nuanced than the Protestant (literalist) position.

 

To quote.....To search out the intention of the sacred writers, attention should be given, among other things, to "literary forms." For truth is set forth and expressed differently in texts which are variously historical, prophetic, poetic, or of other forms of discourse. The interpreter must investigate what meaning the sacred writer intended to express and actually expressed in particular circumstances by using contemporary literary forms in accordance with the situation of his own time and culture. For the correct understanding of what the sacred author wanted to assert, due attention must be paid to the customary and characteristic styles of feeling, speaking and narrating which prevailed at the time of the sacred writer, and to the patterns men normally employed at that period in their everyday dealings with one another (Dei Verbum, III, 12, 2)

 

Given the above, and taking into account that the "times" of the writers are the subject of increasing knowledge and understanding, then the "meaning" can grow/evolve. Alas, the literalists - possibly through fear, of "God" and of the quick sand of much modern thought - want a meaning set in stone, fixed for all time, and heaven help those who will not accept it!

 

 

 

 

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What are we to make of all this?

 

The OT are stories are, if I remember correctly, by different authors representing different communities told over centuries - and of course, these are the words of men trying to say something about God (also, wasn't it a 'tribal' god in some of the earliest stories?). The ones who would have real difficulties would be those who take the Bible literally as the inerrant word of God.

 

One question: if the only 'revelation' is Reality itself and if revelation, properly understood/defined, is disclosure are you saying that Reality disclosures 'self' to us?

 

As usual, I'm not really sure just what I am saying. I did think of Dogen's words concerning the study self, but rather than begin another load of waffle, maybe you could take a look at this link and have a read........

 

http://www.thezensite.com/ZenTeachings/Dogen_Teachings/GenjoKoan_Aitken.htm

 

See what you make of it.

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It comes down to whether you take the Bible as either the literal word of God or 'inspired' by God and to what degree (or not) you consider it inerrant. Although, for example, one could lift out that God is the one who empowers man (which I think is valid theologically), one still does not have to believe in any way that God 'killed' any of his 'children' - including those who were against his 'chosen' people.

 

The Catholic quote that Tariki gave above is spot on.

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That "power" ( divine or not ) is associated with the destruction of the "enemy" ( and those alone ) is certainly a solid observation.

Personally, I would hope never to be a conduit of such "power".

Thomas Merton had much to say on "war", as to whether or not it could ever be "holy". If I understand his conclusions correctly, he thought:- Theoretically, yes. In real, practical terms, no.

This all follows through into the "real world", where the current leader of the UK Labour Party, in saying that there were no circumstances in which he would ever press the nuclear button, is ridiculed and declared "unelectable". Indeed. Just so. We must seek to stop the Muslim invasion of our Christian country.

(Please note the irony - I seem often to be misunderstood)

Irony and satire don't come across in messages. Use a :) to indicate those.

 

Holy War was a special situation for ancient Israel. It was always called by God and never by a king, general or priest. It always used God as the means and the victor, i.e. hailstones, trumpets at Jericho etc. No taking of booty was allowed; Israel could not profit from holy war.

 

Mankind declaring war in the name of God is blasphemy.

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Irony and satire don't come across in messages. Use a :) to indicate those.

 

Holy War was a special situation for ancient Israel. It was always called by God and never by a king, general or priest. It always used God as the means and the victor, i.e. hailstones, trumpets at Jericho etc. No taking of booty was allowed; Israel could not profit from holy war.

 

Mankind declaring war in the name of God is blasphemy.

No booty allowed?

 

Deuteronomy 20:14

"Only the women and the children and the animals and all that is in the city, all its spoil, you shall take as booty for yourself; and you shall use the spoil of your enemies which the LORD your God has given you.

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No booty allowed?

 

Deuteronomy 20:14[/size]

 

Verse Concepts

 

"Only the women and the children and the animals and all that is in the city, all its spoil, you shall take as booty for yourself; and you shall use the spoil of your enemies which the LORD your God has given you.

'Holy War' is a specific term used by Bible scholars. If booty is allowed, it is not Holy War in the biblical sense. Edited by Burl
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Often I'm posting from my Kindle Fire which has no provision for smilies etc.

As for any war "called by God", thus making it "Holy", no, sorry.

Correct.

 

Kindle does not let you type a colon or semicolon followed by a right paren? I think we may need to declare a holy war on Amazon!

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Kindle does not let you type a colon or semicolon followed by a right paren? I think we may need to declare a holy war on Amazon!

 

 

I'm only conversant with clicking on the little icons. Exactly what little digits are required to make a particular smilie are out of my orbit.

 

:)

 

(I'm on my laptop........)

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'Holy War' is a specific term used by Bible scholars. If booty is allowed, it is not Holy War in the biblical sense.

 

That does sound like a bit of a stretch on the behalf of the biblical scholars. Can you make some reference Burl - I haven't heard that thought process before (other than apologetics). I'd be interested in the scholarship.

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That does sound like a bit of a stretch on the behalf of the biblical scholars. Can you make some reference Burl - I haven't heard that thought process before (other than apologetics). I'd be interested in the scholarship.

 

Hi Paul, I'll leave that with Burl. But having a bit of time to myself I did a bit of Googling. One interesting site was related to the Hebrew word "herem", which can refer to either war or property. "Herem means that in the hour of victory all that would normally be regarded as booty, including the inhabitants of the land, was to be devoted to God". Seeking the roots of the word, it seems to relate to the utter destruction of all that separates us from God. Which, at least to me, can lead to other things than "Holy War".......perhaps more a journey inwards rather than looking over the next hill to find your next target?

 

One scholar spoke of Holy War as being concerned purely with the elimination of idolatry, seeming to imply that the wars of other nations back in those days were concerned more with pure conquest and booty. Which to me asks the question, is "idolatry" another thing that is in the eye of the beholder? One of the very oldest "Holy" book, the Vedas, has the line "Thou are formless: your only form is our knowledge of You". which makes me reflect upon the words of that old Hymn, sung with such gusto not too many years ago, about "the heathen in his blindness bowing down to wood and stone". It makes one wonder.

 

Well, whatever.

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That does sound like a bit of a stretch on the behalf of the biblical scholars. Can you make some reference Burl - I haven't heard that thought process before (other than apologetics). I'd be interested in the scholarship.

It's not a stretch. It is technical jargon. There were no "peaceful" people in those days, and warfare was the standard relationship between peoples. The idea of "peaceful coexistence" didn't really exist until the Romans came and established a professional soldering class.

 

Reference: Waltke, Bruce K., Yu, Charles. "An Old Testament Theology". Zondervan:Michigan. 2007

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It's not a stretch. It is technical jargon. There were no "peaceful" people in those days, and warfare was the standard relationship between peoples. The idea of "peaceful coexistence" didn't really exist until the Romans came and established a professional soldering class.

 

Reference: Waltke, Bruce K., Yu, Charles. "An Old Testament Theology". Zondervan:Michigan. 2007

 

I understand that it is jargon, but I was curious about the scholarship that determined the difference between when a war was a holy war and when it was not, as described in the bible.

 

You said that If booty is allowed, it is not Holy War in the biblical sense. So I was asking what scholarship that assumption came from because the bible seems to offer very little by way of explanation about the differences in war and they seemed to quite often seize booty (both of the material and of the feminine kind) when it suited them but wrote that such was God's instruction.

 

So I am interested in the scholarship that explains how the bible differentiates between holy war and non-holy war (as carried out by the Israelites). Whilst the statement was made that taking booty meant it was not a holy war, I don't understand what supports that assumption.

Edited by PaulS
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