…over at the Register. I’m kind of drowning in work today and so will be scarce. Glub!
This calls to mind some quandaries I’ve long had regarding the Old Testament. I will phrase the questions in a challenging format not because I seek to disprove the Faith I adhere to as well as my weak self can, but because pulling punches would be counterproductive.
First, the idea of the chosen people. In the Old Testament, this seems to often imply that the Israelites’ lives are precious and they are loved by God, while others are not. The Philistines (for example) were not only not given the Law and not sent the Prophets, but were slaughtered with God’s help. Were they therefore loved less? And how about, say, the ancient Chinese? Was God simply unmindful of them altogether?
Second, the Levitical laws seem not only full of absurd-seeming detail (prohibiting the use of two types of cloth is a popular example) and brutal punishments, but it is not clear to me that all of them were regularly followed even before Christ. What’s the best way to understand these…and can that understanding be crafted into a brisk reply to the increasingly well-practiced “well, yes, the Bible is against homosexuality…but it also says I should go stone my sister right now for at least five different reasons” rant, as exemplified by this well-known Bartlet speech from The West Wing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSXJzybEeJM .
If anyone’s pointed me towards answers on such topics before, I’m afraid I’ve forgotten where they might be. Any recommended reading or other help would be welcome.
Actually, the Philistinians seem to have regularly kicked Israeli butt. That’s why they occupied the fertile bottomlands while the Israelis were confined to the hill country.
Some of the nonsensical laws make sense on further thought. For example, pigs can’t sweat. This means that as the Near East was deforested any pigs wanting to keep cool had to wallow in an oasis, which was contraindicated, drinking-water-wise. That’s why Egyptians and Babylonians also abominated the pig. Then, too, some rules may have just been for the same purpose as wearing a hair-shirt or abstaining from meat on Friday.