"The Bible is Not a Book. It's a Library."

by leavingwt 17 Replies latest jw friends

  • cptkirk

    how many of the books found in the dead sea scrolls are even in the bible? half? what is the criteria for deeming one canonical and one not? if there is this much discrepancy between what they CHOSE to put in the bible....how much more discrepancy is there between the dozens of books they left out?

  • poor places
    poor places

    Interesting stuff. To me, the better question is this: what is the benefit of taking the Bible literally? A person could find comfort in many scriptures, but what about the passages about eternal burning and God destroying people, etc? So I guess that the scholars could spend their time figuring out which books of the Bible are most likely to be accurate (I'm sure they've already calculated the odds), but is there a point to it?

  • PSacramento


    As you know and have seen for yourself here, when an athiest is confronted with a believer that does NOT hold the bibel as soemthing to be take COMPLETELY literally AND concretly, they get frustrated and fall back on the simpel and quite correct question of:

    If you can't take ALL of it, then how can you take ANY of it? or they say, Who/How do you decide what to take as literal and what not?

    And the answer those questions with, "you are cherry picking".

    Of course people do this ALL the time, with everything in life, but when it comes to the bible it seems to be a HUGE issue even to someone that holds no value in the bible whatsoever.

    Christians and AUgustine is a fien example, don't avoid the issues, they try to RECONCILE them.

    The bible is but ONE method in which God has revealed himself to US ( nature, the universe and Christ are the others) and ALL most be reconciled to each other.

    That is what a Christian MUST do and why Augustine warned not to profess to be masters of bible understanding and make fools of ourselve sby stating the bible says THIS and then the universe showing us that THIS is really THAT.

  • PSacramento
    how many of the books found in the dead sea scrolls are even in the bible? half? what is the criteria for deeming one canonical and one not? if there is this much discrepancy between what they CHOSE to put in the bible....how much more discrepancy is there between the dozens of books they left out?

    Different sects of Judaisim had different set of books, though their core seems to be very consistent.

    The Essens of the DSS are one sect of Judaisim, along with the Saudecess, Pharisees and Zealots.

  • Leolaia

    My opinion on this:

    The Bible is best thought of as an anthology of works of considerable prestige in ancient Judea, supplemented by a second anthology of works written within a later religious movement influenced by Judean religion and the works of the first anthology. This isn't precisely accurate, for the OT anthology (or different editions of this anthology) valued by the authors of the NT is not identical to the Tanakh that corresponds to the OT. But it is an anthology with a diverse assortment of literary genres, historical eras, ideological backgrounds, and so forth. It also isn't an anthology of completely independent works later collected together. The present OT anthology is based on earlier collections, and books that are older in the OT have influenced younger books in the OT, just as the OT itself is a resource of material for the NT. Books that were not selected for either anthology, meanwhile, may have had a literary effect on composition because they were still part of the literary milieu at the time.

    Fundamentalists have a very difficult time accepting the presence of fiction or fictional elements in the Bible. What is so wrong with fiction? The assumption seems to be that admitting a book as fictional is the same as admitting it is false. Did not the ancient Judeans write fiction too? Why couldn't they have written fiction of such quality that it would be preserved in an anthology as diverse as the Bible is? Fundamentalists go through great lengths to "defend the historicity" of Jonah; they spend so much time trying to prove that the fish story is factually true that the real meaning of the book is ignored. Jonah is clearly fiction; it is chock full of satirical and comic elements and it appropriates much material from elsewhere in the OT. It is similar to the parables told by the rabbis and by Jesus in the NT, such that the satire has larger point in mind: the author here is interested in criticizing a kind of false Jewish piety that views non-Jews as incapable of true piety. This is as much a social critique as it is a religious one. That is what fiction does best: exploring social, political, and philosophical issues in a creative way that highlights problems, contradictions, and solutions. One needs only to look at the Parable of the Good Samaritan for an example of social critique in fiction in the NT.

    At the same time, the Bible contains history, or rather, historiographical works. Here however we have to beware of dichotomies like history vs. fiction, literal vs. figurative, and the like. The ancients did not necessarily make the sharp distinctions we make today. Thucydides is well known for including imagined speeches (which we might regard as fictional elements) in an otherwise straightforward account of history; similarly Josephus embellished his account of the siege of Masada with speeches that are not likely historical. The historiography found in 1 Samuel through 2 Kings contains both legend and history (some of it is very good history for its time), but like any historiography the narratives representing the past reflect the authors' ideology and sociopolitical concerns.

    It would be like going into an actual physical library and saying "Well, if all these books about Harry Potter are fictional, then how do I know these other books about Abraham Lincoln are factual?"

    This is persented as an absurdity, but this is exactly the question that any historian should ask about one's primary sources. The historical sources re Nabonidus and Cyrus all reflect different ideological perspectives and attitudes and vary in terms of reliability and historicity; the late account of Xenophon, for instance, is usually regarded as a historical romance (akin to a historical novel), but it too contains important historical information. We know that Abraham Lincoln is a historical figure and Harry Potter is not, but the matter is less clear with ancient sources, especially those with less factual (legendary or fictional) material. To what extent is the narrative of Darius the Mede in Daniel factual? What about King David? What about Gilgamesh (generally thought to have been an actual king of Uruk)? What about Ziusudra, the Sumerian Flood hero? More to the point, just because a book concerns a historical figure like Abraham Lincoln doesn't mean it is necessarily factual and historically reliable. If the only source on President Abraham Lincoln in the future is Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (presently being adapted by Tim Burton), how would one decide that Abraham Lincoln was an actual person, and what details are accurate and which are not?

  • cptkirk

    if you look at all the gaps in the greek scriptures regarding jesus, all the things that make you say 'hmm...this can't be right....'. you do the research and it's still not right. superimposing the idea that jesus was just the same as santa claus, actually makes all the gaps make perfect sense. it's a fairy tale, and the gaps you would expect in any fairy tale, are the same gaps you find in the stories regarding jesus.

    maybe 2,000 years from now when society goes into crisis again, they will fall back on the stories of tolkien to get them through.

  • leavingwt

    Adam, Eve & The Bible

    . . .

    There are, of course, two creation accounts in Genesis. The first (1:1-2:3) pulses with the divine cadence of orderly creation, setting the rhyme and meter for understanding the harmonious ebb and flow of work and rest, creation and goodness, male and female. It was most likely the work of a priest, attuned to the rhythm of the week and the worship of the creator God. The second story (2:4-3:24) undertakes no less than to portray the condition of humanity and to address questions as sublime as the complimentary differences between men and women and as problematic as why this good life is so marred by strife, discontent and hardship.

    The differences between the two are as palpable as they important for those with the courage to notice, revealing the distinct and complimentary confessions the ancient Israelites offered about their confidence in God and the nature and destiny of humanity. Yet read these stories literally and all the artistic nuance and poetic beauty of these distinct confessions is immediately flattened by the need to have them conform to post-Enlightenment ideas of rational verifiability imported in the mid-19th century to repel attempts to read the Bible as a historical document.

    If, however, we look to Genesis not for historical datum from which to construct a pseudo-scientific cosmology we find a different story all together. It's a story about the insecurity that is endemic to humanity and the ever-present temptation to refuse the identity that comes from the vulnerability of authentic relationship in favor of defining ourselves over and against each other. Read this way, the story of Eden is the history of humanity writ small, and Adam and Eve are, indeed, the parents of us all. It's a more complicated story, for sure, than we've sometimes been offered, but it is also more interesting and compelling and, ultimately, one I'm inclined to believe.


  • PSacramento

    I truly LOVE reading what Leo writes :)

    May Our lord strengthen your spirit and intellect Leo, you are a blessing here :)

    I have posted Augustine's views on taking Genesis ( as an example) as literal a few times, so I wont post it here but it makes a very strong statement about reconciling OUR interpretation fo ANY biblical work with the what God reveals himself in the Universe AND makes a strong argument against those that THINK themselves masters of "biblical interpretation".

    Here is naother example of yet another way to look and interpret and understand Genesis 1 and 2:



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