The biggest mistake.

by Half banana 35 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Half banana
    Half banana

    A long time ago, before television radio and films, before printing, before the invention of writing, people listened only to the spoken word—and the cry of birds, the wind whistling through the trees and the sea crashing on the sea shore. Before written text they knew about the gods because high up there in the night sky was where they lived; gods, goddesses and immortal heroes. The constellations told of their exploits. Their stories were told and retold down the generations. It happened because humankind was the only animal able to ask the question WHY? Parents could give a reply to their offspring because the answer, as they had learned, was already written in the stars.

    By the making the connection of each constellation in regard to its neighbour, longer narratives could be woven and explanations given why things happen, why you must listen to the shaman and why the gods and heroes direct earthly actions. One tale was pointed out looking north in the winter sky, that the club of the hero was about to strike the head of the long winding serpent but he in turn was about to be bitten on his heel. There were dangers and pitfalls everywhere. To avoid calamity it was necessary to connect with the gods.

    Before the invention of writing, people could tell you not just the names of each of hundreds of stars but what each star and what each constellation meant. The brightest star in the sky is Sirius meaning "the scorcher" found In the constellation of Canis Major, was associated with the "dog days" of drought of late summer. They knew that their fragile mortal life on earth was but a poor reflection of the immortal gods in the heavens.The stars, like the sun did on a daily basis, also travelled to the underworld. They heard long and engaging sagas about heroes in the underworld, transformations, curses and rewards, arguments with gods, punishment, revenge and victory. These tales were delivered by travelling story tellers who had committed them to memory. They spoke under the glittering stars, using them as a touchstone to elucidate divine odysseys. Conjuring in the minds of their audience a captivating mythological world, men and women being transformed into supernatural creatures.Yet echoing their actual experience of life subject to the capricious whims of nature and fortune.

    But no person back then had the need to conceive of the idea of truthfulness.

    By around 8500 BCE we have evidence for theatrical presentation of myth probably within an arena with actors using masks to represent the characters of the myth. Possibly the tales told there were of a symbolic nature which would confer a tribal identity. The rhythms and patterns of speech or song could be accompanied by percussion instruments on taut skins or resonant stones or wood and there were and flutes from bird bones. Dance and mime would follow the sounds. Later a more realistic theatre in ancient Egypt portrayed the exploits of their gods, explaining the creation of heroes by the union of heavenly forces and human fertility. The religions focused on solar deities which are not a million miles from the archetypal story line for most hero-saviour religions like Christianity.

    No one however questioned the veracity of the dramas.

    The time came when a wonderful advance was made: the spoken word could be preserved for others to comprehend. The most flexible form of writing evolved using an alphabet of sounds to represent the spoken language. The Bronze Age is the first period of human history where we have records of language. Often the first examples of writing that the illiterate saw were inscriptions on large statues of Kings or gods proclaiming their terrifying power. In the palaces of kings, court scribes kept written records of the household accounts as well as the celestial events above them.

    The peasants would have associated writing with divinity and their god-like rulers. The scribes wrote at the bidding of the court and told grovelling tales to flatter their lords and masters. In ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece we have sophisticated legends, horror stories, moral tales, traveller’s tales, uplifting tales, fanciful histories and practical advice for farmers and princes. Human culture had moved forward and flourished.

    But never was there a need to warn that stories are just stories.

    The Bible is not so very old, it was compiled in the fourth century CE. The ideas it contains certainly are from antiquity, indeed from stories which hark back to the star stories of the pre-literate period put into written words and elaborated almost beyond recognition. However the texts are mainly traceable to the Iron Age and on into the Hellenic period after the death of Alexander the Great in the 335BCE such as the Book of Daniel. It is surprising to learn that the oldest complete Jewish ‘Bible’ dates only from the 11th century CE.

    The contents of the Bible as developed by the Roman Church, was made to be viewed as a sacred item and implicit was that it was the work of God, which of course was the explanation for everything and anything before people became educated.

    The Bible was compiled with Roman political aims in mind, assembled with pre-scientific thinking for propaganda purposes and with the pre-supposition of the existence of gods and spirits. It encapsulates the pagan folk beliefs in magic and mythology, impossible events and naturally carries no evidence for these happenings.

    Since the Enlightenment at the end of the eighteenth century people began to question the veracity of stories and if they are not true we put them into the category of literature.

    Indisputably the Bible is not only a work of literature it is also the preeminent piece of Catholic propaganda having a universal distribution in the West. Nevertheless a literal belief in it has hobbled people's thinking for the last sixteen hundred years. The biggest mistake in the twenty first century is to imagine that the Bible is sacred truth.

  • peacefulpete

    Well worded post. I'd only add that the stories of the bible, like those of the far east, have a bittersweet beauty in themselves as works of people trying to understand their world and hoping for something better. Its hard to see the Bible that way after feeling betrayed by it, but eventually it can be seen as it is.

  • Half banana
    Half banana

    Pete, you put your finger on a deep psychological reality "people trying to understand their world". That is what we do from day one, we try to make sense of everything. For a child, all inputs are puzzling and charged with some degree fearfulness. As we mature normally we see a larger picture and our fears diminish.

    Religious convictions however prevent the ideal state of personal responsibility, independence and selfhood from developing. If we are given to believe in spirit creatures, divine judgement and consequent obligations etc, we remain as children given to fearful outcomes for our actions and remain lowly subjects of an imagined invisible authority.This is not progress it is a snagged development.

    A proper and concise evaluation of the Bible is needed but hard to come by.

  • peacefulpete

    I've spent the last 20 years or so learning to appreciate the Bible. That seems an odd thing to say given our background, but I now actually enjoy exploring it like a new planet almost. I never knew it as a JW. I never appreciated it as a great puzzle with a very complex history, it was just a black and white answer book with a few dozen proof texts. I enjoy a new discovery of artifact and text related to the Bible as much as I do a new hominid fossil. To me they are both stories that have a lot to say about being human.

  • tiki

    Pete, your observations about the bible are piquing my curiosity. For years after our departure from the cult my husband would continue to read the bible...the book of Daniel especially fascinated him...I bought him some erudite expositions on the book which I too found fascinating. But I could not read or consider the bible as a whole due to being so soured on it by the cult. I kind of wish I could detach sufficiently and see it from your perspective. Interesting thread here.

  • peacefulpete

    tiki. My wife feels the same way, she has set it aside and has no interest in anything I "discover". Maybe for me it was at first a necessity to put to rest the mirage of divine authorship but then became intellectual exercise. There were a few posters here years ago that really blew my mind and always had something to teach me. It became clear I had to relearn how to think, After leaving I was hungry, and at times too hastily accepted what later turned out to be unsupported theories about the bible. It was an exciting time. I chased some ideas till there wasn't anymore road to travel.. I read religiously (pun intended). For many theories there simply is just not enough pieces left to finish the puzzle.. That's frustrating. I remember when Richard Carrier was asked to dive into this area of research he felt like he was going to change the world with careful research but after a couple years he concluded there were just too many loose ends to be able to be definitive.

    Such as:

    I did cool down after a while but still get a charge whenever I turn over a new stone. Again I'm deeply indebted to posters here who took the time to nudge me in a more productive direction.

  • smiddy3

    It is surprising to learn that the oldest complete Jewish ‘Bible’ dates only from the 11th century CE.

    This sentence intrigues me , are their other posters here who can shed more light on this statement ?

  • waton

    For humans to invest so much time energy into analyzing one or of their books amounts to no more than navel gazing.

    Our understanding will come not from peering into our ignorant past but from our exciting future discoveries.

    A rear view mirror is of limited use when moving forward in time all the time.

  • Half banana
    Half banana


    The Leningrad Codex (Latin: Codex Leningradensis, the "codex of Leningrad") is the oldest complete manuscript of the Hebrew Bible in Hebrew, using the Masoretic Text and Tiberian vocalization. It is dated 1008 CE (or possibly 1009) according to its colophon.


  • Giordano

    The bible is not is simply a compilation of edited writings which were selected or changed to favor which ever religion claimed to be the true religion.

    "It shows us in our bible that we have the truth!"

    Reading the bible is akin to reading an encyclopedia that was written hundreds if not thousands of years ago. It might give you a laugh or two or maybe even a tad of insight in how things were....... then.

    We have any number of variations/translations as needed by most specialized religions like the JW's, the Catholic Church, Mormons etc.

    The way to legitimize your beliefs is to put them into your version of the bible.

    I have always found it interesting that Jesus never wrote anything down. To this day we have not found a scrap of writing even though he was surrounded by people who could write.

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