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Featured The shaky road of Biblical literalism

Discussion in 'Scriptural Debates' started by Onoma, Aug 5, 2020.

  1. Onoma

    Onoma Active Member

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    Quite often I see the things in the Hebrew Bible presented as 100% literal word for word accounts of events that actually happened / existed

    ~ The Garden of Eden and the serpent
    ~ The flood and the ark
    ~ The firmament

    etc

    Now, I personally believe the Bible is " God's word ", .....however,...... after spending a ridiculous amount of time investigating Mesopotamian and Egyptian literature, and especially the literature associated with / maintained by priest-kings ( Considered god-men and deified in literature ) and priests, my views on what constitutes " God's word " is drastically different from those of someone who normally says they think the Bible is " God's word "

    I do not, for example, believe the Torah was magically telepathically transmitted to Moses, yet I believe the Bible contains some things taken from earlier literature belonging to priests that were written to have been " guided " by what were known as " tutelary deities " ( Common in the antiquities ) and this literature was the " word / words " of " god / gods " ( Which the texts themselves specifically say in their colophons )

    For example, the Bible refers to the " Garden in Eden ", yet a " garden " in the days the Bible sprang from, was a unit of measurement used by priests and priest-kings for the purpose of mathematical astronomy ( Predicting and calculating / recording the times and locations of " signs in the sky " ). Not only was a " garden " a unit of measurement, but a number ( 3600 ) used in those calculations, and on top of also being a number, it would represent several words

    ( In linguistics, this is known as " polysemy " , where something can have multiple meanings - semiosis )

    " Eden ", on the other hand, is a Sumerian word meaning "plain, steppe, open country " ( Akkadian:edinu )

    " eden " is where one would make their observations, if they happened to be an astronomer / scribe / priest, because a flat, open area is where they would use the convention of a " firmament ", ( What they referred to as " supuk same " ) which is actually a horizontal coordinate system that invokes simple plane geometry ( A flat space )

    ( Interestingly Isaac Newton noted that the dimensions given for Solomon's Temple were actually based on the formula for the volume of a hemisphere - a dome )

    This " dome ", the hemispherical coordinate system, ( Often misconstrued by academics and laypeople as being the evidence they thought the earth is flat...lol ) as was used for recording the times and locations, angles and such, of these events ( " signs in the sky ) in ephemerides ( Tables of astronomical observations ) and passed down through the years through different generations of a very specific lineage of priests, using units like cubits, horns, grains, etc, all of which were based around the use of some rather complex dimensional analysis that also involved the use of figurate numbers ( very unorthodox )

    It was the literary norm to refer to new moon, as a " flood " in literature ( The reasons for which are quite interesting, we can discuss them if you like ), and later in the New Babylonian period they they began to refer to eclipses as " floods " in literature along with new moons

    In addition, both " flood " and " deluge " were also used as sobriquet ( Nicknames in literature ) to refer to people, specifically, priests, priest-kings and rulers who were god-men, who also happened to be responsible for recording the times of " floods " ( A sacerdotal duty of a priest )

    You can actually see this convention of referring to a person as a " flood " maintained in later Biblical literature:

    Isaiah 59:19 " So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him "

    Interestingly, this the bulk of this literature ( Which were texts of astronomical observations as well as methods of calculations ) belonged to the lineage of priests who descended from Sin-Leqi-Unninni
    ( The priest who left us the most complete copy of the " Gilgamesh flood epic ", and the only copy in which the story is told from the first person narrative, where Sin-Leqi-Unninni IS Gilgamesh )

    I have mapped the evolution of the Hebrew word for " flood " back through the languages, ( In the second attached pic below )

    This brings me to the fact that we often have " sin " being described as the " falling short " ( of a mark ), yet " Sīn " was the principal deity in that time ( For example Sīn was the head of the pantheon in Ur, Babylon, under Chaldean rule when the Biblical Abraham was said to have originated )

    It's not pronounced like the word we use to describe the concept of Biblical " sin ", yet it appears the same in text in English ( Sometimes even missing the diacritic mark that tells the reader how to pronounce it, which is actually phonetically - " su-en " )

    Sīn was the moon, it's name was often written as the number 30 ( Because each month it sweeps a nominal arc of 30° )

    In literature, when there was a " flood " ( An eclipse / new moon ) this was also referred to as the " fruit " ( Of Sīn )

    So, in short, simply by a rather shallow examination of literature and tradition of the day, one can easily see sources for the accounts in the book of Genesis

    ~ Flood, fruit, garden, sin / Sīn ( The list grows quite remarkably )

    This brings me full circle to Biblical literalism and exegesis of literature, and exactly what is " true " and " accurate " where the Bible is concerned

    Literature in the antiquities was not written with the same conventions of modern writing, and priestly literature of the day prior to the Bible is pretty much devoid of literalisms, so attempting to translate or decipher the meaning of a text of the time using the same approach we see commonly applied to the Bible, is actually simplifying and subsequently covering up some things that actually have a rather peculiar and complex origin

    Basically, Biblical literalism obscures the amazing foundations of the Bible

    I find this especially disturbing in that people who claim and stick to literalism do not understand that this specious exegesis and false dichotomy actually works against them

    Something can still be passable as " true " and " accurate ", and the fact that there may be other explanations and interpretations for the things in Genesis doesn't actually mean the Bible couldn't still be considered as " God's word "

    It just means that one has to actually take the Bible and it's stories in proper context, by examining literature and tradition of the day, iow, what exactly was a " god " and a " man-god " and a " priest " and what was their literature ( the word of their god/s ) like ?

    When literalists present false dichotomies and say things like " Oh, so you don't think the Bible is God's word ? ", because you mention there may be other explanations, and tell you that you are " taking things out of context ", you should remind them that in order for one to first " take things in context ", they would first have to actually familiarize themselves with literary traditions of the day in order for their exegesis to be " in context "

    Thoughts ?
     

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  2. KenS

    KenS Veteran Member
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    You have strong opinions? And that if someone disagrees, it is because they are wrong?
     
    #2 KenS, Aug 5, 2020
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  3. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    Evidence?
     
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  4. Piculet

    Piculet Active Member

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    If it helps, where Adam and eve were according to Islam was also a garden.......

    The Arabic word used when the Quran was revealed was garden. I suppose there are other translations, but...coincidence?
     
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  5. sun rise

    sun rise "This is the Hour of God"
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    That's a classic feature of poetry and a serious problem in translation. My favorite example is the word "light" which refers to weight and illumination. The expression "light of heaven" evokes in an English speaker the feeling of a weight be lifted and darkness being ended at the same time. But in a language where the word "light" can only have one meaning, part of the meaning is lost.

    I'm seeing some of the Biblical stories being confirmed by archeology sometimes in part. So the first question is to what extent is a Biblical story confirmed by archeology or other sources and where is it not. "Sea of Reeds" vs "Red sea" for example. Joshua and Jericho is another that might have an element of truth without being literally and exactly accurate.

    There's some amazing things in the Bible if you drop literalism for symbolism for me at least. An example: In the beginning, God created the laws of science which led to the universe we know today. At some point during evolution, the first humans were born with the mental capabilities to understand right and wrong. They left the animal state of ignorance and "ate from the tree" of rational thought.

    In other words, I see that imagery as encoding scientific principles into an easy to understand and evocative story for people before the age of science when mythology and symbolism was the only way of conveying certain ideas.

    On a very few occasions I've gotten into deep debates on what the Quran says. I wound up learning how words in Quranic Arabic can be translated into modern Arabic and English, the context where the words were given, what Muhammad did and said putting those words in context etc.

    I've learned to distrust scriptural superficiality so what you've written is music to my ears.
     
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  6. sun rise

    sun rise "This is the Hour of God"
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    To me it's no coincidence because it encodes the truth in a story familiar to the peoples of the region being common to Jews, Christians and then Muslims.
     
  7. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    Claims such as this are literally insipid.
     
  8. Piculet

    Piculet Active Member

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    Despite your lack of faith, it would mean that it was believed so regarding the Bible 1400 years ago.
     
  9. Piculet

    Piculet Active Member

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    You learned but you didn't put to practice..
     
  10. Onoma

    Onoma Active Member

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  11. Onoma

    Onoma Active Member

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    No, I'd say more like ultracrepidarian
     
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  12. Onoma

    Onoma Active Member

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    Well, great post, I appreciate the response

    Truly, when you start to delve into ancient priestly literature, there are very tricky things that require a good bit of study to understand, so it pains me to see people take such a dilettante approach to such interesting literature without being aware of all the little subtle complexities they are missing
     
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  13. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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  14. Left Coast

    Left Coast Happy New Year!
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    Creative interpretation overall; however here I think we've got an obvious flaw. The Hebrew Bible was written in...Hebrew, not English. So the fact that there was some Babylonian deity named "Sin" is irrelevant to the Hebrew word(s) that got translated centuries later into English as "sin."
     
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  15. Harel13

    Harel13 Nin-Jew Master
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    That is a remarkable statement, considering your own views on the creation of the Biblical text.
     
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  16. Harel13

    Harel13 Nin-Jew Master
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    Having looked at the Hebrew verse, I must say, that that is an odd translation. The Hebrew word is Nahar which means river; the enemy is compared to a rushing river (as opposed to the Hebrew word for flood which is Mabul).

    Why translate it as flood?
     
  17. exchemist

    exchemist Veteran Member

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    Like other respondents, I’d like to see evidence supporting some of your assertions. However it is beyond dispute that many of these biblical accounts have for centuries been read allegorically, rather than literally, by mainstream Christianity - and, I suspect, by Judaism, though others here are far better qualified than me on that score.
     
  18. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    Perhaps if you had a better understanding of scholarship that would not be the case.

    Siding with critical scholarship when it comes to the origins of Biblical text is a far cry from the kind of nonsense offered above. Yes, garden was a measure of area. It is also true that foot is a measure of length, but that is no warrant for the claim that football is a game of inches.
     
  19. exchemist

    exchemist Veteran Member

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    Aha, so he is speaking ex ano, as I suspected.:D
     
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  20. Harel13

    Harel13 Nin-Jew Master
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    You're the person who views Moses and the other Levites as a fairly small group (certainly not the size they're described in the Bible), or rather, a cult, of people whose theology was deeply rooted in Egyptian theology, that left Egypt and came to Canaan, seemingly joining up with the Israelite tribes living here, somehow rising to prominence (with what? Egypt ritualistic knowledge?), subsequently beginning to write a certain text that was then redacted and edited and re-edited many many times over the next 1000 years or so. This text includes Israelite variants of every pop-cultural myth of the Middle-East area at the time, everything from Canaanite deity appropriation to Southern Kingdom political propaganda. You consider those mysterious authors to have been intelligent, yet you concede that their resulting text is really an error-stuffed mish-mash, with each author attempting to make his own views the most prominent and well-known. How the resulting text shows their intelligent is quite beyond me. Then again, as you say, I don't understand scholarship.

    But that the Garden of Eden story may reflect Akkadian or Sumerian astronomical wisdom, no, that can't possibly be. Well.
     
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