Monday, October 15, 2007

Further Down the Rabbit Hole

I feel like i didn't go far enough with explaining the Bible and it's formation. The whole point is that the formation is very complicated. So much so that some things will seem alien or counter to what we've been traditionally taught.

let's name my primary assumption. the Bible is worth reading and investigating it's origin. This collection of works has been cited throughout history. some would say it is the backbone of western culture, so i would say it's pretty influential. so what is the bible?

it is not a history book as it doesn't match up with other histories in the areas directly. it doesn't mention a lot of heavy hitters that influenced it... like alexander the great! he's sort of a big deal in the history of the region, but the bible does not mention him although most of the prose in it is a direct greek immitation.

it is more than a hallmark of literature. most like the entire cultures of Jewish, Christian, and Muslims would agree that it's God's dealing with people over the ages. this is the world viewed theologically.

the Bible is very fuild. some books were already written and being copied and distributed while others were being written. it was not circulated between two covers but as individual scrolls. communities had differing stories. even though some had the same stories, there were differences between those! some scrolls were widely distributed early and then died off and vice versa.

for example the Christian Testament pretty much had the 4 gospels and 10 Pauline letters widely distributed. James, 2&3 Peter, and Revelations struggled early but made it into the final canon. Barnabus and the Apocalypse of Peter started early but didn't make it to the canon. however the ideas stayed around and Dante's Inferno was written based on the Apocalypse of Peter.

The Bible started to stabilize for both Christians and Jews in the 4th century. Cananizations not up to a small group but it was rather inclusive. large segment of communities that already held scrolls to be central, holy, or authoritative. there was also a typical Middle Eastern process that puts differing and contradictory traditions into a single book. Just ready Numbers and then Deuteronomy or Paul and James and you'll know that there's a lot of stuff that doesn't stack up easily in the Bible. This is a huge problem for fundies who read the Bible 100% literally. This fact makes a literal interpretation of the Bible impossible because it's not build on linear thinking. it's built on Jewish non-linear thought. It is built so that different groups can form their own canons out of the Canon.

the dead sea scrolls confirm this whole process. the dead sea scrolls are pretty much the entire TaNaK (what we would call the "old" testament, but more on this later) with the exception of Esther. There are also more additions to certain books like Daniel and Numbers. This really is the most important find in the 20th century for biblical studies and has lead to the revision of the Bible many times.... and yes... the BIBLE is being CHANGED! even today!

so in conclusion, i'll restate my stance on the Bible. THe Bible is complex in it's reading and in it's formation. The Bible, I would argue, is not without errors. There are a ton of questionable translations since Hebrew is a pun-based sometimes vowel-less language. the copying of this book isn't perfect and any bible scholar worth their salt will admit this. I do believe the bible to be infallable. i do believe there there is enough in the Bible that it will never let you down if you're looking for an answer. this is also the reason people can be pro-choice or pro-life and be scriptually supported for either stance.

keep it tuned! up next: What to call the Old Testament!


Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to have you post scripture that supports pro-choice.

Luke said...

yeah.. i'd have no problem with that.. but that won't be until waaaay later... so keep checking!

i will be taking a BioEthics class later on... looking forward to it!

Cameron said...

Please read this and feel free to appologize for suggesting that the Bible does mention Alexander the Great.

Luke said...

well you're a 1/3 right.. so here's my 1/3 appology. of all the commentaries i checked out at the library this morning about 1/4 said that yes this is alexander the great.. the others said that since daniel was in the babylonian exile period, that he was refering to a babylonian warlord who discraced the temple.. others point and say that it was a hellenist period general that made sacrifices to pagan gods in the Jewish 2nd temple.. it all depends on where you want to put daniel.

Anonymous said...

Cameron must be one of those fundies you keep talking about. I read Daniel much differently mostly because of the history behind the text, not the history the text presents. These are not "prophecies" meant for our times. These "prophecies" were not written before the events that they are talking about occur.. take for example Daniel..

The problem with this is that Daniel has been edited! here there was a ruler named Antiochus Ephianes IV who put forth an agressive hellenization process.

Part of this was putting greek pagan worship in the temple. The Jews then wrote Daniel in response to this but were smart enough to guise it in a form of "prophecy."

So these prophecies are subversive political documents. I read Revelation is in response to the Romans and Pilate and Nero and all that.

Ignorance is bliss, so believe whatever, but don't mistake the fact that this is your beliefs on this text, not what the text actually says.