Five Christian Principles Used to Give the Bible a Pass

Five Christian Principles Used to Give the Bible a Pass February 15, 2016

Let the Bible clarify the BibleIn Christians’ Damning Refuge in “Difficult Verses,” we looked at a Christian response to the well-known Dawkins Quote (“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction …”). This response tried to distinguish between “clear” and “hard” passages in the Bible. But is the problem that some verses are unclear or that they’re actually unpleasant, with clear/hard simply misdirection to justify ignoring verses where God’s barbaric behavior is on display?

Christians will tell me to look without bias at what the Bible says and I’ll do my honest best, but I have no patience for when they don’t follow their own rules. Or when their own rules demand that they be biased.

Consider these Christian recommendations for how to interpret the Bible. We’ll start with an elaboration of the one we’ve just seen, “take the clearer passages to interpret the harder passages.”

Two of my sources are “How to Interpret the Bible” and “Ten principles when considering alleged Bible contradictions.” From this point forward, I’ll abbreviate these as HIB and 10P. (I’ve responded to 10P in depth here.)

Principle #1: Let the Bible clarify the Bible

Or, as HIB puts it, “The Clear Must Interpret the Unclear”:

Murky passages can often be clarified by other scriptures which address the particular topic in a more straightforward way. For example, a very specific interpretation of the highly symbolic visions of John’s apocalypse [that is, the book of Revelation], may never “trump” the clear teachings of Paul’s epistles, which are more didactic and less symbolic, and hence clearer.

Here’s another way to see that clear/unclear simply mean pleasing/displeasing. When someone says that verse A is clear and B unclear (so we should focus on verse A, ignore verse B, and pretend we didn’t notice any contradiction), ask why that’s the order. Why isn’t B the clear one? For example, Paul says, “[All I’ve been saying is] that the Messiah would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to his own people and to the Gentiles” (Acts 26:23). But this is contradicted by (1) the zombies that came out of their graves on the death of Jesus (Matthew 27:52), who were actually the first to rise from the dead, and (2) the gospels themselves, which say that Jesus had a long ministry before his resurrection, not after as Paul says it. Why do the gospels trump Paul?

Or take the duration of Jesus’s time on earth after the resurrection. Why is it popularly seen as forty days (Acts 1:3)? Why not one day (Luke 24:51)?

Here’s another example. Harold Camping famously made a fool of himself when he predicted the Rapture on May 21, 2011. The first lesson from the Camping fiasco is that testability is not the prophet’s friend. If you’re going to predict something, make it vague to give you plausible deniability after your inevitable failure. (John Hagee didn’t get the message when he said in 2013, “The coming four blood moons points to a world-shaking event that will happen between April 2014 and October 2015.” Whoops—wrong again.)

But the second lesson is that the Bible is a sock puppet that can say almost anything you want, despite the principle of “Let the Bible clarify the Bible.” Christian apologists, embarrassed by Camping’s date for the Last Days®, quoted Paul speaking about the end: “The day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.… Destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman” (1 Thessalonians 5:2–3). That is, the end must be a surprise, and Camping couldn’t have correctly calculated the date of the Rapture.

Camping trumped that by quoting the very next verse: “But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.” That is, the chosen won’t be surprised by the end.

The lack of biblical clarity and the inadequacy of Principle #1 is made particularly clear by Christianity’s 45,000 denominations (and counting). If the Bible were the clear message from an omniscient Creator, there would be just one.

Principle #2: “Description is different than approval”

10P says:

Sometimes critics of the Bible (or critics of Christianity in general) point to an evil or corrupt situation described in the Bible to argue God (or Christianity) approves of the situation (or is the source of the evil). Remember, just because a Biblical author writes about something, this does not mean God condones it or supports it.

This principle attempts to tap dance away from God’s approval of things we find horrifying today like slavery and genocide.

Here’s an exercise that will explore what God does and doesn’t approval of. Consider the following lists, each containing three items mentioned in the Bible. For each list, think about what connects the items in that list and how it is different from the other lists:

  1. Murder, lying, and stealing
  2. Slavery, genocide, and polygamy
  3. Weights and measures for commerce, sheep herding, and eating meat

The items in List 1 (murder, lying, and stealing) are all prohibited in Exodus 20. They’re typically numbered 6, 8, and 9 in the Ten Commandments. (As an aside, it’s interesting that they’re not on the second version in Exodus 34, the one that found its way into the Ark of the Covenant.)

The items in List 2 (slavery, genocide, and polygamy) are never prohibited. They can be restricted, however (for example, elders are to have just one wife according to 1 Timothy 3:2), and rules can apply (for example, slaves can be beaten, but not so much that they die according to Exodus 21:20).

The items in List 3 (weights and measures, herding, and meat) are also never prohibited. Rules can apply to them as well (“The Lord detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him”).

Lists 2 and 3 are distinguishable only in how we judge them—we prohibit List 2 but accept List 3—but that’s not in the Bible. This leaves us with the biblical view of prohibited things in List 1 versus acceptable things (though possibly regulated by God-given rules) in Lists 2 and 3.

Only modern sensibilities tell us that slavery, genocide, and polygamy are bad. Not only did God regulate slavery and polygamy just like he did accurate weights and measures, Jesus had nothing bad to say about them either.

This principle, “Description is different than approval,” is a transparent attempt to give God a pass when he goes off his meds. It fails.

Conclusion: three more principles in part 2.

You give me the awful impression, I hate to have to say it,

of someone who hasn’t read any of the arguments against your position ever.
Christopher Hitchens

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  • MNb

    Good analysis.

    “Description is different than approval”
    It’s not synonymous to disapproval either. And mentioning evil stuff without showing disapproval is also damning.

    “just because a Biblical author writes about something, this does not mean God condones it or supports it.”
    Those parts aren’t divinely inspired then. On what grounds should I accept then that other parts are? What makes the apologist’s underbelly feel warm and cozy?

    • InDogITrust

      “Those parts aren’t divinely inspired then. On what grounds should I accept then that other parts are?”
      This.

      • Greg G.

        God would not have inspired something that I didn’t approve of.

    • T-Paine

      “just because a Biblical author writes about something, this does not mean God condones it or supports it.”
      Those
      parts aren’t divinely inspired then. On what grounds should I accept
      then that other parts are? What makes the apologist’s underbelly feel
      warm and cozy?

      Apologist be like:

      http://i.giphy.com/Tt92sbuFRpA4g.gif

  • InDogITrust

    “Destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman”

    This line amuses me because it indicates that the end *can* be predicted and if anything, it will come *sooner* than expected.

    • Shadowbelle

      Yes. The pregnant woman has a general idea when to expect the labor pains.

  • Michael Ross

    “Murky passages can often be clarified by other scriptures…”

    Why does the perfect, infinitely intelligent, divine creator of the universe have such a difficult time expressing himself clearly?

    • Moses had a tough time at public speaking and had to have God give him the words before seeing Pharaoh? Sounds like Mo could’ve done better.

      • Greg G.

        Yes, he created Moses that way but chose him anyway, apparently because he had an interesting back storyline. So God tells Moses what to tell Aaron to say. I wonder why God never thought of just telling Aaron directly what he wanted said?

    • T-Paine

      It’s not the parts they don’t understand that they don’t have faith in – but it’s the parts they do understand that they don’t have faith in.

  • Greg G.

    It is better than the principle of abrogation employed by many Muslims. If a verse is contradicted by a later verse, the later verse is the one you go by. Never mind that the Suras are arranged by length so that a copyist can more easily judge how big to write the lettering to make it come out without too many pages left over and certainly not to run out of paper before the end of the Koran.

    The epistles in the New Testament are arranged that way except that letters to the same recipient are put together and the Paulines are separate from the General Epistles.

    • Yes, the chapters in the Koran are arranged by length, but the principle of abrogation is only concerned with dates (which means you’ve got to look up the chronological order when making your comparison since it’s not obvious).

      • Greg G.

        There was a Muslim apologist from Saudi Arabia calling in to The Atheist Experience. It sounds like those principles are taken whichever way supports what you want to believe. That guy was insisting the extremists were wrong but Matt was reading the verse that said apostates should be killed. The caller had to tap dance like any Christian apologist.

        • I wonder how much work it takes to be conversant in Muslim apologetics. To be as good as I want to be simply in Christian apologetics seems to be a lifelong project.

        • Pofarmer

          I like Richard Dawkins and Laurence Krause approach. “Who cares, it’s all the same nonsense.” There’s a debate on youtube of Laurence Krause and a Muslim Apologist where he basically says that word for word. You can never know every apologetic for christianity, or Islam, or Sayeth Sae Baba. But you can realise it’s all the same nonsense.

        • Susan

          You can never know every apologetic for christianity, or Islam, or Sayeth Sae Baba.

          Not all the hairy details. That’s how they keep you hooked. You’re not addressing “true” (insert my unsupported claim here). You’re not addressing the “sophisticated nuances” of (insert my unsupported claim here).

          But it seems they have the same arguments. Over and over. As though they hadn’t been addressed before. Most aren’t valid, when they make claims about logic. Those that are valid, mostly aren’t sound. Those that are sound are only sound because they’re tautological.

          That’s if we’re even allowed to talk about it. Most social and cultural situations make that awkward.

          It’s a very small place in the world where their ideas are exposed. Where they are allowed to be examined.

          There’s no there there when you look at it.

          I just want the world to look at it.

        • Greg G.

          I saw a debate where Hamza Tortzis (something like that) used WLC arguments. He was going on about the universe had a beginning, events had to have a beginning but God always has existed. Dan Barker asked, “What was God’s first thought?”

        • Susan

          I saw a debate where Hamza Tortzis (something like that) used WLC arguments.

          My limited exposure to muslims interacting came with many of the same arguments that christians use.

          They both go to classical theism (which makes an argument for “being” and replaces it with “a being” without ever having justified it, at least not in my travels) in order to completely drop their burden for the specific claims they make about what they mean by “God”.

          That is, why it should be called a god, how on earth they can justify that it exists, why I should believe they have any access to it, how “the ground of all-being” made it clear to them that teh gayz iz bad and … well, gosh… why anyone should believe what they’re claiming has any truth value.

          But I digress. 😉

          “What was God’s first thought?”

          Exactly.

          Also (I think) more importantly, what’s a thought?

          They make ultimate claims without providing a single mechanism or demonstrating a single reliable method of evaluating even a portion of those claims.

          Their claims survive through repetition. The same arguments recycled over and over. No matter how many times they’ve been shown to be unconvincing.

          Apologetics is the last defense. The barbed wire at the perimeter of the compound. For those who dare to ask questions.

          It turns out they’ve had nothing all along.

          I would like as many people as possible to pause and notice that.

      • SparklingMoon

        the chapters in the Koran are arranged by length
        ————————
        There is no such a principle in the Quran that its earlier chapters are longer than the the next coming. For example the first chapter of the Quran has seven verses and the second one has 287 verses. Sixth chapter has 166 verses and seventh one has 207 verses.

        Actually the verses of Quran had not been revealed in that arrangement one after another as exist in the book of the Quran. For example some verses of a chapter had been revealed in the beginning of Islam in Mecca and some of them twenty years later in Medinah. Prophet of Islam had instructions of Gabriel for every verse to keep it in right chapter and right place among other verses.

        The Holy Quran is a collection of the verbal revelation of a period of about twenty three years and Prophet Mohammed (sa) used to commit it to memory whenever any portion of it was revealed to him by the angel Gabriel. It was written down by his appointed scribes to preserve the revelation in writings right from his dictation. And it was repeated to Prophet of Islam (sa) by angel Gibrail during the last Ramzan of his life.Many Many companions of Prophet of Islam (sa) had memorized the Holy Quran in the life of Prophet of Islam (sa) but in spite of it he had left it in a written form in the hands of Muslims.

        • Dys

          So really, even by your own admission, you’re relying on the failable memory of a human.

          So we can rightly assume the Qur’an isn’t divinely inspired. Because God having people write things down in a book on his behalf is an incredibly stupid way for a divine being to get his message across.

        • Greg G.

          There is no such a principle in the Quran that its earlier chapters are longer than the the next coming. For example the first chapter of the Quran has seven verses and the second one has 287 verses. Sixth chapter has 166 verses and seventh one has 207 verses.

          Surah

          The Arabic word Surah (or “Sura” سورة sūrah, plural “Suwar” سور) is used in Islam to mean a “chapter” of the Holy Qur’an. Each surah is traditionally ordered roughly in order of decreasing length.

          Books or collections of writings were often arranged for the convenience of the copyist. The copyist had to determing the number of pages and the size of the letters. Sheets would be laid out, folded and bound before the scribe would write each page by hand. The scribe would have to maintain the proper size of the lettering and adjust as necessary. It was easier to adjust smaller selections by making them bigger or smaller depending on how many pages were left. If the scribe ran out of pages to write on before running out of pages to copy, the endeavor was a waste.

        • SparklingMoon

          There are 114 Surahs or Suwar (chapters) in the Quran. The division of each Surah or chapter was told by Gabriel to prophet of Islam (sa) during his life time as each new Surah was started with a particular verse ”In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful”.

        • Greg G.

          Yet, they are arranged by length which makes them easier for the copyist to regulate the size of his handwriting. Even if Gabriel had given the order of the Surahs, copyists have apparently rearranged them for their own convenience.

          We are going to need evidence that people taking dictation from angels is even possible. A writing that implies a supernatural source for itself or other writings is most certainly a lie.

  • JBrown971

    Prinicple #1 – Otherwise known as, using scripture to interpret scripture.

    That is a clumsy description. Murky is a poor word choice. However, let me apply it correctly use this with the passages you list.

    Acts 26:23 vs Matthew 27:52:

    The obvious question raised is what is meant by ‘rise from the dead’? Furthermore is there something different about Christ’s resurrection and the others mentioned in the Bible. In order to properly answer that, we need to look at the books of the Bible written by Paul and see if any insight to what he was stating Acts. When we look at Romans 6:9 Paul says the following, “For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.” (This is important for the doctrine of original sin Romans 5:12). So what we see is that Paul, when mentioning Christ’s resurrection is speaking about the fact that he no longer can die, something the Christian looks forward to after our lives are over Romans 6:11. The people mentioned in the Bible did not rise from the dead free of sin and free from the bounds of death. They simply received a temporary reprieve. So Paul’s use of ‘rise from the dead’ as he spoke to King Agrippa about Christ, is in complete agreement with the rest of scripture.

    Acts 1:3 and Luke 24:51:

    Traditionally Luke is the writer of Luke and Acts. So, it would be reasonable to think that Luke could conclude his first volume with a paraphase and begin the second volume with a more drawn out description. This explanation is fitting with the end of Matthew. Also, when you read the end of Luke, the time lapse between v36 and v50 is not concise.

    Prophetic statements made by religious leaders regarding the end of the world are not Christian in nature, Matthew 24:36. Camping has misused the understanding of the text you quote from 1Thessalonians 5:4. If you read the context it is obviously not talking about knowing the date of the end of the world, but instead, that we have nothing to fear because we live in the light of Christ.

    You are correct, people do take liberty with the word of God; however, when evaluated with the whole scripture, it is easy to find the those using the Bible as a sock puppet and those using the Bible as God intended.

    Principle #2

    To begin, you expose your own bias when you state “ things we find horrifying today”. That is a subjective statement. We will, especially with slaves, see how your bias blinds your understanding.

    If you read Matthew 19, you see Christ speaking of divorce, it’s sinfulness against the God created act of marriage and how Moses created some of those laws as the people of Israel turned their back on God. Most likely as a way to maintain social order and anarchy within social relationships because of sin. Moreover, Christ is rather clear that marriage is between 1 man and 1 woman; which would be a stance against polygamy.

    As I pointed out your original bias, does what the Bible says about slavery conform to what we learn about slavery in the our text books. When you look at what the Bible says about slaves, much of it is to protect the slave, why? Wonder if slavery as you think of it was different than what the Jews were doing at the time. For example, Exodus 21:16 forbidding the enslavery that happened in Africa. There was also punishment for injuring a slave Exodus 21:26+27. Do not return an escaped slave Deuteronomy 23:15. Slaves were released on the 7th year and supplied Deuteronomy 15:12-15. So then, one must wonder if a voluntary system of slavery was established where welfare was lacking Leviticus 25:39-43. In addition, at a time when many aliens were simply killed, slavery might be the salvation for those people Leviticus 19:33-34. Especially as other countries lacked the same kindness as the rules would point out.

    Also it is interesting that in the NT, according to Paul we are all slaves. We are either a slave to sin or a slave to Christ. It is also shown that whether slave or free (physical earthly slavery) we are equal in God’s eyes. Finally Paul urges Philemon to release his slave as a brother.

    So asking if God approves of slavery, in the context of African slaves, is a dishonest question. Did God create rules to protect the disadvantaged in a society where slavery was used as a welfare system? Yes.

    • MNb

      “we need to look at the books of the Bible written by Paul”
      Thanks for confirming what I wrote underneath the previous article. This is founded on the assumption that the Bible is consistent. You justify that assumption with “divinely inspired”, which only can result in circularity.

      “When you look at what the Bible says about slaves, much of it is to protect the slave,”
      And why again do slaves need protection? Because the Bible approves of slavery. Thanks.
      Hey – you know what would have been a great move? If Jesus (or some other prominent character in your favourite Holy Book) had said something like “set your slave free if he/she expresses the wish”.
      Telling nobody in the Bible ever did. So much for your ancient welfare system.

      • JBrown971

        “divinely inspired”

        Now you are moving the goal posts. That had nothing to do with this article.

        • MNb

          No, but everything with your comment, to which I reacted. Without the assumption that the Bible is consistent it doesn’t make any more sense to use Acts as a clarification of Mattheus (or the other way round) as using the Harry Potter series to clarify The Lord of the Ring.
          And the assumption that the Bible is consistent is only justified by “divinely inspired”. With only human inspiration we cannot but expect inconsistencies.
          Which is exactly why a secular understanding of the Bible is so much easier, including the oh so difficult (no, it isn’t) Revelation.

        • JBrown971

          Still not on topic.

          I assume the author will move on to divine inspiration in his final 3 principle.

        • Michael Neville

          You brought up the topic.

        • MNb

          No? Didn’t you use Acts to clarify Mattheus?

        • Rudy R

          And we all assume that you will continue proselytizing the same, tired old drivel only good for Christian consumption.

        • Greg G.

          You moved that goalpost with:

          Did God create rules to protect the disadvantaged in a society where slavery was used as a welfare system? Yes.

      • Better yet, how about “don’t own people”?

        • MNb

          Yes – but then you get the answer “if Jesus had said that economy would have collapsed”. And that might be correct.

        • Greg G.

          But there could have been a few chapters in Deuteronomy about how to maintain a robust and humane economic model. Why would God create a world or a species where that was not possible?

        • Even if one were to leave a basic system of ancient slave labor intact, it’s not hard to imagine something better than a set of rules whose limitations on rod-beating depended mostly on whether (a) the beaten slave lingered for a while before dying, or (b) he or she suffered permanent disfigurement.

          In fact, history offers examples. Authorities in Ptolemaic Egypt issued a decree banning the beating of slaves, and maltreated slaves in ancient Athens could seek asylum in the temple and petition for a forced sale to a more humane master.

          (But I guess that’s Athena for you–one of those bleeding-heart liberal deities.)

        • Greg G.

          I came up with three links for examples of sets of laws that protected slaves within a few centuries of the OT era. I used them in that big reply to JBrown on slavery. Do you have links for those Greek and Ptolemaic laws so I can steal them and use them the next time a Christian tries to use the “more humane than their neighbors” defense of slavery.

        • The Ptolemaic ordinance is discussed on pages 52-53 of William Linn Westerman’s The Slave Systems of Greek and Roman Antiquity. Google Books has the whole thing online.

          Page 18 of the same book discusses temple asylum for slaves in Athens. (It’s also something I recall reading about in other books, but I can’t readily provide those citations.)

          This is also interesting reading: http://scholarship.kentlaw.iit.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3004&context=cklawreview

        • Greg G.

          Thank you very much.

        • MNb

          Yeah – one of the many things that would have been nice to have in the Bible. We are spoiled for choice, aren’t we?

        • Telling people to abandon their possessions and families to follow him couldn’t possibly have been good for GDP growth either, but that didn’t seem to trouble JC.

        • adam

          “if Jesus had said that economy would have collapsed”

          So much for being a ‘god’

        • Wait! I know the response to this one–Context!

          No? Um . . . free will, then, defintitely free will.

          What? Oh, c’mon. Fine. Mysterious.

          I’m so tired of that one.

        • Even if so, surely a benevolent, omniscient, omnipotent being could have arranged things to prevent the need.

        • Presumably if Jesus had been so worried about the economic implications of his advice being obeyed, he wouldn’t have told people to sell all their stuff and give away the money. In any case he could at least have gone as far as the stoics did in describing slavery as undesirable.

          In any case, this objection assumes that the institution of slavery would suddenly end in the Roman Empire. The actual effect of a condemnation of slavery by Jesus would presumably have been for Christians to not practice slavery, and free any slaves they owned; and the population of non-slavers would grow as Christianity grew, leading to a slow and manageable transition away from the slave system.

    • Michael Neville

      We are either a slave to sin or a slave to Christ.

      You may be a slave, I’m not. That’s one reason to reject your superstition, it’s based on people being broken and needing a “master” to lead them. You may be broken, I’m not and I resent you claiming that I’m broken.

      • JBrown971

        I apologize. Lead your life in whatever way you please.

        • Michael Neville

          How very gracious of you to grant your permission.

        • JBrown971

          I thought you were looking for me to rationalize your existence. Since you made it apparent that my words had boxed you in.

        • Michael Neville

          I don’t feel boxed in. I feel YOU are trying to box me in by telling me I’m either a slave to a fictitious being or a slave to sin. This is one problem many Christians have. You think everyone is broken sinners and the only fix is Jesus. I don’t feel broken and I’m not a sinner* I readily admit I have my faults, which I try to remedy, but that’s part of being human. I do not need a mythological creature to fix me because I don’t need fixing.

          *The only sin is when you treat people like things, including yourself. Figments of bronze age priests’ imaginations cannot be sinned against.

        • Dys

          Christians have a hard time comprehending how much of their worldview is rejected by atheists. They like to pretend that it’s pretty much the same as theirs, just without the God part. For some odd reason, they still mistakenly think we buy into all the crap the explicitly relies on God, like sin.

          Telling them that the whole ‘sin’ construct is rejected as well makes their brains hurt.

        • Susan

          They like to pretend that it’s pretty much the same as theirs, just without the God part.

          They seem to believe that we accept the God part, but that our pride and desire to “sin” motivates us to deny the God part.

          All without them being able to make any sort of case for their position.

          How do you argue with that?

        • Dys

          I’ve run into those types as well. But since their position relies directly on a bad faith assumption on their part, I tell them to piss off 🙂

        • Susan

          since their position relies directly on a bad faith assumption on their part, I tell them to piss off 🙂

          Then, who is left to talk to?

        • Dys

          I have talked with some who at the very least appeared to accept that I don’t really believe in God. Their arguments against me were still terrible, but they didn’t argue that point.

        • MNb

          I usually try to make their brains hurt.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Telling them that the whole ‘sin’ construct is rejected as well makes their brains hurt.

          or just ‘confirms’ their myth that atheism = infinite selfishness, lawlessness, etc..

        • MNb

          Depends on how you formulate it. I use something like “I’m not exactly perfect, but I’m not a sinner. Sin is a meaningless word.” makes their brains hurt indeed. For some reason they think “You’re a sinner and only Jesus can save you” a main selling point. They think it even sells better when formulated as “I’m a sinner and I put my fate in the hands of Jesus.” It’s fun to explain them what’s exactly wrong with it.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i concur; even without the brain-hurting perk it’s far more honest (and functionally modest) than what i see too often from our more aggressive ‘brethren’ (a brash dismissal which does effectively nothing to debunk the atheism=debauched-abandon myth).

        • adam

          Sin?

        • Michael Neville

          “…And that’s what your holy men discuss, is it?” [asked Granny Weatherwax.]

          “Not usually. There is a very interesting debate raging at the moment on the nature of sin. for example.” [answered Mightily Oats.]

          “And what do they think? Against it, are they?”

          “It’s not as simple as that. It’s not a black and white issue. There are so many shades of gray.”

          “Nope.”

          “Pardon?”

          “There’s no grays, only white that’s got grubby. I’m surprised you don’t know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people like things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.”

          “It’s a lot more complicated than that–”

          “No. It ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.”

          “Oh, I’m sure there are worse crimes–”

          “But they starts with thinking about people as things…”

          –Terry Pratchett, Carpe Jugulum

        • JBrown971

          “I feel YOU are trying to box me in by telling me I’m either a slave to a fictitious being or a slave to sin.”

          Oh, so your the victim in this whole thing. I have forced you to except nothing, nor become anything. You appear unable to come to terms with the worldview of another. Everyone must make special exceptions for Michael Neville so he won’t walk away with the impression that some else’s worldview differs from his.

        • MNb

          “You appear unable to come to terms with the worldview of another.”
          Of course we are unable to do so. Your worldview consists of rejecting science.
          How many more open doors to kick in do you have?

        • Michael Neville

          JBrown not only rejects science, xe rejects reality.

        • Michael Neville

          I see thinking is not your first language. I said you were trying to box me, I didn’t say you had succeeded. Your attempts to label me and the rest of humanity as “slaves to Jesus or slaves to sin” have failed in my case but are still annoying.

          BTW, learn the difference between “except” and “accept.” You’ll appear somewhat less ignorant if you use these words correctly.

        • Pofarmer

          “You’ll appear somewhat less ignorant if you use these words correctly.”

          It’s gonna take somewhat more than a grammar lesson.

        • Michael Neville

          Baby steps, proper vocabulary and grammar are baby steps.

        • Susan

          Oh, so your the victim in this whole thing.

          Again, that’s not even close to what he said.

          I have forced you to except nothing, nor become anything.

          Where did Michael say you did?

          You appear unable to come to terms with the worldview of another.

          He came to terms with it just fine. It’s just that it’s an unsupported claim you call a “worldview”. He doesn’t accept it because you haven’t supported it.

          Everyone must make special exceptions for Michael Neville or he will walk away.

          You’ve got to be kidding. He never threatened to walk away. He doesn’t accept your claim. It’s without support and it’s immoral. He never threatened to walk away, nor has he.

          Has it occurred to you that it’s possible that you haven’t made a case but are happy to say that Michael is a slave and Michael rejects that?

          the impression that someone else’s world view differs from his

          I’m sure Michael’s familiar with that concept. It’s just that he doesn’t accept world views that aren’t supported.

          “World view”.

          Cute. Nice try.

          You’ll have to do better.

        • Susan

          I thought you were looking for me to rationalize your existence.

          We should trust your ability to interpret ancient documents when you can’t interpret something as straightforward as Michael’s comment?

          “I am not a slave.”

          That is not a request for anything, least of all for you to rationalize his existence. What a strange response.

          Since you made it apparent that my words had boxed you in.

          Quite the opposite. As much as you’d like that to be the effect, he’s not buying in.

    • Max Doubt

      “You are correct, people do take liberty with the word of God; however, when evaluated with the whole scripture, it is easy to find the those using the Bible as a sock puppet and those using the Bible as God intended.”

      It takes some seriously ballsy arrogance to claim it’s easy to interpret the Christian myths correctly. It sounds like the person who claims to get it should be out telling the rest of the world, explaining this easy stuff to all those idiots who disagree, eh? As it is, they all think they’re the ones who get it, too.

      • JBrown971

        The same ballsy arrogance by everyone else on this page?

        ” It sounds like the person who claims to get it should be out telling the rest of the world, explaining this easy stuff to all those idiots who disagree, eh?”

        Christ did.

        • adam

          “” It sounds like the person who claims to get it should be out
          telling the rest of the world, explaining this easy stuff to all those idiots who disagree, eh?”

          Christ did.”

        • Max Doubt

          “The same ballsy arrogance by everyone else on this page?”

          Nobody else on this page is professing to know the mind of the all powerful invisible magical master of the universe. That’s the exclusive domain of the god believers, those who agree with your interpretation of those ancient myths and those who don’t. Your suggestion that you understand your bible while other god believers who disagree with you are wrong is arrogant bordering on narcissism.

          “Christ did.”

          Helpful hint: There is no objective evidence to support any claims that any gods are anything other than figments of individuals’ imaginations. Since you cannot objectively distinguish between your god character and the invisible princess sitting in the empty chair at a little girl’s make-believe tea party, from out here, objectively, when you talk of gods as if they’re real, you’re talking about an imaginary friend. We atheists aren’t playing your juvenile game of let’s pretend. Unless you’re an utterly inconsiderate asshole, while you’re on this forum you’ll stop talking as if those imaginary friends of yours are real.

        • JBrown971

          “Nobody else on this page is professing to know the mind of the all powerful invisible magical master of the universe.”

          That is not what you said. You said arrogance in interpreting the Christians ‘myths’. Which is exactly what everyone else is doing. If you wish to change the subject to reading God’s mind, then you acknowledge your previous statement included everyone and not just the Christian on this page.

          “We atheists aren’t playing your juvenile game of let’s pretend. Unless you’re an utterly inconsiderate asshole, while you’re on this forum you’ll stop talking as if those imaginary friends of yours are real.”

          It is not I who started the conversation, but the atheist. Apparently, ‘we atheists’ should be allowed to say anything without the fear of being challenged. If this is a ‘little girl’s make believe tea party’ how is it such an assault on the atheist? Why do you and author exude such a religious fever in demanding others adhere to your beliefs?

        • adam

          “. You said arrogance in interpreting the Christians ‘myths’. ”

          Myths like IMAGINARY ‘god’s are the creation of MEN.

          ” If you wish to change the subject to reading God’s mind,”

          IMAGINARY characters out of books dont have minds.

          ” Why do you and author exude such a religious fever in demanding others adhere to your beliefs?”

          Reality over IMAGINATION.

          Of course, what we ASK is that you demonstrate that YOUR ‘god’ is not IMAGINARY.

          But you FAIL to be able to do so…

        • MNb

          You can challenge as much and whatever you like. If that challenge consists of playing a juvenile game you can be sure somebody rubs that under your creationist nose.

        • adam

          “Apparently, ‘we atheists’ should be allowed to say anything without the fear of being challenged.”

          We are here to BE CHALLENGED

          You just appear to be incapable of doing so honestly

        • Max Doubt

          “That is not what you said. You said arrogance in interpreting the Christians ‘myths’. Which is exactly what everyone else is doing.”

          Since you seem to have difficulty reading a half a screen above, what I actually said was, “It takes some seriously ballsy arrogance to claim it’s easy to interpret the Christian myths correctly.”

          You claimed it’s easy to determine who is and is not using your bible as your god intended. You claim to know the mind, the intent of a god. Your implication is that you find it easy to sort the correct interpretation from the incorrect. That’s some ballsy arrogance, your dishonest equivocation notwithstanding.

          As far as the tales in the Christian bible, there is no objective evidence to support any claims that any of the alleged miracles or magical events ever actually occurred. The tales are, objectively, as near to and as far from true as any other similar works which we all generally agree fall into the category of myths.

          “If you wish to change the subject to reading God’s mind, then you acknowledge your previous statement included everyone and not just the Christian on this page.”

          No, but you stooping to dishonesty isn’t surprising one little bit. None of the atheists here are claiming to know what any god meant by anything. We don’t accept the claims that any gods exist. Any discussion among atheists about the various tales in the Christian bible are hypothetical, conversations based on the stories being works of fiction. It’s a lot like if you watched an episode of Star Trek and afterward talked with a friend about how Captain Picard should have done this or that, or how Geordi’s visor worked differently in a previous episode.

          “It is not I who started the conversation, but the atheist.”

          Correct. So when you come wandering in to the conversation, have a little fucking respect, will ya?

          “Apparently, ‘we atheists’ should be allowed to say anything without the fear of being challenged.”

          Unless you can objectively demonstrate that your god thing is something other than a figment of your imagination, since that is what it most closely resembles given all the criteria, we’ll accept it as that. You want to challenge our objective observation and analysis? Provide some way to objectively distinguish what you claim to be a god from the invisible princess sitting in the empty chair at the seven year old’s pretend tea party.

          Think about it for a second. Gods can’t do anything. They aren’t visible. They can’t push or pull or make things appear or disappear. The alleged existence of any god is indistinguishable from its non-existence.

          “If this is a ‘little girl’s make believe tea party’ how is it such an assault on the atheist?”

          It’s not so much an assault, but there are millions of people who believe their imaginary friends have some influence on everyone else’s life, and they work to institute social policy based on that delusion.

          Gods don’t do anything. They can’t. But people who believe gods exist do. And being that in at least one area of their thinking they are clearly unable to differentiate between objective reality and figments of their imaginations, they often do a pretty shitty job of making decisions about stuff on this side of the fantasy/reality line.

          “Why do you and author exude such a religious fever in demanding others adhere to your beliefs?”

          You can believe whatever you like. But when you come into a group of atheists who are having a conversation, and you start talking about a magical invisible buddy of yours as if it’s a real actual thing, you’re being as rude as the child who comes into a room full of adults and keeps telling people to move over so his imaginary friend can sit there.

          We aren’t in on your game of make believe, and we don’t want to be. You can go play that game with other people who are into the same juvenile nonsense you’re into. You’ve been asked nicely to knock off that silly behavior here.

        • I was about to respond … until I saw that Max made a far better comment than whatever I had in my head.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Christ doesn’t claim to have, so what are you talking about?

    • Greg G.

      How does Paul know in Romans 6:9 that Jesus rising from the dead means death no longer has mastery over him but the zombies in Matthew rising from the dead doesn’t meant that death no longer has mastery over them? Yu just made that up. Your apologetic makes no sense.

      But the expanded version in Acts still contradicts the paraphrase in Luke. In Acts 1:4, he tells them to stay in Jerusalem. In Matthew 28:7, the angel tells the women to tell the disciples to go to Galilee. Three verses later, Jesus tells them the same thing and that they will seem there. But in Luke 24, he is seenon the road to Emmaus and then by the whole group in Jerusalem. Were they all seeing the same Jesus? Was Jesus changing his story?

      In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, Paul is saying that those who were dead would rise first, then we who are alive would not be before the dead. He used the first person plural twice for the living and the third person plural for the dead. He was obviously wrong about that. He made the same error that Camping did that he warned against a half dozen verses later. Are you sure you should be taking Paul’s word on this stuff?

      Matthew 19:9 comes from Mark 10:11-12, which Mark took almost verbatim from 1 Corinthians 7:10-12 where Paul is referring to Deuteronomy 24:1-4 where there is nothing about women divorcing a man. But Paul was writing to Greeks where it was legal for women to divorce a man. Mark has Jesus talking about that, too, which shouldn’t have made sense to his disciples. That is probably why Matthew omitted that part of it.

      Bible slavery being a piece of heaven is a Christian myth. You are cherry-picking verses. You skipped right over Exodus 21:20-21 where an owner can beat a slave to death if they suffer for a day before finally dying. That slaves were released in the seventy year is a flat out lie that Christians tell each other. Indentured servants were released after six years, but those were only Hebrews. But there are instructions on how to trick an illiterate young indentured servant into becoming a slave for life by using family values in both Exodus and Leviticus. Slaves were foreigners who were bought with money. They did not go out after six years. Leviticaus 25:44-46 says to not treat the fellow Israelis harshly, which excluded the foreigner slaves.

      In that time, the surrounding cultures had protections for slaves and some were better than Leviticus and Exodus. Hammurabi Law: Three Classes, circa 19th century BC, appear to be better than the OT. Hittite Law had an aversion to the death penalty that favored slavery instead, circa 15th century BC, which would be better than the OT. Code of the Nesilim, circa 16th century BC, doesn’t seem so bad for slaves.

      Paul spoke metaphorically about everybody being slaves. Paul does not urge Philemon to release Onesimus, he only says to treat him as a metaphorical brother.

      Slavery in America followed the Bible to the letter in the beginning.

      Why are Christians so dishonest about the Bible and slavery? Here is what it really says:

      When the Bible is against something; there is often a “Thou shalt not” in front of it.

      Exodus 20:13-17 (NRSV)13 You shall not murder.14 You shall not commit adultery.15 You shall not steal.16 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.17 You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

      Leviticus 19:19 (NRSV)19 You shall keep my statutes. You shall not let your animals breed with a different kind; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed; nor shall you put on a garment made of two different materials.

      Deuteronomy 14:8 (NRSV)8 And the pig, because it divides the hoof but does not chew the cud, is unclean for you. You shall not eat their meat, and you shall not touch their carcasses.

      We don’t see that with slavery. Other cultures of that time and in that vicinity ate pork but not the Hebrews so it is not just a cultural norm.

      Exodus 12:43-45 (NRSV)43 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: This is the ordinance for the passover: no foreigner shall eat of it, 44 but any slave who has been purchased may eat of it after he has been circumcised; 45 no bound or hired servant may eat of it.

      Leviticus 22:10-11 (NRSV)10 No lay person shall eat of the sacred donations. No bound or hired servant of the priest shall eat of the sacred donations; 11 but if a priest acquires anyone by purchase, the person may eat of them; and those that are born in his house may eat of his food.

      These passages show that purchased slave were not indentured servants.

      Leviticus 25:44-46 (NRSV)44 As for the male and female slaves whom you may have, it is from the nations around you that you may acquire male and female slaves. 45 You may also acquire them from among the aliens residing with you, and from their families that are with you, who have been born in your land; and they may be your property. 46 You may keep them as a possession for your children after you, for them to inherit as property. These you may treat as slaves, but as for your fellow Israelites, no one shall rule over the other with harshness.

      Slaves could be kept forever and could be bequeathed to the owner’s heirs. They could be treated like slaves and they are excluded from the injunction of not being treated harshly.

      Exodus 21:20-21 (NRSV)20 When a slaveowner strikes a male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies immediately, the owner shall be punished. 21 But if the slave survives a day or two, there is no punishment; for the slave is the owner’s property.

      A slave could be beaten to death without punishment if they could walk away from it and suffer through the night, or at least until sunset when the next day started.

      Deuteronomy 15:12-17 (NRSV)12 If a member of your community, whether a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you and works for you six years, in the seventh year you shall set that person free. 13 And when you send a male slave out from you a free person, you shall not send him out empty-handed. 14 Provide liberally out of your flock, your threshing floor, and your wine press, thus giving to him some of the bounty with which the Lord your God has blessed you. 15 Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; for this reason I lay this command upon you today. 16 But if he says to you, “I will not go out from you,” because he loves you and your household, since he is well off with you, 17 then you shall take an awl and thrust it through his earlobe into the door, and he shall be your slave forever.You shall do the same with regard to your female slave.

      Exodus 21:2-6 (NRSV)2 When you buy a male Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, but in the seventh he shall go out a free person, without debt. 3 If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. 4 If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s and he shall go out alone. 5 But if the slave declares, “I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out a free person,” 6 then his master shall bring him before God. He shall be brought to the door or the doorpost; and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him for life.

      These passages show that even a Hebrew could be made a slave for life. Exodus spells out exactly how to use family values to con an illiterate teenager into becoming such a slave.

      But the New Testament is different, right? Jesus says to not have slaves, right? Wrong!

      Luke 12:47-48 (NRSV)47 That slave who knew what his master wanted, but did not prepare himself or do what was wanted, will receive a severe beating. 48 But the one who did not know and did what deserved a beating will receive a light beating. From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.

      Jesus is in favor of slaves being beaten, even for no reason.

      In Philemon, Paul is writing to the owner of Onemisus in order to return the slave to his rightful master. He doesn’t make a plea for his release, only that he not be treated badly, because that apparently didn’t go without saying in the first century Christian community.

      But the rest of the New Testament calls for slaves to be freed, right? Nope. They are to obey their earthly masters.

      Ephesians 6:5-9 (NRSV)5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ; 6 not only while being watched, and in order to please them, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. 7 Render service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to men and women, 8 knowing that whatever good we do, we will receive the same again from the Lord, whether we are slaves or free. 9 And, masters, do the same to them. Stop threatening them, for you know that both of you have the same Master in heaven, and with him there is no partiality.

      Colossians 3:22 (NRSV)22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything, not only while being watched and in order to please them, but wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord.

      1 Timothy 6:1 (NRSV)6 Let all who are under the yoke of slavery regard their masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be blasphemed.

      Titus 2:9 (NRSV)9 Tell slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect; they are not to talk back,

      1 Peter 2:18-20 (NRSV)18 Slaves, accept the authority of your masters with all deference, not only those who are kind and gentle but also those who are harsh. 19 For it is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly. 20 If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval.

      Was that because it was just the way society was in the first century? No, here is a Roman pagan writer who thinks of slaves as friends who should be treated well.

      “‘They are slaves,’ people declare. NO, rather they are men.

      ‘Slaves! NO, comrades.

      ‘Slaves! NO, they are unpretentious friends.

      ‘Slaves! NO, they are our fellow-slaves, if one reflects that Fortune has equal rights over slaves and free men alike. That is why I smile at those who think it degrading for a man to dine with his slave.

      But why should they think it degrading? It is only purse-proud etiquette… All night long they must stand about hungry and dumb… They are not enemies when we acquire them; we make them enemies… This is the kernel of my advice: Treat your inferiors as you would be treated by your betters.

      ‘He is a slave.’ His soul, however, may be that of a free man.”

          — Seneca the Younger (4 BC – 65 AD), Epistulae Morales, 47.

      Jesus doesn’t think slaves should even be thanked for their service.

      7 “Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? 8 Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? 9 Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’” –Jesus, Luke 17:7-10

      Both the Old Testament and the New Testament allow for slavery and even harsh treatment of slaves. It is dishonest when Christians try to equivocate slavery with indentured servitude, the way foreign slaves are treated with the way Hebrew servants are treated.

      • JBrown971

        You’re obviously right.

        • Greg G.

          Christian apologetics on biblical slavery should make one question the whole apologetics approach. Did your source deliberately skip over the verses that show that slavery was not all roses with no thorns or did you?

        • adam

          “Christian apologetics on biblical slavery should make one question the whole apologetics approach.”

        • JBrown971

          Yes, we only see what God has told us to see.

        • Greg G.

          No wonder you are stumbling around in the dark.

        • adam

          “Yes, we only see what God has told us to see.”

          But of course…..

        • busterggi

          God sure wants a lot of people to watch porn.

        • Susan

          we only see what God has told us to see.

          You know this, how?

        • Dys

          He used his crystal ball and consulted the astrological charts.

      • Let’s not overlook how Moses explained God’s instructions for plain, old-fashioned enslavement by threat or use of force.

        “When you draw near to a town to fight against it, offer it terms of peace. If it accepts your terms of peace and surrenders to you, then all the people in it shall serve you at forced labor. If it does not submit to you peacefully, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it; and when the Lord your God gives it into your hand, you shall put all its males to the sword. You may, however, take as your booty the women, the children, livestock, and everything else in the town, all its spoil. You may enjoy the spoil of your enemies, which the Lord your God has given you. Thus you shall treat all the towns that are very far from you, which are not towns of the nations here.” Deuteronomy 20:10-15 (NRSV) (emphasis mine).

        Alas, those are the lucky ducks. All the inhabitants of “the towns of the nations here”–in other words, within the lands promised to Abraham–are to be utterly annihilated. Deuteronomy 20:17 (NRSV).

        • Greg G.

          But it seems like the rules changed for nearly every battle. One time everybody including animals had to die, another time, someone gets stoned for taking spoils. Sometimes taking wives from the enemy is a death sentence.

        • Well, the OT is an accretion of laws and stories that developed over a period of several centuries at the hands of numerous authors. Between that and a shortage of qualified copy-editors, you’ve got the perfect conditions for serious continuity errors.

    • tsig

      God could have made a rule “Thou shalt not have slaves, take care of the disadvantaged” but we know that god is bound bu human custom.

      • Greg G.

        I like MNb’s version. Thou shalt release any slave who doesn’t wish to be slave. That the gist but it’s not verbatim.

      • busterggi

        Outdated Bronze-age custom at that.

    • The people mentioned in the Bible did not rise from the dead free of sin and free from the bounds of death. They simply received a temporary reprieve.

      That’s true for the people that Jesus raises up, like Lazarus. Lazarus would then live for a while longer and then die again (this time permanently) just like the rest of us.

      But we’re not talking about that here.

      it would be reasonable to think that Luke could conclude his first volume with a paraphase and begin the second volume with a more drawn out description.

      And now you’re doing it yourself. “You see, the 40 days is the clear passage, so let’s take that and assume that the single day from Luke is unclear. Let’s just pretend that data point just doesn’t exist.” Of course, 40 days is what you want to accept, so you tap dance an argument for how to reject the single day.

      when you read the end of Luke, the time lapse between v36 and v50 is not concise.

      If it pleased you to imagine one day you’d be saying the opposite. This passage is very clearly talking about no more than one day.

      Prophetic statements made by religious leaders regarding the end of the world are not Christian in nature, Matthew 24:36.

      And you’re doing it again. You like (or are accustomed to) Matt. 24:36 and so ignore other verses.

      Don’t you see a problem? You’re kinda setting yourself up as God so that you decide how to resolve the ambiguity.

      Camping has misused the understanding of the text you quote from 1Thessalonians 5:4. If you read the context it is obviously not talking about knowing the date of the end of the world, but instead, that we have nothing to fear because we live in the light of Christ.

      What part of “the day of the Lord” do you not understand? All of it, it would seem.

      You are correct, people do take liberty with the word of God; however, when evaluated with the whole scripture, it is easy to find the those using the Bible as a sock puppet and those using the Bible as God intended.

      Based on this comment so far, it seems that you are the Bible = sock puppet person. If you disagree with me, then perhaps you have a glimmer of understanding about how malleable the Bible is.

      you expose your own bias when you state “ things we find horrifying today”. That is a subjective statement.

      Quite so. I think that any survey will show that I speak for the general public.

      If you read Matthew 19, you see Christ speaking of divorce, it’s sinfulness against the God created act of marriage and how Moses created some of those laws as the people of Israel turned their back on God.

      Hard to believe that something as simple as marriage could be so confusing. Was it Moses or Jesus who screwed up?

      Christ is rather clear that marriage is between 1 man and 1 woman

      Where does he say that?

      As I pointed out your original bias

      No, you claimed it, without evidence.

      does what the Bible says about slavery conform to what we learn about slavery in the our text books.

      No, I think Bible-condoned slavery is purged from public school textbooks.

      When you look at what the Bible says about slaves, much of it is to protect the slave, why?

      Just good husbandry, I’d think. You wouldn’t want to run your tractor without enough oil, and you wouldn’t want to beat your slaves to death.

      Wonder if slavery as you think of it was different than what the Jews were doing at the time.

      No, slavery in the OT was pretty much identical to that practiced in America. There was time-limited indentured servitude for people like us and slavery for life for Others.

      More here.

      Exodus 21:16 forbidding the enslavery that happened in Africa.

      Oh, that’s so cute! No, that’s talking about slavery of fellow Jews, what we call indentured servitude.

      Read Lev. 25:44-46 to see what God says about foreign slaves: “Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.”

      Also it is interesting that in the NT, according to Paul we are all slaves.

      What a lovely metaphor! How do I sign up?

      Paul thought that the End was around the corner. That’s why he didn’t care for marriage or ending slavery. Why bother?

      No, what’s interesting is that in the NT, Jesus doesn’t one frikkin’ word against slavery. Not very wise for being omniscient, it seems to me.

      Paul urges Philemon to release his slave as a brother.

      Seriously? You’re actually going to trot out this as your example of the bold stand the Bible takes against slavery?

      Read the book. Paul was asking for a favor for one slave.

      • JBrown971

        “But we’re not talking about that here”
        Then what are you talking about. I have shown through biblical text that the resurrection of Christ was spoken about by Paul differently than the resurrection of Lazarus or the dead at the crucifixion.

        “Let’s just pretend that data point just doesn’t exist.”
        What data? There are a few vs and chapter breaks in the Bible that were added later and are not correct. V50 says nothing about what day they went out to Bethany. It seems you are forcing your desires on the Bible now.

        “And you’re doing it again.” “You’re kinda setting yourself up as God”. “What part of “the day of the Lord” do you not understand?”
        Christ repeats the statement twice in Matt24. In vs36 and again in vs 42. Mark also makes the same statement in 13:32 Had you read 1Thess5:1-11 it states the ‘day of the Lord’ will come like a thief, just like in Matthew. It is Camping taking the text out of context. Christian Doctrine has always held that we do not know the time. It makes Camping a liar.

        “Quite so.”
        If it is a subjective statement and you acknowledge that, isn’t it appropriate to identify your biases and lay out the cultural differences?

        “something as simple as marriage”
        Are you married? Simple is not the title I would give it.

        “Was it Moses or Jesus who screwed up?”
        The people of Israel and Moses became an enabler.

        “Where does he say that?”
        Did you read the passage? Christ references Genesis 2 and says “the two (man and woman stated in the vs prior) will become one”.

        “No, you claimed it, without evidence.”
        You acknowledge it. So which side of this coin are you taking?

        “No, I think Bible-condoned slavery is purged from public school textbooks.”
        The Bible never condoned slavery (oddly enough the early evolutionists did). My point was does the slavery of the Bible match up with slavery in the 17th century we read about in textbooks.

        “More here.”
        I am not going to accept, nor read links to your own articles as scholarly work. Do you have actual links showing the similarities in practice of Hebrews and 17th century Europeans, not simply your biased interpretation.

        “Read Lev. 25:44-46”
        Cut and paste, cut and paste. You have no desire to understand the customs of the day nor dig deeper into the text. Further, you have shown above with regard to Camping, you care little for context. So explanation seems pointless.

        • BlackMamba44

          Did you read the passage? Christ references Genesis 2 and says “the two (man and woman stated in the vs prior) will become one”.

          http://www.wouldjesusdiscriminate.org/biblical_evidence/ruth_naomi.html

          Ruth loved Naomi as Adam loved Eve

          The same Hebrew word that is used in Genesis 2:24 to describe how Adam felt about Eve (and how spouses are supposed to feel toward each other) is used in Ruth 1:14 to describe how Ruth felt about Naomi. Her feelings are celebrated, not condemned.

          And throughout Christian history, Ruth’s vow to Naomi has been used to illustrate the nature of the marriage covenant. These words are often read at Christian wedding ceremonies and used in sermons to illustrate the ideal love that spouses should have for one another. The fact that these words were originally spoken by one woman to another tells us a lot about how God feels about same-gender relationships….

          …To understand the full impact of what happened, we need to put ourselves in the mindset of the time. When this story was written, women had only two acceptable places in society: They could be a daughter in their father’s household or a wife in their husband’s household. A woman without a man had no social standing. There are several stories in the Old Testament about widows who almost starved to death, because they had no man to take care of them. (See note 1.) The constant biblical command to “look after widows and orphans” stems from the understanding that widows were among the most vulnerable people in society.

          This context makes the next scene almost unbelievable. Naomi, grieving and recognizing her fate as a widow, decides to return to Bethlehem where her father’s family is, and where she hopes to find food. She counsels her daughters-in-law to do the same — to return to their own families. She knows she can’t offer them any support as a woman, and she fears she’ll only be a burden. Orpah, sensibly, returns home.

          But Ruth cannot bear to do so. Her feelings run too deep. The Hebrew word used in Ruth 1:14 to describe those feelings is quite telling. The text says, “Ruth clung to [Naomi].” The Hebrew word for “clung” is “dabaq.” This is precisely the same Hebrew word used in Genesis 2:24 to describe how Adam felt toward Eve.

          You probably remember the story of Adam and Eve, as recorded in Genesis 2. After God creates Adam, he is terribly lonely. None of the animals God has created — magnificent as they are — can meet Adam’s deep need for companionship. So God puts Adam into a deep sleep, takes a rib from his side, and creates Eve. When Eve is presented to Adam, he exclaims, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh . . . !” Finally, Adam had a human companion.

          The next verse in the text then draws an important theological conclusion from Adam’s experience. It says that, for this reason (i.e., the need for companionship), a man should leave his father and mother when he grows up and “cling” (“dabaq”) to his wife. (Genesis 2:24) And, of course, for the vast majority of human beings, that is God’s will for them — for a man and woman to leave their parents home and form a relationship with each other that is so close, so intimate, that they can be described as “clinging” to one another.

          But what about people who aren’t heterosexual? Is it possible for them, with God’s blessing, to form that type of intimate relationship with someone of their own gender?

          The Holy Spirit answers that question definitively in Ruth 1:14. There the Scriptures say — without apology, embarrassment, or qualification — that Ruth felt the same way toward Naomi as spouses are supposed to feel toward each other. Far from being condemned, Ruth’s feelings are celebrated.

          In fact, so as to remove any doubt about how Ruth felt toward Naomi, the Scriptures go on to record the details of the vow that Ruth made to Naomi. Here are her words:

          “Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go; where you lodge I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die — there will I be buried. May the Lord do thus and so to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you!” (Ruth 1:16-17)

          When Ruth spoke those haunting words, “Where you die, I will die — there will I be buried,” she wasn’t talking about some theoretical distant future. She was giving voice to the very real possibility that her decision to place her life in the hands of another woman could result in death. The sensible thing would have been to allow Naomi to return to her family and for Ruth to return to hers. But Ruth didn’t do the sensible thing. She threw caution to the wind and went against every survival instinct. Only one word could explain her actions — love.

          After this speech, spoken in the first chapter, the story moves on to tell of Ruth and Naomi’s life together. The focus is on the quality of their relationship. The biblical storyteller chronicles how Ruth cared for Naomi by taking the only job available to a husbandless woman, gleaning. When the author tells of Ruth’s eventual marriage to a much older man, the marriage is portrayed as one of convenience, contrived to help Ruth and Naomi survive the harsh conditions of widowhood. No mention is made of Ruth’s love for her husband. And, when Ruth finally bears a son from her marriage, the text focuses on Naomi and her reaction to the great news, not on the father. In fact, the women of the village (and the author) ignore the father entirely, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” (Ruth 4:17) They remind her that Ruth “who loves you, is more to you than seven sons.” (Ruth 4:15) Everyone seems to understand that, for Ruth and Naomi, their most important relationship is the one they share.

          Here then is the story the Bible tells: Ruth felt toward Naomi as Adam felt toward Eve; she gave up everything so she could be with Naomi; she put her own life at risk, so she could spend it caring for Naomi; and, even after she married a man, her most important relationship remained the one she shared with Naomi. These actions and emotions are difficult, almost impossible, to explain as mere friendship. If we set aside our preconceptions of what is possible in the Bible, the book of Ruth reads like the story of two women in love.

          Instinctively, and perhaps unwittingly, Christians throughout the centuries have acknowledged the validity of this interpretation. The vow Ruth makes to Naomi (quoted above) has been read at Christian weddings for centuries because it so perfectly captures the essence of the love that should exist between spouses. It seems more than a little inconsistent to use these words to define and celebrate spousal love, but then adamantly insist that those who originally spoke the words did not love each other like spouses.

        • What data?

          What more is there to say? Acts says 40 days and Luke say 1. You can’t just ignore away the one you dislike.

          Had you read 1Thess5:1-11 it states the ‘day of the Lord’ will come like a thief, just like in Matthew. It is Camping taking the text out of context.

          It’d be much easier if we could go over each thing just once. I’ll repeat myself here as well: 1 Thes. 5:2 says, “the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” But then there’s a contrast two verses later: “But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.” Ordinary people surprised by the thief in the night (= day of the Lord) vs. the Thessalonians themselves who are not in darkness–see how that works? People of the night vs. people who are not in darkness?

          Christian Doctrine has always held that we do not know the time.

          Unimportant. I’m using the Bible.

          If it is a subjective statement and you acknowledge that, isn’t it appropriate to identify your biases and lay out the cultural differences?

          Do you have something to say? Then say it. Yes, I find slavery and genocide bad things. You disagree?

          When God condones slavery and orders genocide, I judge him as a bad person. Whether it’s you or God, I judge the actions the same. It’s really pretty simple when you think about it.

          Are you married? Simple is not the title I would give it.

          Are you a professional theologian? You have a marvelous facility at being confused at simple things and complicating any topic you approach.

          Did you read the passage? Christ references Genesis 2 and says “the two (man and woman stated in the vs prior) will become one”.

          A man marries a woman; that’s two people. Then the same man marries another woman. And another, and another.

          That’s how polygamy works—two people joined together, but then the man goes and does it over and over. Multiple individual marriages.

          The Bible never condoned slavery

          Lying makes baby Jesus cry—you should know that.

          Read Lev. 25:44-46.

          I am not going to accept, nor read links to your own articles as scholarly work. Do you have actual links showing the similarities in practice of Hebrews and 17th century Europeans, not simply your biased interpretation.

          Why point you to stuff if you’re too afraid or lazy to read it?

          I think I gave up the “it doesn’t exist if I haven’t read it” gambit when I was about five.

          Cut and paste, cut and paste. You have no desire to understand the customs of the day nor dig deeper into the text. Further, you have shown above with regard to Camping, you care little for context. So explanation seems pointless.

          Translation: “I got nothin’. I’m shooting blanks here. I have absolutely nothing by which to defend God and Jeebus against charges that they supported slavery. Move on to Plan B: more bluster.”

          If you ever grow a pair, c’mon back and see how your argument stands up to critique.

      • Scott_In_OH

        If it pleased you to imagine one day you’d be saying the opposite.

        The essence of presuppositionalism.

    • In the interests of time, I’m not gonna get into whether your selective citations of Mosaic laws, your eliding the distinctions between six-year debt-slavery for Hebrew males and permanent chattel-slavery for most anyone else, and your characterization of the whole shebang as a sort of voluntary welfare system might, just possibly, reflect a smidgen of bias on your part.

      Instead, I’d like to hone in on this: “Especially as other countries lacked the same kindness as the rules would point out.”

      Do you have any support for that assertion? My sense is that the treatment of slaves in the Mosaic code is not materially more (or less) humane than it is in most other legal codes of antiquity. There are differences in certain specifics, of course, but on the whole, the Hebrew laws regarding slavery strike me (pun intended) as being essentially as gritty and harsh–and man-made–as everyone else’s.

      • JBrown971

        That is a great question.

        What you see is the lack of humanity given to slaves in other ancient times. For example in Hammurabi, while the freedom year was 4 rather than seven, mistreatment of slaves held less risk. The punishment for poor treatment was a fine, one less than the that if a the same treatment were inflicted on a free person. This includes the killing of slaves. Further, the Code of Hammurabi makes distinct difference between freed vs slave; where in the Bible many of the punishments doled out assume equality among people (Ex 21:22-25)

        Less is known about ancient Egypt. We do know that freedom from slavery rarely if ever happened. We also know that slaves again held a less than human status according to the law.

        In ancient Greece, slavery was a widely practiced. Again we see a lack of humanity, as they weren’t even allowed to keep their own names. They performed many task. You could be the slave a family and treated well or a slave of the state and forced into labor where life expectancy was low. The slave trade was a large market. It is difficult to make direct comparisons because of the wide variance of slave jobs within the economy.

        It is the humanity of the slaves that survives in Biblical Laws. The oft quoted Ex 21:20-21 is an example. If proper scrutiny of the Bible is performed, we see that this law is repeated for the beating of a free man.

        • Greg G.

          The oft quoted Ex 21:20-21 is an example. If proper scrutiny of the Bible is performed, we see that this law is repeated for the beating of a free man.

          Cite? The justification in the Exodus passage is that the slave is the property of the owner so the loss of property is punishment enough. Other passages order an eye for an eye and a stripe for a stripe.

        • JBrown971

          Read the rest of the chapter.

          The word property, properly translated is silver. As such, the cost incurred for injuring the slave is on the owner (medical bills). Not unlike the cost he would pay for injuring a free man.

        • Greg G.

          You are comparing the cost of beating a slave to death with the fine for injuring a free man. It is not stripe for stripe. It would be a capital offense to beat a free man to death.

          You have been bamboozled by Christian apologetics.

        • busterggi

          Not unlike the cost he would pay for repairing a broken wagon or chair he owned either.

        • Right. You own your scythe, so be sure to keep it out of the rain. You own your ox, so be sure to feed it properly. You own your slave, so be sure to treat it properly–enough beating to keep it in line, but not so much that you damage it.

          That’s just good husbandry of your possessions.

        • 1. Let’s break this down. Exodus 21:20 provides that a master who kills his or her slave immediately with a rod-beating is to be punished, presumably with either execution or banishment, as explained in verses 12 through 14. This is the same punishment for killing a free Hebrew. Good so far.

          But verse 22 is explicitly more forgiving of a slave’s death, provided it is not immediate. If the slave lasts for a day or two, there is to be no punishment for the master whatsoever. The loss of the slave’s value is considered sufficient justice for a beating that is not immediately fatal.

          Someone who injures a free Hebrew so badly he dies after a day or two receives no such get-out-of-stoning-free card. He is to be punished in accordance with 12 and 14.

          2. Your discourse on medical bills and compensation in a discussion of ancient slave law is a first in my experience. Have an up-vote for novelty.

          It’s incorrect in a couple of ways that we don’t need to get into. Let’s just go ahead and run with your idea for a bit. Suppose Ezra beats one of his slaves so badly that she dies a couple days from now. According to you, Ezra’s penalty is the cost of one or two days of the local healer’s billable hours.

          Now, suppose Asher beats his neighbor Herschel so badly that Herschel also dies two days from now. What is Asher’s punishment? The exception in verse 22 doesn’t work, because Herschel isn’t his slave. Asher is stuck with verses 12 through 14–death for intentional murder, banishment for manslaughter.

          Sure seems like killing a free Hebrew who lingers for a day or two is a much more serious infraction than killing a slave who does the same. If both acts warranted the same punishment in the Hebrews’ (or Yahweh’s) eyes, then verses 20 and 21 wouldn’t have been written to encompass only only to slaves.

        • adam

          “It is the humanity of the slaves that survives in Biblical Laws. “

        • Dys

          I love all the dishonest tap-dancing apologists have to do to get around the blatant support for slavery in the bible.

          They have to conjure up all these provisos, insist that “everyone else was doing it!” and ignore bible verses to avoid admitting that what they’re really doing is saying that slavery isn’t immoral.

          Sorry, JBrown, but when you get right down to it, you’re making a pro-slavery argument. Own it.

        • “Everyone else was doing it!” is at least a materially accurate assessment, so I don’t mind it too much.

          But yeah, this generalization of slavery in the Torah as essentially a voluntary welfare system that preserved slaves’ equality and humanity is just an ahistoric concoction of cherry-picked verses, oversimplification, and wishful thinking.

        • TheNuszAbides

          “Everyone else was doing it!” is at least materially accurate …

          whew, cold comfort. in the inescapable authoritarian context, i find it appallingly disingenuous, on par with “god doesn’t give us more than we can handle[, but so what if he did?]”.

        • Greg G.

          Again we see a lack of humanity, as they weren’t even allowed to keep their own names.

          Slaves of Hebrews weren’t allowed to keep their own foreskins. Oh, the humanity!

        • Greg G.

          Less is known about ancient Egypt. We do know that freedom from slavery rarely if ever happened. We also know that slaves again held a less than human status according to the law.

          How is that different than Hebrew slavery.

        • Pofarmer

          “We do know that freedom from slavery rarely if ever happened. We also
          know that slaves again held a less than human status according to the
          law.”

          I’d be interested in how we “know” this. Everything I’ve seen indicatest that slavery in Ancient Egypt was much rarer than we’ve been led to believe. I have a feeling that this is just more (bad) apologetics.

        • Greg G.

          Most of what we knew about the pyramid building time is about pharoahs and gods. The Greeks and Roman records are closer to our time than to the pyramid construction era. Recently, they found graffiti written by the labor in hidden areas that give a different impression than the Roman writers had. They have also discovered living quarters. The pyramids might have been a sideline for after the harvest and before the next flooding of the Nile.

        • Pofarmer

          I also remember seeing a program, maybe on discovery or Nat Geographic or Science or the like, that said that most, if not all, of the Pyramid builders were paid.

        • OK—I’m getting it now. The Hebrews kept foreign slaves for life, but it was a decent kind of slavery. And they enslaved each other, but at least slaves got fed and it was only for six years.

          That reminds me of this quote from Lincoln: “Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.” Whaddya think? Can we sign you up?

        • Otto

          Once again the concept of consent flies right of the head of another Christian.

        • TheNuszAbides

          hardly surprising when the only consent that ultimately matters is the exercise of one’s Bog-given Free Will to accept His too-“good”-to-be-true offer …

        • Otto

          …an offer you cannot refuse…or else!

          Which then undermines the concept of consent (consent under duress).

        • TheNuszAbides

          pfah! clearly a notion cooked up by The Great Deceiver to seduce puny mortals and their overweening ~rationality~.

        • Greg G.

          And they enslaved each other, but at least slaves got fed and it was only for six years.

          The slaves so badly beaten that they became crippled or blind were forced into freedom so they could fend for themselves.

        • Aha–more insights. So slavery of fellow Hebrews was a welfare of sorts, unless the person actually needed it. Then he was on his own.

        • Otto

          You have to wonder why Christians don’t suggest slavery or indentured servitude as a solution to the homeless problem since it really is the humane thing to do.

        • MNb

          JB’s silence is deafening …..

        • I’m sure he’s preparing a Noachian-class deluge that’ll change lots of minds.

          Or maybe not.

        • Aram

          Oh man, you always get the ‘best’ apologists showing up, Bob 🙂

        • JBrown971

          What slavery are you using? That if the African in the 1700’s through 1860 or that of the ancient world? I’ll pass I the more recent slavery, but depending on my financial situation, it might make a viable option in the ancient world. It would be better than a homeless street beggar.

          Regarding the passage, I made no mistake. However, it is interesting that the words ‘can make’ weren’t bolded. The other societies never had that clause. The assumption was if a person was a slave, they were automatically less than human. Do you happen to know how often the ‘slave for life’ occurred in Hebrew culture?

        • 1. “However, it is intersting that the words ‘can make’ weren’t bolded. The other societies never had that clause.” I’m sorry, what does this even mean? That the laws of all the other socities of antiquity required permanent enslavement? That’s not at all the case. Like the Hebrews, many other societies had temporary forms of proprietary servitude, such as debt-slavery. Like the Hebrews, many other societies had rules that provided for the manumission of slaves. Like the Hebrews, many other societies both allowed and limited the corporal punishment of slaves. Like the Hebrews, many other societies permitted and engaged in the enslavement of conquered populations.

          2. “Do you happen to know how often the ‘slave for life’ occurred in Hebrew culture?”

          Very often, and there’s no reason to think it occurred less frequently among the Hebrews than any other society of antiquity. Cathrine Hezser, a scholar of ancient Jewish history at the University of London, has written extensively in this area, and I invite you to look into her works if this topic genuinely interests you. She discusses how the extant writings describe ancient Hebrews regularly buying, selling, and capturing permanent chattel-slaves.

          (Hezser would also disagree with your insistence that the Hebrew system was somehow uniquely protective to slaves’ humanity. A common theme I’ve seen in her work is that the differences between Hebrew and Roman slavery were negligible.)

        • Greg G.

          It would be better than a homeless street beggar.

          If a slave was injured so badly that they were crippled or blinded in one eye, the owner was required to free the slave. The owner was not required to care for the ex-slave. The slave would be reduced to a homelss street beggar.

          However, it is interesting that the words ‘can make’ weren’t bolded.

          In one paragraph you are saying being a slave is better than being “a homeless street beggar” and in the next you want to find the slightest hope that it is not necessarily for the life of the slave. Would a slave owner be more likely to release a slave if the slave still had value or when they were as useless to them as a street beggar? EDIT: Notice that the option was in favor of the slave owner.

          As you can see, what the Bible actually says about slavery is far different than the way Christians almost always portray Bible slavery.

          What slavery are you using? That if the African in the 1700’s through 1860 or that of the ancient world?

          If you compare them, you can see that the slavery of a few centuries ago was based on the slavery laws in the Bible.

        • And naturally he picks the least worst possibility–the life of a six-year Hebrew debt-slave.

          Gonna go out on a limb and suggest that the life of a gentile girl taken as booty by the man who just put her father and brothers to the sword would have significantly less appeal.

        • adam

          ….

        • Greg G.

          Not to mention the one whose virginity was taken a month later and the man who murdered her family decided he didn’t like her that much after all.

        • What slavery are you using? That if the African in the 1700’s through 1860 or that of the ancient world?

          I don’t understand your question.

          I’m saying that slavery in the U.S.—indentured servitude for fellow white people and slavery for life for not-white people—maps almost identically to Old Testament slavery. God is OK with indentured servitude for fellow Hebrews and slavery for life for Others (see Lev. 25:44-46).

          it is interesting that the words ‘can make’ weren’t bolded. The other societies never had that clause.

          Lev. 25:46: “You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life”

          So you admit that slavery for life, like that done to Africans in America, is peachy in Yahweh’s mind. So much for Yahweh being a good guy, amirite?

          But to your point, you’re quibbling about “can make”?? He’s your property, so you can capture someone and make him slave for life, set him free, or whatever you want. What Achilles heel did you think these two words work out to be?

          Do you happen to know how often the ‘slave for life’ occurred in Hebrew culture?

          Do you happen to know how many Europeans were slaves for life in America? None! Therefore, there was no slavery in America!

          (Did I do that right? That’s where you were going, right?)

        • The oft quoted Ex 21:20-21 is an example.

          You’re oft-quoting the wrong passage. It should be Lev. 25:44-46: “Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life

        • Thanks for responding.

          1. As I wrote earlier, my sense is that the Mosaic laws governing slavery are roughly on par with what we see in most other legal codes of antiquity (with variations to be expected, of course, when we look at certain specifics). The Torah describes God announcing rules for temporary debt-slavery and permanent chattel-slavery, parents selling their children into slavery, concubine-slavery, the acquisition of foreign slaves by pillage and purchase, and the corporal punishment of slaves. None of these norms and activities seem to be unusually awful or unusually enlightened for the time. Your response is largely consistent with that impression.

          The Babylonian Code of Hammurabi, as you note, offers protections for slaves–without the benefit of Yahweh’s words to Moses.

          With regard to the Greeks, giving slaves new names–an unfortunate but rather common practice throughout slavery’s history–doesn’t strike me as unusually cruel by the standards of antiquity. Nor does any other aspect of Greek slavery stand out as being exceptionally worse for that time (except for the plight of some of Sparta’s helots). As I noted elsewhere to Greg, maltreated Athenian slaves could seek asylum in the temple and request a forced sale to a kinder master. Killing a slave was a crime, even if the death was not intentional. Slaves were even frequently allowed to save up enough money to purchase their own freedom.

          (Your remark about the Egyptians is too vague for me to work with. I’ll just note that the Hellenistic Ptolemaic regime outlawed the beating of slaves–something Yahweh and Moses do not appear to have done.)

          2. Exodus 21:22-25 assumes equality?

          Oy, vey.

          Verses 22 through 25 reflect the default lex talionis governing wrongs committed against free Hebrews. If Ezra pokes Asher’s eye out, Ezra loses an eye. If Ezra chops Asher’s finger off, Ezra loses a finger. Life for life, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.

          But let’s not stop at verse 25. Verses 26 and 27 lessen the punishment for cases involving a slave who is disfigured, reflecting the slave’s diminished and unequal status. An owner who maims a slave would not suffer reciprocal maiming, as verses 23-25 would normally mandate; he simply loses ownership of his permanently damaged slave.

          If Chapter 21 actually reflected equality between slaves and free Hebrews, a slave struck by his master would be legally entitled to strike his master back. That cannot possibly be how things worked, and nothing in the Bible suggests they did. Quite the contrary.

          3. Gonna have to get back to you on 21:20-21. Work beckons.

        • Otto

          Maybe God should have just said…

          Thou Shalt Not own other People as Property.

          Problem solved.

        • Greg G.

          God could have grown the Tree of Knowledge of Science and Technology and they could have made machines that do the work of slaves more cheaply.

    • adam

      “When you look at what the Bible says about slaves, much of it is to protect the slave, why?”

      Yes, owning people as property ‘protects them?’

      ” Slaves were released on the 7th year and supplied Deuteronomy 15:12-15. ”

      “And if thy brother, an Hebrew man, or an Hebrew woman, be sold
      unto thee, and serve thee six years; then in the seventh year thou shalt
      let him go free from thee.”

      so ONLY Hebrew SLAVES, others were slaves for life.

      But we understand why you NEED to be deceptive.

    • RichardSRussell

      What’s this BS about the “God-created act of marriage”? Where did you ever get that idea? Marriage is a purely human arrangement between human beings.

      • JBrown971

        That’s off topic and not related to the ability of scripture to interpret scripture.

        • adam

          “the ability of scripture to interpret scripture.”

          I see, you need scripture to interpret the scripture that that scripture couldnt interpret for you…

        • What does it say that they need rules at all? Why doesn’t the Bible just plainly say the right thing? What kind of omniscient being would screw up his precious message so badly?

        • adam

          “What kind of omniscient being would screw up his precious message so badly?” https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8c6298c6c354c989d761beedf9d96b512c23ac8c1020ec38c4013f5441d091df.jpg

        • RichardSRussell

          Maybe, maybe not. But it’s related to the ability of you to interpret scripture.

        • MNb

          If I challenge that ability you whine “off-topic” just as loud ….

    • Dys

      Once again, an apologist dishonestly tries to escape from the fact that biblical slavery was really just indentured servitude, conveniently ignoring the verses that give it away as a blatant lie.

      There were two systems of slavery, one for Hebrews, one for everyone else. Pretending the rules for Hebrew slaves applied to everyone simply shows you don’t understand your own book as well as you think you do.

      Also it is interesting that in the NT, according to Paul we are all slaves. We are either a slave to sin or a slave to Christ.

      Paul said everyone was a metaphorical slave, therefore owning other people as property is okey dokey in God’s eyes? I hope you don’t need an explanation as to why that’s a) immoral and b) incredibly stupid reasoning.

      So asking if God approves of slavery, in the context of African slaves, is a dishonest question

      No, it’s not. It’s a perfectly relevant one, that you’ve utterly failed to address.

    • adam

      …..

  • T-Paine

    If the gods exist, then apologetics wouldn’t be a thing, so apologists should be eternally grateful for their gods not existing that they would make lucrative careers out of it.

    • Len

      1) If gods exist, then apologists wouldn’t exist
      2) Apologists exist.
      3) Therefore, gods do not exist.
      Or maybe
      1) If gods do not exist, then apologists would exist.
      2) Apologists exist.
      3) Therefore gods do not exist.

  • L.Long

    I heard once that the buyBull would be a good book as a study in literature as it is clearly a superior written prose. WTF!!!! pure stupid!!! The buyBull is so poorly written that if written today it would be condemned as pure trash! Clear to explain difficult???? How about it was inspired by gawd…not only an incompetent designer, a worthless father, and a dimwitted moral guide but a piss poor writer as well!!!

    • Greg G.

      Would they teach it in Koine Greek? Even the best English translations often put their theological spin to passages that aren’t exactly clear in the Greek every chance they get.

      • epicurus

        I’ve read that Luther would do that in his German translation as well.

        • Greg G.

          If the original language doesn’t say what you want it to say, it can be fixed in translation.

        • L.Long

          But even worse is that the original is written in backward phrases as well. It could be that the original language also said something like ‘and he KNEW the sheep’ because they also would not use plain language.

        • Michael Neville

          That’s why Muslims hold that only the Quran written in the original Medieval Arabic is authentic. Apparently Mohammad knew that various translations of the Bible were used to promote differing dogmas.

      • TheNuszAbides

        are there many judicious “rankings” of “the best English translations”? i realize various versions are more respectable to sect X than others, but it’s been decades since i’ve glanced at anything other than a [risibly annotated] Nelson or a replica 1611 kjv. (or an Italian translation which i can do no more than pronounce competently.)

        • Greg G.

          I don’t know of any translation that is considered to be perfect. Even if one actually was perfect, it would contradict certain religions who would find fault. I go by the additional explanations and information given in footnotes and cross references while keeping in mind the shortcomings of any translation.

          I usually use the NRSV on BibleGateway.com with the NIV up in parallel with it. I like to do searches on blueletterbible.com along with the LXX, Textus Receptus, and the majority Greek New Testament and concordances to try to work out what I can. Biblehub.com gives several parallel translations of one verse at a time to give a sense of various theological translations.

        • Any translation implies interpretation, I’d imagine.

          I remember reading The man who stayed behind about an American soldier who worked to help the Chinese against the Japanese during WW2 and who remained after the war was over. He eventually worked in a PR/press agency and helped with the translation of Mao’s little red book. Given the differences between Chinese and English, they’d sometimes spend a day haggling over what a single paragraph meant and how to best express that in English.

        • Greg G.

          Do you remember the Chinese movie Hero that starred Jet Li? In some Asian languages, there are no plural and singular forms of words so the title was ambiguous about whether there was one or several heroes in the movie. But they had to choose between a plural and a singular title for English.

          Why do we even have plural forms? The article associated with the noun can indicate one or many. Some words, like fish and deer, don’t even need a different form.

        • In some Asian languages, there are no plural and singular forms of words

          In Mandarin, I believe, there is no future tense.

          From an English standpoint, these can be seen to be deficits. There are artificial languages that prohibit some kinds of ambiguities, but leaving something out can be important. Instead of “Peter threw the ball,” we can say, “The ball was thrown.” Maybe we don’t know or don’t care who the thrower was. Maybe we want to deliberately hide it.

        • Mark Dowd

          Not just tense, but pronouns (at least in Japanese) can lack gender. This leads to many situations intentionally constructed in their literature where some character will be spoken about at length before being introduced, only for it to be discovered that they are not the sex everyone assumed they were. In English, a he or she would have been dropped very early in the conversation, so that kind of gag is pretty impossible to translate.

    • Plenty of people study the Greek myths as literature. What’s wrong with treating the Hebrew myths in the same way? The Bible’s influence on later work would be enough to justify its use in studying literature even if it completely lacked any examples of good writing.

    • TheNuszAbides

      even for those who try to look less like ignoramuses by emphasizing the inspiration (rather than direct, total, omnipotent guidance) of fallible mortal writers, it’s more tragic that MegaDad couldn’t pick better talent for channeling dat Good Ol’ Holy Ghost.

  • Sophia Sadek

    Fundies exclude the Pagan literature that is essential for establishing a context in which to understand the bible. They attempt to substitute the bible itself for this indispensable information, but it will not work. Without context, the bible cannot be deciphered. The fundie method of interpretation leads to a self-confining trap.

    • busterggi

      If you put the bible in context it is shown to be a collection of other people’s myths stolen & cobbled together for a political agenda. Fundies ain’t about to admit that.

      • Sophia Sadek

        I am not so sure that the stories could be said to belong to other people. Abraham was a Chaldean from Mesopotamia. The Assyrian story of the Flood is from the same neighborhood, so it would be appropriate for the descendents of Abraham to include it in their own ethnic lore.

  • SparklingMoon

    If the Bible were the clear message from an omniscient Creator,there would be just one.
    —————————————–
    It is one thing for a scripture to be revealed, and quite another for that book to retain intact its revealed text. No doubt God spoke to the Prophets of the Bible. But external and internal evidence no longer support the view, that the record of the Bible as we possess it today constitutes the word of God as it was first revealed. From the history of Israel we learn that in the time of Nebuchadnezzar the books of Israel were burnt and destroyed.

    The revelation of prophet Moses ”Torah” as it exist today, is not the Torah which was revealed to Moses. For Example we read in Deuteronomy:

    ”(5)So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. (6)And He buried him in the valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor; but no man knows his burial place to this day (Deuteronomy 34:5-6) These verses show clearly that they were composed and added hundreds of years after the time of Moses. It does not stand to reason that God ever addressed Moses, saying, “Nobody knows about your sepulchre unto this day.” Can such words be addressed to a living human being ?Can the words “unto this day” be used in a speech addressed to him ?

    Then further in verse 8 we read: ”And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days: ”so the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended”. This verse also shows that it cannot have been revealed to Moses but is a later addition.

    Then in verse 10 we read: ”And there arose not a Prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face”. This also does not seem to be a revelation of Moses but an invention made after his death and entered in the Book of Moses.

    It is quite clear, therefore, that the Book of Moses had additions made to it after his death and many writers entered in it their own thoughts and speculations. This sort of editing is not confined to the Book of Moses. Other books of the Bible also suffer the same fate.

    In Joshua (24:29) we read:”And it came to pass after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun,the servant of the Lord,died,being an hundred and ten years old”. Similarly in Job (42:17) it is written : “So Job died, being old and full of days.”

    From these quotations it is quite obvious that the book of Joshua was not recorded by Joshua and the book of Job was not recorded by Job. They were instead the compilations of persons who came later, and who compiled these books from what they heard from other people. It is possible also that the Prophets whose teachings are recorded in the Bible collected the word of God as it was received by them, but the records left by them could not endure the ravages of time, and when they became extinct the people who came after wrote them again from their memory, and in doing so entered many of their own thoughts and judgments into them.

    • Dys

      Yep. The fact is that there aren’t any divinely inspired books. The Torah, the New Testament, the Book of Mormon, the Qur’an – they’re not divine messages from any god, they’re just the words of men.

      • SparklingMoon

        The Founders of religions did not possess those powers and accomplishments which ordinarily make successful leadership. They knew little or nothing of the arts or culture of their time. Yet what each of them had revelation and then taught, turned out to be something in advance of his time, something pertinent and seasonable. By adopting this teaching a people attained to a great height in civilization and culture, and retained the glory for many centuries. A true prophet of God Almighty makes this possible.
        Yet it is inconceivable that a person innocent of ordinary accomplishments, as soon as he begins to lie about God, should come to have such tremendous powers that his teaching dominates all other teachings current in his time. Such a development is impossible without the help of a powerful God.

        • Dys

          Such a development is impossible without the help of a powerful God.

          Because you said so? Sorry, but all you’ve got is post hoc rationalizations for what you want to believe. It doesn’t have any relevance to reality.

          There are no divinely inspired texts. There are accounts that amount to historical fiction mixed with mythology, however.

        • Dys

          Such a development is impossible without the help of a powerful God.

          Because you said so? Sorry, but all you’ve got is post hoc rationalizations for what you want to believe. It doesn’t have any relevance to reality.

          There are no divinely inspired texts. There are accounts that amount to historical fiction mixed with mythology, however.

          All you’re doing is using circular reasoning. Replace the Bible with the Qur’an in the graphic, and it’s just as accurate to describe your method. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6542e4aed705086b5815b6aa256e255383e18e3ec105ea5dff749e772e2ae85d.jpg

        • Dunno if you’re aware, but SparklingMoon isn’t really engaging in conversation. Just wholesale copy-pasting.

        • Dys

          Oh yeah, I know…MoonSparkle is also a fan of a fraudulent Islamic messiah that he/she routinely copy/pastes from.

          I’m actually kind of surprised Moonshine hasn’t been banned a while back. Mountains of text with no substance kind of clutters the place up a bit.

        • Greg G.

          SparklingMoon will sometimes respond directly if you ask the right questions, such as topics not at least tangentially addressed by Mirza. Somewhere around here, we are discussing the order of the Surahs and the relationship to their lengths.

        • busterggi

          So are you a Mormon since that ‘revealed’ knowledge became public or have you advanced to Scientology?