The Jewish perspective of the OT according to poster David_Jay

by deegee 44 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • deegee


    "This is the sort of cosmogony that the ancient Babylonians had "

    The correct website is:

  • David_Jay


    Your questions are a perfect example of what psychologists theorize as "cognitive dissonance."

    Notice your speech: "I can't image..." In other words, you even admit that you can't take the steps to wrap your mind around the explanations given because they don't measure up to your standpoint.

    And that's actually a very common and normal response when Jews explain their perspective. While there has been growth and change in Jewish theology, please note that I never said that the Jews have never taken things from a literal view. I mentioned before that there are literalists among Jews, didn't I?

    But even among the Orthodox, Jewish literalists have never read the Scriptures with a view that it was all plain as read on the surface, as if these writings are something to be understood at face value. The very fact that there is such a thing as Jewish mysticism, such as Kabbalah, is evidence that even when read by literalists, the Scriptures are believed to have underlying meanings far greater than what is on the surface.

    And the fact that the Jews did adopt the cosmology of the Mesopotamians as a tableau for Genesis 1 does in fact mean they once accepted that cosmology as literal. I've never denied any of that. Just because some aspects are literal or were taken as literal does not imply that the Scriptures are a literal retelling of all the stories. Remember, The Miracle Worker has literal aspects too. That is why I started with that. Some of it is literal, some of it is not. The same with the Bible.

    It seems as if you are skipping over all that example of The Miracle Worker in my trying to demonstrate how the Bible is a mixture of literal and not so literal parts. Why would you do that? I actually know why. Your questions are examples of cognitive dissonance doing its work. It's like going into the denial stage when someone dies: "They can't be dead because such-and-such, and this-and-that, and I can't imagine it..."

    You use the phrase "I can't imagine" twice up above. You state that you are not sure that your questions were answered, even though I went into this thing telling you that you might not get a straight answer. I mentioned this and explained that you sometimes have to give up asking "why" in order to understand the Jewish perspective.

    I never stated that Jews see nothing literal in their texts, otherwise all my words about The Miracle Worker were for naught. Helen Keller was real, she was literally blind and deaf, she literally learned that "w-a-t-e-r" meant "water" just like the play says she did. But it didn't happen the way The Miracle Worker dramatizes. Something about my answer doesn't sit well with your current concepts about the Bible, concepts you are not willing to part with, but I never said that the things in Scripture weren't or aren't sometimes accepted as literal as you state.

    You are coming to a conclusion I never wrote because, as cognitive dissonance does, you are struggling with something you aren't letting go of. You have to let go of your views if you are to understand the views of people who were the creators of something. You can't place what you decide the Scriptures of Jewish people mean by placing your own view as an overlay anymore than you can tell a writer of a play that your interpretation of his work is more correct than his original intentions.

    I can't make you let go, and you may find letting go to what you expect I should say or want me to something too difficult to accept as it will mean demolishing a lot you've come to believe about yourself and the world around you. But many people have rejected what the Jews understand about their own writings to place their own interpretations over it, and many of the same were responsible for the pogroms, the Inquisition, and the Shoah even though they claimed to believe and understand the Bible.

    Apparently one does miss the point if one ignores the intent of the authors and "can't imagine" that their view and that of their culture carries more weight than foreigners who wouldn't even be able to read the work if it had not been translated from our language in the first place. Just like you have to learn our language and accept its rules to translate Hebrew, you have to do the same for the written word just as much to understand it.

  • deegee

    Hello David_Jay,

    My conclusion about the Jewish perspective of the OT based on your various comments in this forum is that Judaism seems to be a rather fluid religion filled with reinterpretations and rationalizations as time goes by. What was considered literal today may not be literal tomorrow. Hindsight has a way of changing religion.

    Religion largely depends on what is generally happening or possible or acceptable in the world at the time. Societal changes shape religion so that what is relevant today may not be relevant tomorrow.

    Also, Judaism seems to be no different from Christianity when it comes to diversity of viewpoints - from the conservative/literal/Orthodox to the liberal. If each devout, sincere Jew (or Christian) has a relationship with God and is praying to God why the varying viewpoints regarding the Bible? Is God telling different people different things?


  • David_Jay


    Part of what you are saying is accurate, hits the nail on the head.

    But part of it has to do with the vast differences between what people expect of "God."

    For the most part, and I can't and won't say Jews are above this, humans have a habit of making God into an image they can deal with. From the Jewish view this is necessary as God is transcendent in our view: God can be described and yet defy our descriptions. We struggle to know this God who communicates in return, while at the same time it is easier than we sometimes make it out to be and there's nothing to be heard.

    Jews do allow for the concept that God tells different people different things, and that if indeed this is so, this is likely due to our inability to truly comprehend God. This doesn't mean that there is more than one "truth," but it might suggest that not all can or would grasp God as God is.

    The Hebrew Bible was never written with the intention that it would be used by anyone else except Jews, so it flies out of the window of expectation in Jewry that other non-Jewish views are intended at the expense of the Jewish experience.

    In other words, if Buddhists write a holy book, is it meant to be taken out of Buddhism and raised to be something else it was never intended to be by its authors? If that sounds illogical, why is it okay to take the Jewish writings and do the same thing?

  • Carol1111

    My conclusion about the Jewish perspective of the OT based on your various comments in this forum is that Judaism seems to be a rather fluid religion filled with reinterpretations and rationalizations as time goes by. What was considered literal today may not be literal tomorrow. Hindsight has a way of changing religion.

    That sounds like my perception of JW beliefs, Deegee.

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