Bible comes alive if we look for meaning behind the symbols it uses

by Ireneus 53 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Darkknight757

    I can’t get past the part where it says green vegetation came one creative day before the sun.

  • Pistoff

    The bible is important as literature, not a book of history.

    It seems important to me to understand it, because it is embedded in western culture, we can't avoid it.

    I reached this point years ago, wanting to just understand how such a relic of a book could still have a hold on our civilization.

    The OT is best understood, IMO, as a collection of oral and written traditions, some 'based' on historical events though not history as we know it, with a focus to understanding or at least accepting why bad things happened to them even though they 1) believed that God was powerful and only good, 2) that God was their god and 3) they were his chosen people.

    Those 3 ideas forced the view that when bad things happened to them as a nation, that it was because they had abandoned God in some way.

    This helped me to understand the stories in the OT; the events were interpreted, not as random events (too frightening) but as aligning with those ideas.

    Most scholars believe that much of the OT as we know it was edited and reformulated between 700 and 400 BCE, with others written as late as the first century BCE.

    The bible is a complex thing.

    It is not anything I view as a guide anymore, or as history, but as a good view into how rational people come to believe irrational things, just to help them through the day.

  • Wake Me Up Before You Jo-Ho
    Wake Me Up Before You Jo-Ho

    Hey @Irenus, I appreciate you sharing that.

    Of course many people think of the Bible as science for stupid people - particularly when it's reduced to its more fundamentalist manifestations. Those fundamentalists who say that the Bible is literally true have shot themselves in the foot already. By default, they are history deniers and have doomed themselves to subscribe to a rudimentary world knowledge before the emergence of science several thousand years later.

    However, rather than completely writing off the Bible as merely pre-rational superstition, I give it credit for when it was written with the limited information humans had at that time. These are ancient ideas (the story of Genesis was not a new one and has been around for over 10,000 years) that were created with so much blood and effort that it's incalculable.

    For one thing, I don't think it's an accident that the axiomatic Western individual is someone who was unfairly nailed to a cross and tortured. Even the ancient civilizations understood that in order to rise, we must pick up our own suffering and bear it. Like the story of Christ (and unlike our animal ancestors), we should be conscious about others in the process to help move society and, by extension, humanity forward. It's clear that those responsible for propagating such mythological accounts understood that human beings need to make sacrifices in order to progress.

    We see this acted out to begin with in the Old Testament where the people made genuine archaic sacrifices. They would take something that they believed had value (often a prized animal) and burned it as an offering to God. That's not as stupid as it sounds. Consider the reason it was burned. As far as I've been able to tell, is because of the ancient perception of the world (a flat disc with the sky acting as bowl on top. Beyond that bowl was where the gods existed). That grand sense of awe a secular person feels when gazing up into the infinitesimal sky was interpreted by these civilizations as something divine. What else were they to think? So if they burned something and offered it up to a deity, the smoke would rise and God would be able detect the quality of their sacrifices.

    I see that as a dramatic representation of the fundamental idea that sometimes, in order to make things go well in your life, you have to let go of something that you love dearly, or of something you deeply want to do. Consider the sacrifice of waking up. Many of us have let something valuable go (a belief system, often including family) in hopes for a better future - either for ourselves or for others (our children).

    To get to the heart of it - what's the most valuable thing to each and every one of us? Our lives. And that's the central injunction of the mythological figure behind Christianity... someone who voluntarily sacrifices their life for the benevolent will that mankind has a better future. For one of the earliest attempts at surmising the meaning of life, that's not bad at all, if you ask me. But to weaponize these accounts as literal and a means for control through organized religion - that's when the symbols you speak of get muddied, ridiculed and demonized, be it by disenchanted individuals, or entire intellectual movements.

  • Finkelstein

    Jesus Christ was the most humanistic god that man ever envisioned within mythological expression.

    That's the real reason why humanity adopted and began to worship him, even a once great polytheistic nation of Rome who at one time may have persecuted Christians.

  • venus

    I agree with Wake Me Up Before You Jo-Ho

    Ireneous, Whether your conclusion is true or not, it is a good thought and beneficial.

    Thanks for sharing it.

  • Wake Me Up Before You Jo-Ho
    Wake Me Up Before You Jo-Ho

    Thanks, @venus. I always keep an eye out for both yours and @Ireneus' posts. I know they go against the grain here, but I find it interesting to weigh up different perspectives.

  • WTWizard

    The LIE-ble can come alive in assisting joke-hova to have the whole universe enslaved, with drudgery everywhere and happiness completely cleared out of the whole place. If that is what you want, then go ahead and continue studying and practicing that damnation book.

  • blownaway

    what is the real meaning behind lot fucking his daughters?

  • venus


    Account involving Lot and Abraham was obviously fabricated for grander purposes—for introducing Exodus and Ransom sacrifice of Jesus. An unbiased reading would show that writer of Genesis is struggling to create details, and in his desperation repeating the details already written in small scale into large scale later:

    a) Abraham is brought out of Chaldeans to “take possession of land” (Genesis 15:7)—a small scale incident as a foreshadow of Israel being brought out of Egypt to “take possession of land”—a large scale event.

    b) When God informed of His intention of destroying the wicked inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah Abraham made extensive questioning, cross-questioning and bargaining with God till he gets satisfied. (Genesis 18:16-33) However, when God informed of His intention of murdering Abraham’s own only-begotten, innocent son, he simply obeys without any questionings [which he should naturally have done more intensely than he did in the case of unrelated wicked people where Lot was living]. To provide a basis for Abraham’s story, they had to invent Lot, and destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah—a story with no purpose because Lot’s daughters finally had to ‘get their father to drink wine so that they could lie down with him to have children from him’ (Genesis 19:30-36), children (Moab and Ben-Ammi) who became the ancestors of two nations Moabites and Ammonites that became enemies of Israel.

    To produce one incomprehensible story of God offering His son to be murdered as sacrifice for the sins of the world, see how many incomprehensible stories that must precede it!

  • Simon
    You read the bible like it's a box of fortune cookies

    Barely edible and tastes really stale ...

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