Thursday, August 27, 2009

Getting a bum rap

I had avoided this topic, though I have wanted to cover it a few times now, as not to offend any potential readers. Today sucked for me so I really don't care anymore. And if you find offense in what is to follow I think maybe you need to open your mind some more and stop looking at the world through such narrow focus, and above all else start thinking for yourself and stop just believing the propaganda they have been filling your head with your entire live.

The serpent in the garden of Eden:

Get yourself a bible and read very closely Genesis 3. I'll wait don't worry.

OK now read it again and look at these verses: Genesis 3:1-6, & 13

How exactly did the serpent beguile the woman, whom has not been named yet I'd like to point out for no particular reason? The serpent asked the woman a question, received her answer and then made a true statement. And yet tradition has us believing that the serpent is the devil and deceived and tricked Eve into eating the apple, though the bible never actually says apple.

You know who I noticed lies in this story? God. Don't believe me that God lies? Take a look back at Genesis 2:17 "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. " Yet both Adam and Eve eat from that tree and survive.

Seems to me that God is the liar and deceiver of this story not the serpent and yet the serpent gets cursed by God. Genesis 3:14-15 "And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. "

It seems to me that God is punishing the serpent for doing no real wrong. After all the text doesn't say anything about the serpent eating from that tree or even telling Eve to eat from it. All the serpent did was point out God's lie.

Now the question is why did God lie about it in the first place. The text gives an interesting clue in Genesis 3:22 "And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever."

So who is God talking to? This is another of those interesting points in the bible where God says "us" seemingly talking about other beings of equal standing as God. I also find it interesting to note that God never forbade Adam from eating from the tree of life and only worried about it after he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It is at this part of the story that humans get kicked out of the garden and angels get posted to guard the garden with a flaming sword. God most really be worried about immortal humans with the knowledge of good and evil and how that would make us just like him.

Anyway please feel free to comment and tell me how I have it all wrong or whatever. But as far as I can tell from reading the text available God is a liar and the serpent got a bum rap.

10 comments:

  1. Well, you have it all wrong :P. No, actually, I would say that you have some right and some wrong as I see it. For one, I think you are right to question things that have been established for such a long time. I also think you are right to look at Genesis, which would establish the concept of sin. And you look at some good portions of the text. But keep in mind, as I write this, I do not have access to the Bible and must go purely on my memory and thoughts.

    But I would like to illustrate my point of view I suppose, which does happen to be on the opposite side of the spectrum, so I say what I say in repectful disagreement. To put it out on the table, I tend to agree with a Christian perspective. Just because I hold such a viewpoint does not mean I do not think for myself. I have thought through my views and arrived at them as what they are.

    As far as the God lying is concerned, I would have to disagree. God would be lying if the death was a physical death. I do not think was refering to a physical death at all but a spiritual one. Genesis refers to the creation as a perfect creation but submitted themselves to sin by choice. The Bible refers to sin as "death." So God was not really lying. The serpent was refering to physical death, thus tempting the humans. He was not outright lying either but being deceiving with the use of language. As far as the apple is concerned, I cannot remember what the translation from aramaic is exactly; it might just be fruit. I do not think that really matters though in the long run.

    As far as the "us" that God is talking to, I believe that this is the triune nature of God, the 3 in 1. So I do not see a problem with that.

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  2. Very well put and you do raise an interesting point with the physical versus spiritual death thing that I hadn't looked at. I had been taking the text at face value really just to see what I came up with. I will have to give your idea some more thought before I can comment farther.

    As I have commented before I don't think the writer(s) of the old testament had the concept of the trinity in mind when they used the word "us." Personally I've always just read it as God was talking to the angels, but it is still interesting none the less to think that all that apparently seperates us from them is living forever.

    I thank you for your comments and will put more thought into the matter. I didn't mean this post as any form of personal attack on anyones believes but more as an exercise to show people to read things and understand things for themselves instead of just taking what they have been taught as the truth. It probably came out harsher than I would have otherwise liked because yesterday was not a good day for me and I was a little angry about other matters.

    As for not having a bible handy to read, you were at a computer with internet access, so thats not a valid excuse. I was using a website to read it myself since the only bible I had near my computer is not in good shape on those first few pages.

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  3. Good point on the last paragraph. I could have readily looked up Bible verses, although I feel I know quite a bit on this portion of the Bible,unlike much of it. I didn't think you were attacking any viewpoint necessarily. I just like to point out you can still be independent minded and hold conservative viewpoints. I felt that was necessary to point out just for the sake of the content of your post.

    Also, the way I take the Bible is a bit different, so I feel it might be able to affect your thought on the subject. There is a portion in one of the letters of Timothy, I believe the 3rd Chapter (I don't have much time to write this right now, so memory again sorry). But it states that the Bible is inspired by God. Taking the meaning in Greek of inspired literally mean God-breathed or from the mouth of God. So the way I take this is that the Bible would have been written through the hands of man with God to some extent influencing the writing or being personally involved. So I take the entirety of the Bible as having this influence, and thus, should reflect the true nature of God throughout.

    And by the way, look for my response on my blog soon. I have had a surge of activities in the schedule since classes started which prevents daily interactions. Thanks for your involvement as well.

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  4. To me the bible is simply a story written by the hands off men, and translated over and over again by the hands of men. And I'm pretty sure the first few books of the old testament were passed down as an oral tradition before they ever got wrote down.

    I've also read enough stuff showing connections between the Genesis and Exodus stories to ancient Egyptian or Babylonian mythologies to take the idea that they are just adaptations of the stories of those people. But I might make a posting about that in future so I won't go farther for now.

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  5. You are right! The Bible has been translated over and over again, just not from one version to another. Take the Old Testament for example. We actually have very early versions of the texts. We have the Scrolls of Qumran that actually form virtually the full Old Testament minus several verses. We also have the Masaretic Text, which is also extremely old. We have various versions in between. And analysis of the Old Testment from the earliest versions we have to the newest versions of it show that it has maintained 95 some percent of its original version. The only mistakes have been minor clerical errors with no change of meaning. The point being that we can actually compare directly and translate directly from the original aramaich and hebrew of the Old Testment.

    The New Testment is the most well kept documents in teh world actually. It has more copies of it than any other texts. Again, the same kind of consistency as the Old Testament. The only other document that comes close to have better preservation is Homer's Illiad, and historians believe that to be based on true events as well.

    The first few books of the Old Testament were first passed down as oral tradition. They were then put together in writing and formed into their current form and accepted as authoritative. If God did guide this process, there is no problem with this at all. The would be then, was it guided by God or just by the hands of men? And we both have our vote on that one.

    I'll wait for your post on the second paragraph :P.

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  6. I'll just refer you to the book titled "Misquoting Jesus" by Bart D Ehrman. It's a really good book by a biblical scholar about his search for the words that Jesus actually spoke.

    Its been a few years since I read it myself but from what I remember a lot of biblical scholars accept as fact that one or more of the letters of Paul are actually forgeries by people that wanted there message better accepted and just used Paul's name.

    Some of the random clerical errors are discussed, including one where some scribe had added some note in the margin that in later copies got added to the actual text if I remember correctly.

    And there was an issue with some copies had more or less verses to the end of one of the gospels. Was that by design or accident? Was the message of those verses added or removed, which ever it was, later for some reason?

    It is historical fact that there were, probably literally, thousands of scribes hand copying the bible over the centuries and sometimes errors were made. Many of them were simply spelling errors I'm sure but to me its still enough to raise doubt about the supposed accuracy.

    AndletsnotforgetthatHebrewwasorginallywrittenlikethisonlywithoutevenhavingvowelsThuswegetthenameofGodasYHWH

    Not to mention such classic examples of reading and trying to understand a mess like that as, "Godisnowhere". Does that say "God is now here," or "God is no where?"

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  7. Sorry for the delayed response. I would like to respond yet again :P. It has been a great discussion thus far.

    Your point that the Bible has been translated numerous times by thousands of scholars is certainly true. As I alluded to in my last point, scholars have had direct access to manuscipts and studies have shown that the Bible has not changed in meaning at all through all of these years. Yes, clerical errors has been made but not enough to change the texts to any near significant degree. It also must be understood that the sheer standards that these scholars went through was absolutely to a make a perfectionist look sloppy. For example, monks, which have done the work for a good majority of the Bible's existence, would spend careful painstaking hours copying the Bible over. After that was done, it was proofread several times over to make sure it did not have any mistakes. If one was found, the whole copy was discarded and the process began anew. The Bible has been found to have remained without any change to about the degree of at least 95% accuracy without change in meaning. That speaks to its accuracy; its veracity is another issue entirely. My point is that the text has not changed over time.

    I will comment on a couple of the other issues in the next post.

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  8. There certainly is a debate among biblical scholars about whether Paul actually wrote all of the epistles credited to him. This debate has been spurred by the different writing styles conveyed in a couple of the epistles. During that time, it was common for those, especially leaders of sorts, to have personal scribes to write things down for them, including letters and other manuscripts. That is an easy explanation to account for acute changes in language. Paul could have written some and had his scribe or scribes to write others. There is no evidence to say either way, whether it was all his ideas or otherwise, beyond the circumstancial, and to claim as fact one point of view or the other is presumptuous.

    Yes, the Bible was written in the manner you present. But you must keep in mind that those that translated the Bible were trained to be masters of the contents and language. For example, YWVH has its origins from the Hebrew verb hayah, which translate simply to "I will be." So, when coming to issues of the Godisnowhere or the like, that becomes a simple translation knowing that one tranlation is more accurate than the other. It is more consistent with the rest of the contents to say "God is now here," rather than "God is nowhere."

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  9. Fine, the bible is 95% accurate. I don't care. That still leaves 5% inaccurate. If my quick Google search can be trusted, which I don't really but it still gives me numbers to play with, there are 180,552 words in the New Testament. 5% error puts that at just a little over 9000 words that are wrong. There is every chance that at least one of those 9000 words is going to change the meaning of the sentence it is in.

    Not to mention any one who has every studied another langauge should know that not every word in a language can translate directly into another language without losing some of the subtle nuances that the word might have in the orignal language.

    And as just one final note I took the time to figure out about those extra verses at the end of a gospel I mentioned earlier. Mark 16:9-20 do not appear to be the orginal ending to that gospel. If you are curious as to why that is so do the research yourself as I don't personally care at this point to copy and paste what is readily available with a Google search.

    As for your perfect monks thats all well and good once there were monks to do that sort of work, but what about the first century or so of Christianity when there was not so much as an organized church and most of the followers were simple peasents that couldn't read or write? How well did the letters and gospels get copied then?

    So now we have your belief that its a divinely inspired and influenced "near perfect" document that has survived for centuries more or less unchanged, and my belief that it is a simple human document, wrote by simple humans and translated by simple humans and the possibility that its full of copy errors after centuries of human hands copying and translating is to great for me to assign it any more significance to it. Looks like we are at an impasse.

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  10. Well, as you can tell, I am one persistent SOB really. I am always one for discussion, even with those I disagree with. I think it makes us better off to consider other points of view. No offense intended, but I like intense debate. And I did not necessarily believe I would sway your opinion, so we will not persuade each other. But we are more informed because of it. Mission accomplished in my book. I will repond once more and let you decide if we continue. Keep in mind I only argue as a proponent for the Bible's historical integrity rather than its veracity, though I do believe that as well.

    Yes, the Gospels started as an oral tradition before they got written down by the four authors and the epistles had to be grouped into one to form the New Testament and similar things with the Old Testament before they were all compiled and approved as scripture. I will refer to my former points. Its accuracy over the millenia and the care taken throughout its history. The monks were only an example. It would have been taken with just as much care at its inception because of how immediate this holy scripture to the original Christians would have been. But the point also points to the fact that scholars working on biblical translation have had reference to the original works throughout its time, so it is not merely something that a mass extinction and a Cambrian explosion. It has been consistent throughout its existence.

    You point to a good example at the end of Mark. The earliest manuscripts do not have it and some other ancient witnesses do not have it. This is according to my study Bible. It is simply not known whether this was a part of the original documents or not. I suppose it could be used for some of the Templar holy grail conspiricies :P.

    You are also completely right about that languages cannot always convey the full meaning of the original Hebrew, Aramaich, and Greek. This is why it is recommended by pastors to read different styles of translation to try to absorb the full meaning of the text. I do not think this takes away from the historical context though.

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