Is the Bible true?

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Imported, Aug 26, 2003.

  1. Imported

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    sudas: This was the name of a book I bought, but the content wasn't what I thought it would be. It talks about archeologists finding previously lost sites of cities and towns that may match ones mentioned in the Bible.

    I was looking for a book by a certain Biblical scholar. He had pursued the origins of the Bible. His findings were accepted, but his teachings were deeply disturbing to many of his students who were Biblical Literalists. Because they believed that every word of the Bible comes down to us unchanged and divinely inspired Truth, when they faced evidence that this was not so, it threatened their faith. That hadn't been the scholar's intent.

    My own ideas before reading about this scholar (whose name I don't remember), was that the Bible has been in the "hands of man" for millenia. How can we be certain that sections might not be twisted, lost, or things added that shouldn't be there?

    I have found evidence for my supposition in the Dead Sea Scrolls. There is a section of IISamuel that jumps a paragraph, due to scribal error, because the lines start with the same word or phrase. The Dead Sea Scrolls have the missing paragraph, which makes the narrative easier to follow.

    Another source is the Gospel of Thomas. It was found by an early sect of Christianity in Egypt. This particular document, although unaccepted by the church, purports to list sayings of Jesus (some of which match those in the accepted Gospels), but without the narrative. The form is a list that looks like this:
    >Jesus said,...
    >Jesus said,...
    >They said to him... and Jesus said...

    One in particular strikes me:
    >They asked him, "should we pay taxes?"
    >Jesus said, "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's, and to me what is mine."

    I find this fascinating, since the last is different from our Gospels. However, no one with whom I've talked is at all interested in seeing a "corrected" Bible. I believe the Literalists' view of the Bible can't hold up under scrutiny.

    I thought about putting this under Religion thread, but that is already too long for me to read from start to finish.
     
  2. Imported

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    H8Monga: I have had many debates (and I guess I lost them all since I tend to lose debates) over this and my belief is that the Bible is a history book and a guide on how to live life so that it is happy, meaningful, successful, selfless, courteous... etc in the positive as well as a guide to having a happy afterlife. It's probably one of the first history text books! However, I believe it's been edited over the years particularly by people who wanted to control people. Think about the rulers and kings who were thought of as being chosen by God to lead them and the common people couldn't read. The people relied on the church to teach them and at times they took what they knew and used that to help interpret what they heard. When Christianity spread to Europe, it seemed that the Europeans pictured everyone in the Bible as European instead of Arabic, but that was what they knew in their world. As for the rulers, they could have edited it in any way they wanted.

    Is the Bible true? I believe it is for the most part. Noah's flood was based on Gilgamesh's story. The oldest books were told orally for centuries before they were written and things change in story-telling. However, even if the story changes, it was still recording an event.

    One thing I've oftened wondered about the Bible is, Adam and Eve were the first people. They had three sons. That's five people. Their sons had wives. Where did they come from? And wasn't Lilith a part of that story too?

    There are also "lost books" that some denominations use. If I can recall something I thought I learned in Bible class in 7th grade was that there was a coucil that finalized the Bible as it is, excluding some books.

    Either way, since it may be hard to tell what was touched and what was left untouched, omitted or whatever, it's safe to follow it as it is with an open mind but not gaping open. I am no Biblical scholar and I should try to read it cover to cover one day instead of piece here and piece there, but whatever is there, it's divinely inspired.

    Hope that makes sense in some way...
     
  3. Ralexx

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    To be rather short and irreverent : it's a nice book, and some parts are gorgeously written. I mean the Proverbs, the Psalsm, and there is the other one - whose name in English I do not know - composed by Solomon. That is in the Old Testament. Don't take it ad litteram (risking, otherwise, to lose faith, especially if you like to be rational a bit).

    The New Testament is by far better. There's the REAL MESSAGE.

    PS - the Apocalypse ? For me, that's the first surrealist novel ever written !!! Bravo ! (... even though there are some amazing coincidences with the world of today... :eek: )
     
  4. Imported

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    oldman9x7: Excellent, Nony. Many years ago I studied at a Quaker university and much of what you presented here was brought out in their Bible and Religion studies. If you ever feel so disposed, I, for one, would enjoy reading more results of your research and study.

    Gramps
     
  5. Imported

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    Dantesco: Whether or not the Bible is true depends on your definition of "truth". The Old Testament was not intended to be a history book except in the sense that it contains the history of the Jewish people according to oral tradition. It contains poetry and folk traditions. Its a story of spiritual history, not physical history. It seeks to explain the contract of the people of Israel with Yahweh. It tells of the rewards of following that contract and the consequencesof rejecting it. Is it historically accurate? No. Are some of the historical facts verifiable? Yes. It is a collection of books concerning the spiritual journey of a particular people and is an undeniably valuable anthology, but should be recognized for what it is rather than be thought of as a history textbook.
    The New Testament is a different type of work. It begins with biographies of Jesus of Nazareth (the Gospels) that are followed by books, mostly epistles,that chronicle the early development of the movement begun by Jesus. It shows the growth of the Christian religion and how it went beyond its Jewish roots and was embraced by the Gentiles. But it also is not a history book in the usual sense. The historical data gives context, but is not central to the nessage of the New Testament.
    Revelation/Apocalypse? Poetry, symbolism, numerology, Jewish mythology, Gnostic tradition. Some people take the book literally, but its obvious to most theologians that its written in a first century "secret code". Many say that its not about the end of the world at all, but about the end of the persecution of the Christians by the pagan Roman Empire. Think about it: do you really think that first century Christians who had to hide their religion for fear of their lives gave a damn about the end of the world? Probably not.
    So is the Bible true? Spiritual truth rather than historical truth is its objective, and that it attains.
     
  6. jonb

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    Raal's right. We don't rely on voodoo-like paternity test/abortion combo platters anymore. (It's somewhere in Numbers.) We don't believe in 500-foot giants. So maybe Eden is an allegory (much like leaving the womb), and maybe the world's over 6000 years old. Sodom and Gamorrah didn't really exist.
     
  7. Imported

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    prepstudinsc: I believe the Bible is true, but I also believe that most people have taken things so out of context that the interpretations that are often presented are false.
    I was for a long time a member of a Pentecostal church, whose heritage was in the dead center of the "Holiness" movement. This manifested itself in lots of legalistic doctrines, such as women not cutting their hair, no jewelry on men or women, no swimming in mixed company of men/women, no drinking, no dancing, etc. All of these doctrines were backed up by passages of Scripture, however, they picked and chose select verses to use. Most of the time, the verses were in the middle of some passage that when read as a whole made perfect sense and were not overly legalistic, but when a single line or two is taken out of its context, it can be twisted and manipulated into being anything you want it to be. I think that misinterpretation of Scripture is one of humankind's worst traits--we use it to justify our unholy actions. That's why wars are fought in Jesus' name. That's why abortion clinics are bombed in Jesus' name. That's why people who don't fit in someone's realm of understanding are harassed or threatened by supposed Christians in a feeble attempt to convert them to Christianity.

    Jesus was a controversial man in his day. He hung around with a bunch of misfits, he talked to the "unclean", he spoke to tax collectors and whores, but most of all, he shared God's love. Yes, the Bible does have some specific rules that we have to follow, but God ordained those things for our benefit. God also gave us minds to think and to reason. God expects us to use our brains and not to be dumbed down and force fed some kind of misquoted scripture in order to promote one person's agenda.

    Ok, I'm going to shut up now because I have really gotten on a soapbox. lol But the bottom line for me is, yes, I believe in the Bible. I believe it is God's word. I believe that it is truth. I also believe that it is not meant to be a harmful book, but one that uplifts, empowers, encourages, teaches and edifies the believer, unlike what many TV evanglists would have us believe.
     
  8. Imported

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    H8Monga: prep I agree with you especially about things taken out of context to back whatever someone wants.

    *hands soapbox back*

    Preach!
     
  9. Ralexx

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    Nony, splendid exposée !! ;)
     
  10. Imported

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    Javierdude22: Woow....

    And i mean that in the 'Joey-Blossom' kinda way...

    See, i'm actually learning some stuff here man. Nony, Dantesco, thanx.

    For me personally, the bible is one tough cookie. Not so much in understanding what it means, but more objectively, putting it in perspective with reality.

    The bible is not, and should not, be considered a historybook i think. Or at least, its not what its meant for. And if all things happened like they are mentioned? Probably not, many stories might be told with a hidden meaning, maybe certain aspects might not have been meant, like the meaning we give it today. 7 days....what is a day in God's eye? However, i do believe that the scriptures, with the historycontext they are given, are true in their basic meaning.

    Revelation....yes...now there is a controversial one. Im not sure if being scared for his Christian belief had anything to do with John writing Revelation. Didnt he write them in exile on a Greek Island (Rhodos??). If i can be pretentious for just a sec ;), i can pretty much safely say Revelation is not about the end of Roman oppression. Surreal, yes it was, as they were visions or dreams given to John. The description do have a surreal touch, but....its the end of the world, and the beginning of a new one :-/ so i think that overrides any form of reality already. I think it is an extremely hard book to read, even scholars struggle with it, but its general message is there, and one of them indeed is: there wíll be an end to the suffering of this world, and a better one ahead.

    But i do doubt from time to time about how the bible was put together, how the stories were passed on through the generations, and the motives used to use certain sentences (by the responsible person i mean) But i guess thats just something we wont really know.
    What i personally have been taught, and believe, is that each person, like Nony said, was divinely inspired or directly spoken to by God. God asks John directly to write down what he sees, and presto, we have Revelation. So i just accept it, and work around, or with certain doubts, like we all do.
     
  11. Imported

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    SpeedoGuy: Papi, that was a good post. Well said.

    I'm no biblical scholar either but here's my own observation: There seem to be as many interpretations of scripture as there are readers of scripture.

    SG
     
  12. Imported

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    oldman9x7: Along that line, Speedo, it has long been my feeling that the meaning of the bible IS different for various readers and students. For example, you might read a certain passage and glean a particular meaning from it while I might read the same thing and it would speak to me in an entirely different way - AND WE'D BOTH BE RIGHT!

    I have to get a dig in here at those who would have you believe that they have been entrusted with all the answers. There are, I'm sure you're all aware, certain denominations and sects who will exhort you to join their "Bible study class" so that you can learn how to interpret and understand The Book. It is my contention that their primary aim is to convey what THEY think and then possibly you will be more easily "converted" and SAVED!!!! (and don't forget to be generous when the collection plate is passed.)

    Gramps
     
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