Was this the garden of Eden/Noah's flood?
I fear that in about 2,000 years, archeologists are going to dig up my comic book collection, and will conclude that "Spiderman" was real cause the story takes place in New York...
We are not talking stumbling across an ancient document that was hidden in the earth for thousands of years. The Hebrew Bible was not suddenly discovered by the Jews, nor did they come across this text and say: “Hey, let’s build a religion based on what is written here.” This is very different. The Hebrew Bible was composed by a living and functioning religion and its adherents by a culture that is very much still alive.
The problem lies in that some believe what they were taught either by their exposure to the Watchtower or Christianity in general and then judging the text and the Jews by the incorrect information they were taught.
For Jehovah’s Witnesses and many fundamentalist Christians, the Hebrew Scriptures are something to base a religion and doctrines upon. But the Hebrew Bible was written by a culture that already had a religion and doctrines. The Hebrew Scriptures are a reflection of already developed doctrines and religious beliefs. Christians and JWs use the Scriptures to base their religion on, claiming that it is to be used as the basis for religion. But the text was used by people who claimed their religion was revealed prior to their composition of the Scriptures. For the Jews the Scriptures are not supposed to be used to base a religion or doctrines upon. For the Jews the Hebrew Scriptures are based upon their already existing religion.
Jehovah’s Witnesses judge doctrines based on what Scripture says.
Jews interpret Scripture by what their religion says.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have a religion that claims to be based on a book.
Jews wrote a book based on their religion.
If you reject Scripture on the basis that its stories can’t be used to base a religion on, then you are rejecting Scripture based on a misuse. It was never designed to act as the foundation for a religion. It was designed to explain how Jews saw themselves in relation to the world.
Some of the stories, from the Jewish point of view, were intentionally meant to have fictional characteristics. Others are understood only in the light of the living tradition from which the stories flowed. Other parts of the text were taken from the liturgy of the Temple.
The Hebrew Scriptures are not intended to function independent of the culture or the religion that developed them any more than the religious texts of Buddhism, Hinduism or the Book of Mormon are meant to be used independently of the religions that fostered them. Would it be logical to judge a book designed to be used by and understood by Buddhist monks negatively because it wasn’t good for creating a religion that was different from and contrary to Buddhism? Of course not! Then why are we judging the Hebrew Scriptures by standards set by Gentile Christians?
The illustration of finding a piece of current fiction thousands of years from now doesn’t apply here because we are not talking about a text that started a religion. We are talking about a culture that started a book based on their already living and breathing religion. That is very different.
Yes calibinflorida, they started a book based on their religion but their religion was as much based off of other cultures around them just like the book that they wrote was based off of stories and myths from again cultures around them. The Jew's borrowed most of their religion and beliefs from the nation's around them. Then again the Christians and Muslim's have done the same.
But I never said that the Jews were not a product of the cultures around them. On the contrary, I repeatedly stated that they borrowed from cultures around them (such as the cosmic models for the creation stories). The fact that the Jews borrowed a lot if not all they did from cultures around them doesn't change anything.
You might think this is important due to claims made by Christians or JWs that these things all have to come directly from G-d. That is not a Jewish thought. Christians make the Hebrew Bible look bad by making you think that such a point as you brought up is important, but it isn't...at least not for Jews.
@Crazyguy, yes, I was referring to the new global experience of abundant rainwater after the end of the last, very dry Ice Age episode.
Here's an illustration to help explain what I am getting at.
Jehovah's Witnesses and people who come from this religion will tend to always see certain things based on what they have been taught from this group--unless they work to unroot them, which is possible.
But when that doesn't happen, our conclusions can sometimes (but not always) be off or incorrect (at least to a degree) because we are not always starting from an entirely objective place.
The "let-them-eat-cake" legend is a good example of what can happen. As the story goes, the poor French mothers begged Marie Antoinette: "Help us for we have no bread to feed our little ones." Marie reportedly answered: "Well then, let them eat cake." The people were insulted by Antoinette's response.
But in reality the two sides were blinded by their own limited point of view, and this caused all communication between both sides to fail. The poor didn't realize that Marie could not envision a situation where people did not have either bread or cake to eat. She was not exposed to this reality and therefore did not know it existed. So when the women told her that they had no "bread" to offer their children, thinking that it was helpful advice because both foods are similar, Marie suggested that they use "cake" as a substitute.
English is read left-to-right but Hebrew is read right-to-left.
Christian men take their hats off to pray, but Jewish men cover their heads to pray.
Christians say "amen" to their prayers, but Jews never say "amen" to their prayers.
The list can go on and on, but the main point is that people often think two-dimensionally, that for example since it would be problematic for Christians to realize that Jewish culture and religion has ties to the cultures and religions around them that such would have to be a problem for Jews.
But Jews know where their customs come from. Abraham, for example, is believed to have celebrated a "Passover-like" holiday every year that he learned from the heathen people he came from. The ancient Hebrews, it is said, kept this tradition even through their slavery years in Egypt. It just so happened that the days of their liberation came on or around the date of this tradition, so it was adapted to take on new meanings based on the Exodus itself.
Because such a view is problematic for the type of faith or theology of groups like the JWs, you never learn this and think such a point would be a "revelation" to Jewish people. But it isn't. It only supports what Jews have already known about their customs and history.
Not learning to think outside of the box you've been living in can sometimes cause you to come to wrong conclusions.