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Featured Non-literal interpretations of the Bible

Discussion in 'Comparative Religion' started by Orbit, Jun 10, 2016.

  1. Orbit

    Orbit I'm a planet

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    Seeing the intolerance and hate by Christians in my newsfeed every day, from anti-trans protests to this: http://www.rawstory.com/2016/06/geo...h-at-christian-gathering-let-his-days-be-few/ , I started thinking that a lot of intolerance could be eliminated by a non-literal interpretation of the Bible. This thread is for those of you who practice that to some extent.

    Background:
    Sola Scriptura, the doctrine that says the Bible is the one, literal, inerrant source of all religious truth, didn't exist in the early Christian church. It was a Protestant invention in the 1500s. Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy do not subscribe to this idea. I greatly admire the apophatic mystic theology of the early Eastern Orthodox church, which owes to mystic experience and not Biblical text.

    Sola Scriptura is responsible for science denial, for example the refusal to see the Genesis account of creation as the creation myth that it is, replete with borrowings from Sumerian myth, and just like any other creation myth around the world. Sola Scriptura leads to intolerance against women, gays, and nonbelievers because it refuses to see the Bible as a collection of writings, quite literally written by men who were products of a violent, patriarchal culture, time, and place.

    To fully appreciate the Bible, it needs to be contextualized as the mythologized history that it is, and understood anthropologically. When we do this, many of the negatives fall away. Some may say "If you do that, it's not Christianity any more!". No, it's not Christianity as YOU know it, but it is a Christianity. The idea that salvation depends on "correct" belief is a relatively modern one.

    Question:
    For those of you who do not interpret the Bible literally, how do you interpret it? What shifts in understanding does that produce? How does that change the religion and its message for you? How does the symbolism of the Bible reveal truths to you? Does your practice change the way you relate to others?

    Please no preaching about the "only" true Christianity. Thanks.
     
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  2. First Baseman

    First Baseman Retired athlete

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    When you say this,

    "To fully appreciate the Bible, it needs to be contextualized as the mythologized history that it is, and understood anthropologically."

    you make a wide assumption that most of the people in the world disagree with you about.

    So don't be too surprised when most Jews and Christians do not want to discuss anything with you concerning this subject.
     
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  3. Orbit

    Orbit I'm a planet

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    I think those for whom I posted this, where I said "This is for those who don't interpret the Bible literally" will not have a problem with that. If they do, they can of course say so. This is in Comparative Religion and not Christian DIR for a reason.
     
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  4. jeager106

    jeager106 Learning more about Jehovah.
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    What's in this post.^^^^^^^^^
    G'day.
     
  5. Burl

    Burl Active Member

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    Revelation 7:14 "Washed in the blood of the lamb" isn't taken literally I'm sure, which is associated with a non-literalism that people can accept.
     
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  6. Laika

    Laika Warning: Thought Crime in Progress
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    It may be worth looking up "old-earth creationism" as a more compatible view of creation with science that rejects the strictly literalist "Young earth creationism" based on genesis.
     
  7. Kapyong

    Kapyong Disgusted

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    Gday all :)

    Yes !

    None of the dozens of allegedly 'real' historical Jesii seemed at all plausible to me.

    It wasn't until I read Earl Doherty's theory that it fell into place for me :
    http://jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/home.htm

    Dr Richard Carrier's book "On The Historicity of Jesus" has further solidified the Jesus Myth theory :



    I take the view that Jesus Christ belief developed from a non-historical beginning in several phases :
    1. Jesus Christ was initially a purely heavenly or spiritual being - with a few details known to an early mystery-like cult of proto-Christians which included a Peter, and a James entitled 'brother of the Lord';

    2. expanded by Paul's visionary journey to Paradise in the Third Heaven - to a son-of-God who really was crucified, died, buried, and finally resurrected - all in Paradise in the Third Heaven;

    3. further expanded into a grand religious myth by the seminal Gospel of Mark - woven from the Jewish scriptures and the Greek mysteries - so good it was copied and expanded by others.
    The Gospels and their stories spread slowly among the earlier Jesus Christ communities, and were increasingly thought to be historical. There was no conspiracy, no hoax, no fraud or lies - just a series of beliefs and mis-understandings and gullibility turning a heavenly or mythical being into a supposedly historical person.

    You can find more on my arguments here :
    http://kapyong.5gbfree.com/ParadiseTheory.html


    Kapyong
     
  8. idav

    idav Being
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    Its kind of interesting because jesus didn't take the bible literally, He put so much symbolism and revamped the law to be about love. Spoke in metaphor and was surrounded by non-literal interpretation. Didn't even want to destroy cities like the good old days. The whole thing about punishment and judgement takes a back door and you start to be more accepting of other faiths, like Jesus tried to exemplify.
    Literal interpretation is in the minority. Even Israel is largely a secular state and Judaism doesn't need Christians to tell them to take their own book literally.
     
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  9. sun rise

    sun rise "Let there be peace and love among all"
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    I'm not a Christian but from my frame-of-reference the Bible contains Truth but is not truth. So I'm free to accept the statement of the two greatest commandments and the Sermon on the Mount as most likely very close to what Jesus actually said.
     
  10. Rick O'Shez

    Rick O'Shez Irishman bouncing off walls

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    I've studied the New Testament and I think it's actually more inspiring when one interprets it in a metaphorical way.
     
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  11. Palehorse

    Palehorse Active Member

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    I can't read Hebrew or Latin...all I can Interpret is the word Bible...:(
     
  12. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    Well, that was reasonably predictable. :D
     
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  13. Kapyong

    Kapyong Disgusted

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    Gday all,

    Yet another snide one-liner without any content, eh ?


    Kapyong
     
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  14. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    Good grief! "To fully appreciate the Bible," you might start by recognizing that much of it was Biblical Hebrew having nothing to do with Christianity.
     
  15. metis

    metis aged ecumenical anthropologist

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    You gotta remember that Kapyong is a "writer", and I'm quite certain that it's fiction that he specializes in.
     
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  16. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    Kapyong who?
     
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  17. Orbit

    Orbit I'm a planet

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    Did you see the part that said "This thread is for those who do NOT take the Bible literally"? If you want a thread discussing that the Bible has nothing to do with Christianity, you should start your own. As for what we call the OT being written in Hebrew in a Jewish cultural context, duh, no kidding. No one disputed that. Stop following me around derailing my threads.
     
    #17 Orbit, Jun 12, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2016
  18. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    Not taking the Bible literally can mean one of two things:
    1. It can mean not 'taking' the Bible as literal truth.
    2. It can mean not believing that the Biblical pericopes were intended to be taken literally.
    In either case it is meaningless to speak of the Bible (or even the Tanakh) as a whole in such terms. The cosmology of Genesis is not the same as the history of Kings which, in turn, is far different than the poetry found in Psalms, and it makes little sense to treat Proverbs and Job as similar in substance or intent.

    That said:
    • I do not accept the Tanakh as literal truth.
    • I do, however, believe that those sections of Hebrew scripture that present themselves as historical or etiological were intended as accurate portrayals.

    What I absolutely reject are pathetic attempts to read into the text in an effort to make millennia old narratives seem reasonable. Even more bankrupt are attempts to sanitize the text by those who have never taken the effort to understand what the text actually says or the cultural context in which it was understood.
     
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  19. lovemuffin

    lovemuffin τὸν ἄρτον τοῦ ἔρωτος

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    I think the OP was motiviated by a reflection on the way specific Christian groups read the Bible, which is why it ends up focusing on Christianity and not Judaism. But, I don't think Orbit disagrees with your point at all, for what it's worth. Recognizing the Jewish roots of biblical texts is part of reading it in historical or anthropological context. If Orbit (and this also applies to me) focuses more on Christianity it's mostly due to being more familiar with it. That said, the questions the OP asked about interpretation can be given Jewish answers as well, and I would be interested in them from your perspective. I am under the impression that Jewish methods of interpretation tend to be fairly distinct from Christian. How do think your methods (and the rabbinical tradition?) affect your reading of the texts?

    edit: excellent cross post! :D
     
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  20. Orbit

    Orbit I'm a planet

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    So your closing "comment" here is to insult the premise of the thread and the people who would post to it? Who is sanitizing the text? Is anyone in this thread acting as an apologist? I don't think so. If you don't like the thread, don't post in it.
     
    #20 Orbit, Jun 12, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2016
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