1. Welcome to Religious Forums, a friendly forum to discuss all religions in a friendly surrounding.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Our modern chat room. No add-ons or extensions required, just login and start chatting!
    • Access to private conversations with other members.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Violence in the old testament - the best explanation

Discussion in 'General Religious Debates' started by Meandflower, Apr 10, 2021.

  1. Meandflower

    Meandflower Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2020
    Messages:
    941
    Ratings:
    +707
    Religion:
    Monotheist
    This is the best explanation to the question about violence in the old testament. This explanation helped me to understand that God in the Bible is really loving. God wants the best for us. This explanation can help you grow stronger in your faith in God.

    The explanation from a catholic priest:
    First part


    We know that God is all good and all loving. In fact, “God is love” (1 John 4:8). And yet, in the Old Testament, we find various scenes in which God’s people are called to “destroy” other nations.

    Troublesome passages remind us why it is so important to understand how to interpret Scripture “in accordance with the Spirit who inspired it” (see Catechism of the Catholic Church 111-114). Based on this text alone, without proper context, it’s easy to see why someone might think that God commands evil. If we are to understand what is happening here, then we need to keep in mind the following criteria for biblical interpretation:

    - Pay attention to the “content and unity of the whole of Scripture” (CCC 112). In other words, the rest of Scripture should help to make sense of this passage. So we can turn to similar passages of the Bible to help shed light on this question

    - Read the Bible in light of the “living Tradition” of the Church (CCC 113). We have to take into account what God has revealed to us not only in the written words of Scripture, but also in Sacred Tradition. The Church’s teaching on the command, “Thou shalt not kill,” is that “no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being” (CCC 2258).

    - We need to remember that there is a “coherence of truths of the faith” (CCC 113). This means that our faith is not self-contradicting. We cannot say it was morally acceptable for the Israelites to kill innocent people then, but that it is no longer acceptable in our day.

    So if God is good, and it’s never morally acceptable to intentionally destroy an innocent person, how are we to understand this? Consider what St. Augustine said about difficult passages of Scripture:

    “… if in the Scriptures I meet anything which seems contrary to truth, I shall not hesitate to conclude either that the text is faulty, or that the translator has not expressed the meaning of the passage, or that I myself do not understand” (St. Augustine, Ep. 82, i. et crebrius alibi).

    We know it’s never morally acceptable to intentionally kill innocent persons. We also know that God is all good. So what was God asking Israel to do in this passage? Was he calling them to act in an evil way by killing innocent persons? Two other stories in Scripture should help to answer this question.
     
    #1 Meandflower, Apr 10, 2021
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2021
    • Winner Winner x 1
  2. Meandflower

    Meandflower Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2020
    Messages:
    941
    Ratings:
    +707
    Religion:
    Monotheist
    Last part of it

    Abraham, God, and Sodom (Genesis 18-19)


    In this story, Abraham is like a defense attorney pleading for clemency on behalf of Sodom (a city with some serious problems)

    Abraham asks God,Will you really sweep away the righteous with the wicked? … Far be it from you to do such a thing, to kill the righteous with the wicked … Should not the judge of all the world do what is just?” (Genesis 18:23-25)

    Abraham affirms that God is just, and it’s unjust to kill righteous persons. So Abraham asks God if he would spare Sodom if there were fifty, forty, thirty, or ten righteous people in Sodom. In each instance God says that he “will spare the whole place for their sake.” From this we learn that God is indeed just, and he will not kill the innocent.

    As the Catechism says, “God is infinitely good and all his works are good” (CCC 385). “God is in no way, directly or indirectly, the cause of moral evil” (CCC 311).

    The interesting thing is that God does end up destroying Sodom in Genesis 19. Does that mean there wasn’t a single righteous person among them? Were there no innocent children? Or is there something more to this scene? Let’s look at our next story and see how it can help explain what might be happening.

    The Battle of Jericho (Joshua 6)

    Jericho was a city within the Promised Land spoken of in Deuteronomy 7; part of a nation that was to be “utterly destroyed.” In the book of Joshua we see Israel besiege and attack Jericho “putting to the sword all living creatures in the city: men and women, young and old, as well as oxen, sheep and donkeys” (Joshua 6:21).

    What is happening here? A literalistic interpretation of this passage brings us back to where we started: It would seem God was commanding the death of the innocent, including the young. But is this the only possible way to interpret this text? When we read Scripture, it’s important to distinguish between a literal and a literalistic interpretation of a text. The literalist interprets every word of Scripture as literal, historical truth; and does not distinguish among the various types of writing found in Scripture—including poetry and metaphor.

    A literal understanding of Scripture recognizes that “truth is differently presented and expressed in the various types of historical writing” (CCC 110). Is the author of Joshua really intending to say that every single living creature in Jericho was utterly destroyed, including innocent children? The problem with this view is that the story itself has an exception to Jericho’s utter destruction. Rahab and her family are spared (see Joshua 6:25).

    Is it possible that in these examples the sense of utter destruction was not meant to be understood literally, but was used as an expression?
    Could this refer to a great—but not total—devastation? We use similar expressions frequently. For example, if I described a comedy I really enjoyed and said “I was dying of laughter,” you wouldn’t begin thinking that I was literally dying. You know that’s just an expression for how funny something was. So too, the idea that “every living creature” in Jericho was killed is quite possibly just an expression.

    What’s Deuteronomy Calling Israel to Do?

    We know from Abraham’s conversation with God that God does not punish the innocent. So it’s not likely Deuteronomy intended to say that God was commanding the death of everyone. In fact, Deuteronomy goes on to say, “You shall not make marriages with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons” (Deuteronomy 7:3). Why would Deuteronomy need to forbid intermarriage with these nations if they were to be utterly destroyed? There would be no one left to marry among them. It’s more likely that the phrase “utterly destroy” was used as an expression.

    Perhaps it was intended to describe a complete victory for Israel; a victory that meant separating themselves from anything that might get in the way of their relationship with God. Actually, that’s the reason Deuteronomy gives for this command,
    “For [the nations] would turn your sons from following me to serving other gods, and then the anger of the LORD would flare up against you and he would quickly destroy you” (Deuteronomy 7:4).
    This interpretation would mean that God did not command evil. Rather he commanded Israel to avoid evil by removing those temptations that might lead them astray.

    Christ uses a similar expression in the New Testament to describe avoiding sin:


    “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away … And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into Gehenna” (Matthew 5:29-30).

    Christ is not speaking literally. He’s using an expression to illustrate the severity of what he is saying. So the lesson here is, don’t literally cut off your hand, pluck out your eye, or lay waste to a nation. Instead, remove those things in your life that draw you away from the Lord. It’s better to separate yourself from those things than to find yourself separated from God.

    Source: Does God Command Evil Acts in the Bible? - Ascension Press Media
     
    #2 Meandflower, Apr 10, 2021
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2021
    • Like Like x 2
  3. Meandflower

    Meandflower Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2020
    Messages:
    941
    Ratings:
    +707
    Religion:
    Monotheist
    Any thoughts on this? Do you think this explanation helped you?
     
  4. Windwalker

    Windwalker Veteran Member
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2013
    Messages:
    11,085
    Ratings:
    +7,076
    Religion:
    Love, Light, and Life
    No, not at all. Using language such as kill every last one of them, is not just a poetic expression. It certainly doesn't sound like something you say along the lines of laughing oneself to death. "I could have just ripped their babies to shreds upon sharp rocks, and fed their grandparents to the ravens" is supposed to be taken as a good natured figure of speech?

    There's a problem with his way he is approaching the texts, assuming they have to have no contradictions. That's a theological overlay, that will disallow other possibilities from being recognized which would challenge that presupposition. Take away the filter of inerrancy, and there are other, easier explanations for the contrasting images of God in the Bible.
     
    • Winner Winner x 2
  5. Harel13

    Harel13 Nin-Jew Master
    Staff Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2019
    Messages:
    6,116
    Ratings:
    +6,247
    Religion:
    Orthodox Judaism
    This is a long-used incorrect translation. The Hebrew is לא תרצח, Thou shalt not murder.
     
    • Winner Winner x 2
    • Useful Useful x 1
  6. Heyo

    Heyo Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2019
    Messages:
    6,666
    Ratings:
    +5,783
    Religion:
    none
    [​IMG]
    If this is the best explanation, it pretty much assures me that I will never lose a debate on this topic.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  7. Altfish

    Altfish Veteran Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2014
    Messages:
    12,282
    Ratings:
    +10,009
    Religion:
    Humanist
    Perhaps we need another section called "APOLOGETICS"??
     
    • Like Like x 1
  8. thomas t

    thomas t non-denominational Christian

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2020
    Messages:
    1,847
    Ratings:
    +537
    Religion:
    Christian
    Bible Only please. Catholic tradition includes murder sometimes, see inquisition. If the bloodshed was so common in that church, I leave the word "sacred" for other things.
    I don't hate the RCC though. But I don't think they or their traditions are sacred. If it were so sacred, why didn't they find a sacred way of stopping their own violence within centuries?
    I think Bible is inerrant, even if that Augustine disagrees.
    I understand the Bible to be literally true except for prophecy. Prophecy should be taken metaphorically.
     
  9. Twilight Hue

    Twilight Hue The gentle embrace of twilight has become my guide

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2009
    Messages:
    34,154
    Ratings:
    +14,317
    Religion:
    Philosophical Buddhism
    Also called putting lipstick on a pig.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Funny Funny x 1
  10. night912

    night912 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2019
    Messages:
    1,512
    Ratings:
    +596
    Religion:
    Not religious
    I have two possible explanations that I can think of at the moment.

    Either,

    1. God exist and did indeed inspired the written bible. And because of his inspiration, it reflected his nature as well, violent and hateful.

    Or

    2. It was inspired and written by humans, therefore, it contains some aspects of human nature.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  11. stvdv

    stvdv Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2018
    Messages:
    12,170
    Ratings:
    +6,858
    Religion:
    Sanathana Dharma [The Eternal Religion]
    Best Christian line I ever read. Thanks for sharing

    My favorite Hindu Scripture, the Yoga Vasistha, says it similar

    IF a verse feels not good, discard it, even if its offered to you by God Himself

    OR in short: Common Sense before Divine Sense
    @stvdvRF
     
    #11 stvdv, Apr 11, 2021
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2021
    • Like Like x 1
    • Winner Winner x 1
  12. Meandflower

    Meandflower Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2020
    Messages:
    941
    Ratings:
    +707
    Religion:
    Monotheist
    You are wrong. It is just an expression:

    in Deuteronomy 7 the canaanites was to be “utterly destroyed.” In the book of Joshua we see Israel besiege and attack Jericho “putting to the sword all living creatures in the city: men and women, young and old, as well as oxen, sheep and donkeys” (Joshua 6:21).

    What is written in above is just an expression. The israelites never killed all the canaanites.

    Here is the evidence:

    - the story itself has an exception to Jericho’s utter destruction. Rahab and her family are spared (see Joshua 6:25).
    - And in Judges, the book that comes right after Joshua, clearly states that there were Canaanites living in the hill country, the Negev and the western foothills” (Jud 1:9) and “Canaanites living in Hebron” (v. 10).
    -
    Canaanites were around in Israel around the time of Solomon (1 Kings 9:16)
    -
    and even in the time of Jesus (Matt 15:22).

    So this advice is very good:

    Pay attention to the “content and unity of the whole of Scripture” In other words, the rest of Scripture should help to make sense of this passage. So we can turn to similar passages of the Bible to help shed light on this question
     
    #12 Meandflower, Apr 11, 2021
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2021
  13. Windwalker

    Windwalker Veteran Member
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2013
    Messages:
    11,085
    Ratings:
    +7,076
    Religion:
    Love, Light, and Life
    I am wrong, in bold typeface even, making it even more wrong? I'm sorry, words like those are not "just an expression".

    "I'm sorry your honor, I didn't really mean I wanted to literally dismember his whole family and bury them outside the gates of the city. It was a figure of speech to say how much I disagree with their religious views and their lifestyles. Don't you understand that violent speech, is never really meant to be taken seriously? Besides, I only hacked up his father and a few of his brothers and their children, but I left his mother completely alive still and the rest ran off before I could get to them. That alone your honor, is proof those words were just an expression of speech. I rest my case."​

    I doubt the judge would buy that argument, considering he actually did murder several of his family members, as promised.

    But they did kill most of them according to the threat of violence and death. No?

    They spared a few, but what did they do with the rest of the bodies? Surely, they murdered a great many of them, so much so because that was then taken to spread the terror of the reputation of Joshua's army throughout the land, as a warning and threat to everyone in their path? Verse 27, "and his fame spread throughout the land".

    Different book. Different authors. Different period of time it was written in. Besides, the story of Joshua is clearly a genocidal commision. And as in any sort of ethnic cleansing historically, it never quite succeeded in its aim. It doesn't mean the machetes hacking up the rival tribes, or the gas chambers for the Jews in Auschwitz were just expressions of speech, because not all the Jews perished.

    And the Jews are still around today following Hitler's genocide against them. That's not proof the holocaust never happened.

    As I said, these type of ways to soften the language of scripture, really doesn't hold up to careful scrutiny in context of both history and language.

    There is a better way to understand these stories, without needing to overlook such glaring contradictions in order to make them more comfortable to the reader.
     
    #13 Windwalker, Apr 11, 2021
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2021
  14. thomas t

    thomas t non-denominational Christian

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2020
    Messages:
    1,847
    Ratings:
    +537
    Religion:
    Christian
    In my opinion, the Bible God cannot be compared to a pig.

    God has nothing to hide, there's no need for lipstick, even if you keep your Bible reading literal.

    I for one put devine sense in front of (human common) sense.
     
  15. night912

    night912 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2019
    Messages:
    1,512
    Ratings:
    +596
    Religion:
    Not religious

    That's not evidence for your claim. Sorry, but you just wasted your time typing this up because it's all irrelevant and contained factual errors, therefore, failed to defend your argument that, "it's just an expression."


    I agree, that's good advice. So why didn't you take that advice?

    - You did not pay attention to the context, resulting in you falling to recognize the distinction between God's command and the actions of the Israelites.

    - You made an error by assuming that, in the land of Canaan, the Canaanites couldn't/didn't lived anywhere else except in Jericho.

    - And in Judges, the book that comes right after Joshua, clearly states that there were Canaanites living in the hill country, the Negev and the western foothills. So, if it immediately follows Joshua, then the logical conclusion is, the Israelites couldn't utterly destroyed the Canaanites at Jericho and are attempting to accomplish that command.


    You gave a good advice about context being important, I just don't know why you would ignore your own good advice.
     
  16. Skywalker

    Skywalker Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2015
    Messages:
    6,656
    Ratings:
    +338
    Religion:
    Christian
    Augustine had false teachings.
    Mike Jagger Sings... “You'll never make a saint of me”

     
  17. MonkeyFire

    MonkeyFire Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2014
    Messages:
    2,445
    Ratings:
    +478
    Religion:
    Faithful Jesus believer
    Mankind was tempted by knowledge of good and evil. Violence is the fall of man, and passive Jesus was sacrificed, then it ends in Armageddon.
     
Loading...