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Featured Systematic disparagement of Biblical Literalism in Scholarly Biblical studies.

Discussion in 'Science and Religion' started by Xavier Graham SA, Jul 6, 2021.

  1. Xavier Graham SA

    Xavier Graham SA God is Love, is love, is love. OM, AV KAH AHH!

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    When I say Scholarly Biblical studies, I mean just what the name implies. Studies and research put forth by so called prestigious college institutions and organizations on the topic of the Bible. I am getting my personal frame of reference from the Anchor Bible Series. It is published and produced by Yale University. It is a book series which systematically studies the individual books of the Bible through scholarly means. Personally, the series has been very useful, as it dives into the science of the text: understanding it in it’s original language, describing the culture of the time, etc.. It generally ascribes legitimacy to the Deuteronomistic Historical theory. This theory hypothesizes multiple authors for each of the Old Testament books, not accepting people like Moses as the authentic authors. The authors of the Anchor Bible series, who are called scholars, always speak very dismissively of Biblical Literalism. This is a paraphrase, but very close to a quote, found in several of the books from the series I’ve read so far. “Biblical Literalism *purports some theory contrary to author opinion*, however, Biblical Literalism is not considered in serious inquiries of Biblical studies, so we can disregard that view entirely.”
    Besides this book series, when researching the prophecies of Daniel 11, I have found much evidence supporting that it was written well before the prophesied events. (This particular chapter contains over 100 prophecies, some pertaining to the division of Alexander the Greats kingdom amongst his generals.) The Biblical “scholar” holds that this chapter must have been written well after the prophesied events. When reading the arguments to support this claim, published on college websites, I have been amused. The arguments go something like “yes, there is evidence supporting that the book was written before the events it prophesied about, however, it is impossible for a book to tell the future so it had to be written at a later date.” That is their argument. That it is impossible for the book to tell accurate prophesies, I.e. it is impossible for God to be real. Is this not a non scientific approach that Biblical scholars take? From my perspective, it seems that being condescending towards Biblical Literalism has been systematically normalized among “serious Biblical scholars.” It permeates to all the college institutions that are secular it seems.
    The danger of this prevalent condescending attitude towards this view is that it restricts scholarly research, in my opinion. I think an example of this is the theory of panBabylonianism, PanBabyloniansm was a theory that was hypothesized in the late 1890’s. It said that all of the world religions could be traced back to Babylonian religion. A archeologist was the one who founded the theory, and he attempted to gather evidence, but shortly died after. A couple years later, a scholarly paper was published, disputing his theory. It said that the theory was a result of having that silly Biblical Literalist view, and looking for evidence to support it. Just like that, panBabylonianism was considered disproved and no further research has been done since then. The panBabylonianism theory is the one a Biblical literalist would find themselves supporting naturally, as they believe all man came from Babylon at the Tower of Babel.
    To conclude, I think that it is that a majority of “Biblical scholars” have an unscientific stance, when it comes to their view on Biblical Literalism, and furthermore, their stance on God Himself. As they do not even consider it a possibility that God is real and the Bible is literal, they restrict the scientific study of the Bible. It frustrates me greatly, as I take this condescending attitude rather personally. I usually end up scribbling angrily into the bookmarks next to the passages that quote such views. :)
    Does anyone else perceive this systematic disparagement of Biblical literalism?
     
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  2. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Veteran Member
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    Wellhousen founded the Documentary Hypothesis, and it was discussion about this which became the basis for various schools about the various authors who may have contributed. It was understood that the hypothesis would have flaws, but it was based upon the problem of explaining why God seemed to have two names in the texts. Since everyone thought that these two names 'El' and 'L-RD' were speaking of the same being, a natural question arose. Why the two different names? That was enough for a fairly scientific question to arise. So it actually did all arise from a scientific attempt, and they have tried to maintain discipline and to not use assumptions.

    On the other hand they have made assumptions, but they've been very obvious about them. They can withdraw the assumptions and remake the models. They have to do this, because they need models about which to collect data and sort it. There is a lot of data -- so many pots, cities, kings, armies, lies and truths. Someone has to sift through it all and put everything into Rolodexes. Learning works best when you have a tree structure for your knowledge.

    So, then, why do people believe in this? Well....its because...its convenient both for them and for religionists. Maybe it keeps the scholars from asking inconvenient questions. After all they have stopped asking why 'El' and 'L-RD' are both used to describe God, haven't they? It puts that question to rest if not others. That is the main question, and having an answer stops people asking the question.

    It could also be for other reasons. Numerous texts in Genesis appear to be altered versions of much older works. This would tend to support many of the ideas in the Documentary Hypothesis. This sort of evidence has increased over time. We now have the text of the Gilgamesh Epic, and you can read it for free on the internet. It predates Noah's flood story. We also have stories from the tombs of the Pharoahs, and many of these predate Genesis which appears to be a much altered version, or rather a completely different story put together from elements from these other more ancient stories.
     
    #2 Brickjectivity, Jul 6, 2021
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2021
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  3. Truthseeker9

    Truthseeker9 Well-Known Member

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    I disparage literalism. As to Daniel, I honestly don't know. I don't believe Moses wrote the first five books of the OT. The history of the OT is questionable at best. I believe the prophets scripture after Moses are close to what they actually wrote.
     
    #3 Truthseeker9, Jul 7, 2021
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2021
  4. Harel13

    Harel13 Am Yisrael Chai
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    They have?
    Wait, are you referring to their conclusion that these names refer to separate entities?
     
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  5. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Veteran Member
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    Yes. They wanted that answer...or I think a lot of people liked that answer. I think liking the answer has something to do with the acceptance of it. Its exciting to overturn established thinking. Its interesting, creates an opening for multiple avenues. Its also a way to sort the texts, and people like to sort things.
     
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  6. Xavier Graham SA

    Xavier Graham SA God is Love, is love, is love. OM, AV KAH AHH!

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    I guess my point of contention is that I disagree with most scholars refusal to even consider literalism. I believe that one can entertain a view that they don’t agree with. This is most important in theological and philosophical discussion and debate. As a literalist, I can see how people believe that the Bible is not a literal account. I like to believe that I understand why people believe it is not God made, and hope I can empathize with their point of view. I at the very least try, and that opens my personal studies to their evidences. The work put forth by the Documentary Hypothesis I find enlightening, even though I disagree with the overall conclusion. Their refusal to even consider literalism as hypothetically viable restricts their vision on the topic. It limits the conclusions that are available to them, which harms the scientific process as a whole. I don’t mean to just repeat myself here, I just think that the condescending attitude towards it is inherently an unscientific approach. Like, they have their conclusions already decided before examining the evidence. One can charge the literalist of the same thing, I suppose. With me I like to think it not to be the case, and with most scholars it appears they already have their minds decided on the Bible’s legitimacy before even beginning the study.
     
  7. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Veteran Member
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    I can't say for sure why, because I don't know what archeological evidence exists for thinking that the Northern and Southern kingdoms would use different names and then merge them into a single text. Maybe there is some evidence but I don't remember reading about it in Karen Armstrong's book. I think its just theoretical that there were different names in the north and south and then that they got merged.
     
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  8. Harel13

    Harel13 Am Yisrael Chai
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    ^This.

    But to be fair to their criticism of Bible Literalism, I likely equally mock Bible Criticism.
    As an example, I have in my possession a book that is unfortunately out of print. It's a book in Hebrew whose title translates to "Isaiah was one". It's a philological work of art written I believe around the 60's by Rachel Margulies and its sole purpose is to show that when all parts of the Book of Isaiah are compared philologically and textually, they perfectly match. 100%. No evidence of any sort of split or some prophet that latched onto "the original Isaiah" or whatever.

    I've never believed in the division of Isaiah, but now I really roll my eyes when I hear people tout this claim. When people are willing to be honest about it, the only thing that can stand to some scrutiny is Isaiah prophesying about Cyrus. There really is no other textual evidence that there were two prophets. But Bible Critics are generally unable to admit this.
     
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  9. Xavier Graham SA

    Xavier Graham SA God is Love, is love, is love. OM, AV KAH AHH!

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    My general assumption and maybe not scientifically sound view when it comes to cases like these is that their should be natural deviation from a singular author, the work is written over the course of their lives. I know my writing style has changed over the past few years alone. I imagine by the time I’m old, it will have changed as well. So if a prophet is a writing a book over the course of his life, it makes sense to me if stylistic changes come to light. Bible Critics on the other hand use it as evidence for multiple authors
     
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  10. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Veteran Member
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    Its interesting that the philology (etc) does not indicate multiple Isaiahs; but would it matter if there were multiple Isaiahs?
     
  11. Harel13

    Harel13 Am Yisrael Chai
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    This is another excellent point. I first heard this a couple of months ago from a well-known Israeli rabbi. He explained that many Biblical Criticism theories were pushed by German scholars in the 19th and 20th century. Why is it important ot state that they were German? Because of the German mindset that everything must be orderly and precise and unchanging. In Jewish slang it's called being a "Yekkeh". In this context, it's an inability to fathom that someone's writing style could change over the course of their life.
     
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  12. Harel13

    Harel13 Am Yisrael Chai
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    Others might have other reasons, but I'd say it's a matter of belief: Do you believe that God is capable of transmitting detail-specific prophecies to His prophets or not? Do you believe that prophets truly did converse with God, or were they merely their era's equivalent of political analysts?
     
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  13. Hockeycowboy

    Hockeycowboy Well-Known Member
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    Everything I see that seems to be a popular view, I am very skeptical because, IMO, the statement made by the Apostle John @ 1 John5:19b.....
    1 John 5:19 We know that we are of God, and that the whole world is under the power of the evil one.
    ....is extremely accurate!

    I think the following video brings a perspective that many aren’t aware of:

    https://www.jw.org/en/jehovahs-witnesses/request-a-visit/video-why-study-the-bible/

    (just my opinion)

    Take care.
     
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  14. Truthseeker9

    Truthseeker9 Well-Known Member

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    This is my edited version, @Xavier Graham SA, sorry I had to edit it.
    I'm not sure I know what you mean by literalism, come to think of it. To me literalism is not interpreting scripture symbolically. My faith tells me not to be literal in many cases in interpreting scripture. It also makes scripture which seems like a jumble of contradictions more clear.

    Scripture is inspired in many places in the OT, but that doesn't mean that God dictated it. The conclusion that Moses didn't write the first five books of the OT doesn't mean it is meaningless, that there is no inspiration from God that reached these writers. As to the reported words of Moses, we can have no assurance that every word He said is accurate. The words of Moses is more accurate than the history of these books of the Bible in my view because of the great importance the Hebrews would have put in those words. The history is much less important, and indeed what may be recounted is symbolical accounts mostly rather that historical accounts.

    There is a lack of evidence of the 10 plagues of Egypt in Egyptian history, and indeed they had written records. In addition the have been able to confirm the Hebrews in Egypt. I do believe, however, that a much smaller group of Hebrews was in Egypt than is recounted in the Bible. Otherwise, the situation is simply rationally impossible to believe. Read The Exodus by Richard Elliot Friedman for the evidence for an actual presence of Moses and Hebrews in Egypt and Exodus but a smaller level. He also concludes that there was no invasion of Canaan. I see it a little different than his conclusion. I believe that the Levi tribe only remained in Egypt after a time, and it was they who Moses led out of Egypt, and then they rejoined their fellow Hebrews in Israel.

    The chronicles of the Kings and such is not reliable. Did you know that no one mentioned Solomon in the area around Israel and Judea? The description of him being so rich and influential in the Bible cannot be true. No mention of David at his time, either. Their importance then had to be not on a physical plane, but on a spiritual plane. The Hebrews exaggerated their physical exploits because they didn't understand these Kings real significance spiritually. In Islam they are considered minor prophets which the Baha'is have adopted as their heirs. There was evidence later of the House of David. So David did exist.
     
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  15. Truthseeker9

    Truthseeker9 Well-Known Member

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    I think the basis for that is that the prophecies and events describes seem to be in different times, that make it seem improbable that one man wrote it all. There may be more than that, I don't know. If the only reason is that one man couldn't have lived over the whole time frame, it does seem possible, at least that the prophet foresaw future situations. If there is more to it than that we would have to take that into consideration.
     
  16. epronovost

    epronovost Well-Known Member

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    Why should it even be consider a viable hypothesis? For literalism to be considered viable, every single detail in the narrative of the text would have to be exact or at least potentially exact. To falsify literalism you would only need to point a single thing that is false or exaggerated and there are many. Amongst them we have the fall of Jericho for example. Jericho was basically a ghost city at the time it should have been conquered as it had been destroyed by Egyptians about three century prior. Another important one is the Exodus itself. We have no traces of it anywhere neither of the Plagues which ravaged Egypt prior to it and genetic evidence that points to it never taking place either. Why would anybody give any credit to a hypothesis which has already been falsified. At best you could try to defend a triumphalist view which holds that while the Bible does contain errors, it still gets most of its fact straight (but important events like the Exodus never taking place would also discredit that view).

    PS: Which passage in the Bible mention, by name, either Alexander the Great or any of his general, his brother, his half-sister, his father's right hand man, his mother or his wife and son (or even all of them)? Hell which passage of the Bible specifically refer to the Macedonians? You see, it's very easy to make "prediction" without mentioning names of specific people, places and dates. It's especially easy if, in addition to be vague about the "who" and "when", you are vague about the specifics of the "what" and "how" and draw inspiration from what happened in the past and the present. I could easily make you a prophecy about the future collapse of the future Chinese hegemony, though anybody reading it could think it refers to the collapse of the current US hegemony, or the collapse of the prior UK hegemony, or the collapse of the even prior to that French hegemony and the prior to that collapse of the Ottoman hegemony, etc. Almost all great imperial power collapse in similar ways.
     
    #16 epronovost, Jul 7, 2021
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  17. Harel13

    Harel13 Am Yisrael Chai
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    Until the 90's, people didn't believe in David either. Why are you so certain no evidence of Solomon may be found?
     
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  18. Truthseeker9

    Truthseeker9 Well-Known Member

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    I'm not saying that Solomon didn't exist. After all evidence was found that the House of David existed, and Solomon didn't found this house. Who knows what may be found in the future?
     
  19. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Veteran Member
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    To me I am not anything like Isaiah, but I still compare and contrast myself. I can't help it. Unlike me, Isaiah is not driven to feel important. He's Ok with being a normal person. He likes being one more person, and for him being alive is enough. Therefore greatness is thrust upon him. I on the other hand wish any sort of claim on Isaiah's greatness even if its only to claim that I understand him, therefore I can't even trust my own opinions about him. Nor can anyone, not really. I'm too blinded by desire, craving even the scraps of his awesome respectability.

    Comparing Isaiah to a modern so called prophet: Edgar Cayce is famous for being "The Sleeping Prophet." I don't believe in the stories about him though. They've got to be bunk, but then again I haven't investigated them. If I believed them I'd feel unintelligent and therefore unimportant. My skepticism is precious to me. I have to deny things and be different from other people. So I'm both enamored of prophets and driven to be skeptical about them. I just cannot deal with them.

    When it comes to prophecy and people with super connections to the spiritual realms, I can't trust anything that I decide about it. I think perhaps if my connection to God were terribly strong I might go insane from the pride of it. I'm always going to be a skeptic and probably for my own sanity.
     
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  20. Harel13

    Harel13 Am Yisrael Chai
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    You wrote "no one mentioned him".
     
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