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Featured Should Scripture Be Taken Literally?

Discussion in 'Scriptural Debates' started by SalixIncendium, Dec 7, 2017.

  1. SalixIncendium

    SalixIncendium Resident Hermit
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    I watched a debate between Richard Dawkins and Cardinal Pell last night in which Cardinal Pell professes that the Catholic Church views the story of the Garden of Eden as "...a beautiful, sophisticated, mythological account." and that "...it’s a religious story told for religious purposes."



    Which begs the question, if one of the largest religious institutions in the world that uses the Bible conveys that there are parts of the Bible that should not be taken literally, and that they are "mythological," who has the authority to decide what parts of the Bible are to be taken literally and which ones are "stories told for religious purposes?"
     
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  2. Grandliseur

    Grandliseur Well-Known Member

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    Believers take what is meant to be taken literally literally; unbelievers take whatever they like and run with it as they like.
    Jesus surely took the account of Adam and Eve literally since that was the reason he came; at the same time, his parables were to be studied and the point they made to be used to grow in understanding. Revelation has symbolic language intermixed with literal language. Its interpretation is found in various places, and perhaps some parts still await to be revealed.

    Each person shall be judged according to their works and according to how they treat the Gospel of Christ. Judgment will be coming to all believer or not.
     
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  3. SalixIncendium

    SalixIncendium Resident Hermit
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    This didn't really answer the question posed in the OP, though, did it?

    What authority determines what Scripture is intended to be taken literally and what Scripture is meant to be taken as mythology that is open to interpretation?
     
  4. Laika

    Laika Well-Known Member
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    I don't think there is no such thing as "pure" literalism as human beings communicate and receive a message via a text. Its not simply the "text" but that there is a theology about the relationship between one part of the text and another. Its the same principle behind interpreting the Qu'ran for Muslims (and to an extent interpreting Marxist texts). So technically only those who have the background, education and expertise in understanding it within its context are going to make the most "authentic" interpretation. There is usually a long list of implied assumptions that go in to favouring one interpretation or another.

    However, that flies in the face of liberal assumptions that it is up to individuals to decide what they believe and how to interpret it. The problem with that is that it can be interpretation based on ignorance or taken certain quotations of scripture out of context that can distort its meaning. I'm more inclined to trust scholars than lay individuals if I want detailed guidance. So I guess I'm more conservative when it comes to reading scripture.
     
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  5. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    Such a (predictably) insightful answer. :D
     
  6. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    You, of course, and you have the authority to decide the degree to which it will be an informed decision.
     
  7. Augustus

    Augustus the Unreasonable

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    Strict literalism seems to be mostly a relatively modern fundamentalist Protestant phenomenon.

    During the process of canonisation of the texts, the contradictory aspects don't appear to have been seen as problematic, otherwise there would presumably have been more of an attempt to remove these contradictions.

    Who 'gets to decide' would depend on the religious tradition you belong to. Catholicism, I suppose, would at least be guided by the Church (but I could be wrong). For Protestants it would be more of a matter of personal interpretation. Not sure about other confessions.
     
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  8. Grandliseur

    Grandliseur Well-Known Member

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    I didn't think that was even open to discussion. If God has inspired the Bible as his Word, is the authority even in question?!

    Things found in the Bible are written so that it is clear whether it is to be taken historically or not. The rejection then is based not on what is found in the Bible but what the person's own heart determines s/he wants to believe.

    Only rejection as the Bible as God's word would let anyone reject its authority in which case we have nothing and all can claim anything, everything, and nothing to be true.

    Atheists, or evolutionists reject it, yet they lie and avoid explaining the huge number of boneyards that exist, the Guadeloupe woman whose find in really old rock would put much in doubt about what presently is claimed.
     
  9. pcarl

    pcarl Well-Known Member

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    There is no authority that decides definitively the interpretation of Scripture, not even the Catholic Church, which, with the exception of 7 verses of the entire Bible, admits possible interpretations. It is up to the believer whether to accept Scripture as written or to become familiar with the tools of Biblical scholarship. In either case all interpretation begins with the 'literal truth', which is 'that truth' which the author intended to convey, it does not include the narrative through which it is conveyed.

    The power of a religion lies in its stories, not simply as stories, but as vehicles of truth and, sometimes, profound truth.
     
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  10. Grandliseur

    Grandliseur Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the thoughtfully wrapped insult. :) Next time, please accompany this with a nicely wrapped box of chocolates. ;)

    I am indeed fairly predictable since I believe the Bible totally; though, not the faith of Judaism, but that of the Christian teachings by Sola Scriptura. As such, you will find that most of my insights are a matter of meat and potatoes type stuff, nothing fancy.
     
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  11. SalixIncendium

    SalixIncendium Resident Hermit
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    What does this have to do with the question of whether it should be taken literally or as mythology?

    Can you please cite specific examples? Let's start with Genesis and work from there.

    I don't think there was any mention of rejection of anything. This discussion is about interpretation.

    Let's stay on topic. If you want to start an E vs C debate, please do so in another thread. This one is about interpretation of Scripture.
     
  12. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon Well-Known Member
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    This represents the Catch-22 of Biblical interpretation. The historical evidence and scripture has determined that the Church Fathers, and authors of the gospels, and apostles believed in a literal Genesis in one degree or another, and the theology, doctrines and dogma of Christianity is in this foundation. Over time science, archaeological evidence, scholarship concerning the history of the text has revealed that this is an unteniable position, and the roots of Genesis and the Pentateuch are found to be unreliable as far as literal history and scripture. The authors are unknown, and the books were found to be edited and redacted from different sources such as Babylonian, Canaanite and Ugarit texts and mythology. It was also found that the present text of the Pentateuch dates only to ~700-600 BCE.

    The wide spread academic acceptance that Origin stories of Genesis is earlier mythology has created the problem that the Fall, Original Sin, and much of the doctrine and dogma of Christianity is indeed based on mythology. The has Created a large chasm between those that staunchly hold to a literal Genesis and authorship, and those that try to reinterpret Genesis to fit the evidence, which I believe both fail.
     
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  13. Grandliseur

    Grandliseur Well-Known Member

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    I would think not, since if God is the author, and the writers secretaries of a sort, one would think that if a church, a person, takes what God meant literally and just tells others it simply is stories for children with a moral, that God might be very unhappy with this person:
    The Jews of ancient times, would not dare to remove a letter or anything from what was considered inspired scripture. About this, Revelation states of its contents:
    18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

    Unfortunately, because so many denominations exist, it is obvious that what you say in the above quote is true here on earth, but, this does not mean that God approves of what we are doing.
     
  14. Grandliseur

    Grandliseur Well-Known Member

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    Excuse me! If Genesis describes a series of events as historically, and you do not take this literally, I would think it has everything to do with what your question here asks about.
    No thank you. I have other things to do than do this. It is a fairly obvious thing that none should have trouble with. If you have trouble with something, let me know! ;)
    At times claiming that what is stated as being history is not, is just outright rejection. It has nothing to do with interpretation.

    If I tell someone, 'Go fly a kite' - depending on the situation, you might be right in having to interpret it.
    Thank you for making this clear. I hate to have a scriptural conversation side tracked by atheists.
     
  15. Grandliseur

    Grandliseur Well-Known Member

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    As you can see, I put in bold and red that which is why we have the problem among some. This is a clear unbeliever and believer conflict. Once this is accepted, the "Bible is inspired by God' goes down the drain and satan has won without a fight.

    A belief in God also means that we know for a fact that God has caused his inspired word to be conserved for us through time and with the Christian writings made 'perfect' for all good works, for teaching, for setting things straight, and for teaching us the Gospel of Christ that can lead a person to salvation.

    The above kind of scholar be damned, and I hope they shall be as even Paul said:
    I Corinthians 16:22:
    If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha. ​
    Those who nullify the ransom and what it entails, Adam & Eve, the fall into sin, etc. also reject the ransom and what it means; these shall be cursed by God himself.
     
  16. sayak83

    sayak83 Well-Known Member

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    Catholics have extensive theological and hermeneutical literature that one can look at. It also tolerates a relatively wide diversity of views within these fields (not so for many socio-political problems unfortunately). One will have to look at them and decide for oneself.

    How is Vedanta study circle going? :)
     
  17. SalixIncendium

    SalixIncendium Resident Hermit
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    But a major authority has taken the stance that at least a portion of Genesis is mythology. Science conflicts with at least some of the historicity in Genesis, and it would appear certain Christian authorities are realizing this and changing their position. Given this information, would it not be wise to admit that at least some of what the Bible posits is myth?

    Since you choose not to back your claim up with evidence, I will choose to lend this claim the credence it deserves.
     
  18. SalixIncendium

    SalixIncendium Resident Hermit
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    They were a bit dogmatic for my taste and I felt a bit uncomfortable and at times 'in the way' at some of their rites. They may or may not have picked up on this, as they haven't offered me a meeting location in a few weeks. I didn't pursue so it was possibly a sort of a mutual discomfort. I'm back to independent study.
     
  19. sayak83

    sayak83 Well-Known Member

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    Sorry to hear that. :(
    Let's discuss in the Hindu Dir forum. Sad to see ppl feeling excluded due to divergent views in a study group.
     
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  20. pcarl

    pcarl Well-Known Member

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    Do you think the final editing of what we now have as the Pentateuch kept the numerous oral traditions word for word?
     
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