The Bible Story Reboots. Have You Noticed?

The Bible Story Reboots. Have You Noticed? April 17, 2018

A reboot is a new release of a story in comic, film, television series, or other form that discards continuity with previous versions to start afresh, unburdened by plot decisions in any previous release.

The Bible is a book whose storyline spans over a thousand years, so perhaps it’s not surprising that it also has reboots.

The Bible, take one (the Noah story)

God creates the world (twice), and then Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit. Their son Cain kills his brother Abel, then there’s a long genealogy ending in Noah. God’s annoyed with how humanity turned out, so he hits the Reset button, and everyone drowns. But don’t be sad—Noah and his ark full of animals weather the storm.

Everyone in the world (by which I mean “eight people”) are once again safe on land. God as Elohim blesses Noah’s family with authority over all living things. He lays down a few rules, and in return he promises, “I establish my covenant with you: never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood” (Genesis 9:11). The rainbow (think: the kind of bow that shoots arrows) will appear in the clouds and remind everyone (God included) of this “everlasting covenant.”

So there you have it, God’s covenant with humanity.

The Bible, take two (Abraham)

But there’s more, as the story trundles along. Noah’s descendants populate the earth, there’s that whole Tower of Babel thing, and then we’re introduced to Abraham. For some unexplained reason, Abraham (né Abram) isn’t already in Israel but lives in Ur, an ancient city on the coast of the Persian Gulf, now in southern Iraq. God (now Yahweh) guides him to Canaan.

God must be forgetful, because he keeps making the same promise to Abraham. The promise is (1) you will have many descendants, (2) you get land, and (3) this covenant is perpetual.

  • In Genesis 12, Yahweh says, “I will make you into a great nation. . . . To your offspring I will give this land” (that is, Canaan).
  • Other stories intervene, and then in Genesis 13, God does it again: “All the land that you see [Canaan] I will give to you and your offspring forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth.”
  • In Genesis 15, guess what God does. He gives Canaan to Abraham. Actually, he gives a lot more than that, listing ten tribes whose land will be the property of Abraham’s descendants. He gives as boundaries the Euphrates River to the east and Egypt to the west.
  • In Genesis 17, God was feeling generous, so he gave Canaan to Abraham. “I will make you very fruitful. . . . I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you.” This is the first time we see Abraham’s contribution to the covenant: he and his male descendants must now be circumcised. (If you’re familiar with the documentary hypothesis, this came from the P source. The previous three were from the J source.)
  • Elohim from the E source is feeling generous, too, so in Genesis 22, he rewards Abraham for (almost) sacrificing Isaac with another gift of Canaan. “I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies.”

God (in his several forms) has stuttered out many bequests of Canaan and promises of many descendants. It was a bit clumsy and contradictory, but we kind of get the message.

The End.

Just kidding. There’s more. This is concluded in part 2.

Science has never killed or persecuted a single person
for doubting or denying its teachings,
and most of these teachings have been true;
but religion has murdered millions
for doubting or denying her dogmas,
and most of these dogmas have been false.
— epitaph of George P. Spencer

.

Image via Randy Jenkins, CC license

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  • Cozmo the Magician

    Has JJ Abrams got into this niche market yet? “What does God need with a StarShip?” “Captain it is likelyl that he will need to sling shot around a sun to travel back in time to give Abel a lightsaber to defend himself. Additionally, I would assume that the water craft he had his follower create could easily be replaced by using a modified point to point transporter system. Its quite logical.”

  • Aloha

    Then comes the BIG re-boot with Jesus, the reboot of the Protestant reformation, and the reboot of Pentecostalism.

    O Lord, send a(nother) revival!

    • Kevin K

      So weird…I have not used the term “re-boot” probably ever in my life, and I used it not two minutes ago, before reading this post or your comments. I must be psychic or physic or something.

      • Aloha

        Maybe it’s a sign … ?

      • Halbe

        Ha! That’s the Holy Spirit working right there! Now you see the NT as 100% historical correct, don’t you? Checkmate athiest!11!1!

  • If it wasn’t for straw man arguments, atheists would have no arguments at all. Thanks for proving that once again.

    • Timothy

      What exactly was the straw man here? Or the argument? The post was talking about repetition in the bible.

      • You can start, as the piece’s author did, with the old “two creation stories” business, laughably backed up with simple-minded, childish thinking, reasoning, and understanding. (Tip: the Bible wasn’t written in English, either old or modern.) And the straw man arguments go on from there.

        • Rubicon

          Yeah, quoting the source material is strawmanning. Got it.

        • Thanks for commenting, but a drive-by doesn’t help. “This argument sux!!” doesn’t tell us anything. You need to show the specifics of the errors. Otherwise, I have no choice but to dismiss your complaint.

        • Kit Hadley-Day

          So are there, or are there not two versions of creation in Genesis? and you still need to identify a single piece of straw, claiming it’s there and proving it’s there are not the same thing

        • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

          Are you claiming the two creations stories only showed up when the Bible was translated to English? That the translators were THAT incompetent?

        • Brad Feaker

          So you deny that their are 2 creation stories in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2? And what difference does the original language (Hebrew) make? I see your ‘straw man’ and raise you one ‘special pleading’.

        • Jim Jones

          Donald Trump? Is that you? Reversing the meanings of words again?

    • mfm420

      If it wasn’t for straw man arguments, christians would have no arguments at all.

      fixed it for you

    • Halbe

      You’re using words you obviously don’t understand. Look up the real meaning of ‘straw man’, ‘argument’ and ‘prove’, and then come back to us with something that might resemble a coherent rebuttal of the OP.

    • Strawman

      “… straw man arguments …”

      You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? Then who the hell else are you talking… you talking to me?*

      *Courtesy Travis Bickle, “Taxi Driver”

    • RichardSRussell

      If you aspire to a career in law or logic, you should really look up the difference between “proof” and “evidence”.

    • Joe

      If it wasn’t for vague, baseless, sweeping generalizations, you wouldn’t have a post.

  • Carstonio

    My somewhat-answer to the documentary hypothesis is the example of ancient Greek mythology. The stories of gods and heroes changed based on the storyteller and the era, and we have several written sources for the myths. By contrast, the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) was cobbled together during the Babylonian captivity with the goal of preserving the Jewish culture and religion, and the text strongly suggests different, sometimes contradictory oral and written traditions as the sources. If the history of the ancient Israelites and Jews had had been very different, with no conquests by the Assyrians and Babylonians and no diaspora, how much more would be known about the stories? Certainly most Christians seem not to know about the similarities with other religions in the region or about Jewish folklore outside the Hebrew Bible.

  • Ficino

    Why are trolls so enamored of the adverb, “laughably”? Why do they usually (not always) content themselves with one- or two-sentence assertions?

    Is it because they are trolls?

    .

    • Kevin K

      Rhetorical question is rhetorical.

    • If you’re thinking of Jay McHue, I’m sure you have him wrong. I’m sure that his drive-by was just an oversight or perhaps motivated by a hectic schedule. He’ll give us a thoughtful on-target critique any moment now.

      Right …?

      • Phil

        His comment is gone but he was right in one respect when he mentioned “childish thinking”. A child could indeed see the flaws in the stories. Some adults could learn from them.

  • Kevin K

    When I slogged through the bible, I came to the conclusion very early on that what the entire enterprise needed most was a good book editor.

    There are continuity issues galore, lots and lots of direct contradictions, characters that appear and disappear without so much as a “how do you do”, and repetition after repetition after repetition, followed by some repetition.

    It was hard to follow the story arc because of all the repetitive fluff. You could probably cut fully 1/3 of the bible out if you just decided to get rid of the repetitions (and 3/4ths of the “gospels” — why do you need more than 1?).

    • Greg G.

      You could probably cut fully 1/3 of the bible out if you just decided to get rid of the repetitions (and 3/4ths of the “gospels” — why do you need more than 1?).

      Why do we need four corners of the earth? Isn’t one corner enough? Why do we need four winds?

      Checkmate, afourist!

      • Kevin K

        Magic numbers are magic!!

        • Carol Lynn

          Four is a magic number? Is every number ever mentioned in a text now a ‘magic one’?

        • Greg G.

          I was reading a discussion about the number of nails used to attach Jesus to the cross. Was it three or four? The guy who argued four had better reasons for practical purposes. But I recall a sermon where the three nails were associated with the Trinity.

          “Hey, Jesus, can you cross your feet? We only have one nail left.”

        • Michael Neville

          Of course four is a magic number. As Dr. Gene Ray explains in Time Cube [LINK]:

          When the Sun shines upon Earth, 2 – major Time points are created on opposite sides of Earth – known as Midday and Midnight. Where the 2 major Time forces join, synergy creates 2 new minor Time points we recognize as Sunup and Sundown. The 4-equidistant Time points can be considered as Time Square imprinted upon the circle of Earth. In a single rotation of the Earth sphere, each Time corner point rotates through the other 3-corner Time points, thus creating 16 corners, 96 hours and 4-simultaneous 24-hour Days within a single rotation of Earth – equated to a Higher Order of Life Time Cube.

          The “wisest man on Earth” said it, it must be true.

        • Carol Lynn

          Oh dear…. that’s one of the funniest things I’ve read this week. Deepities for the win!

        • “One is the loneliest number”

          — Three Dog Night

        • Greg G.

          Three Dog Night is a crowd.

        • Kodie

          Maybe it’s just one dog with 3 heads.

        • Greg G.

          Cerberus, the guard of the Underworld.

        • Kevin K

          Pretty much if they’re used as a reason for thus-and-such. Why four gospels? Because four corners of the earth and four winds. MAGIC!

      • epicurus

        What’s that whirring sound? Must be Irenaeus spinning in his grave.

      • Kodie
    • RichardSRussell

      You need more than one so you can show how faith allows you to overlook or ignore blatant contradictions between them. Geez, get a clue, dude!

    • Jim Jones

      If the bible or the gospels were clear and precise you couldn’t invent Republican Jesus.

    • The Quran has similar problems with duplication (and also the non-chronological ordering of the chapters). There’s a “2-hour Koran” online that claims to distill it down such that redundancy is eliminated, as is any claim that is abrogated (overruled by a later contradictory claim).

      Who’s up for writing the 2-hour Bible?

      • Kevin K

        Of course, Jefferson edited the New Testament to get rid of all the woo woo magic mumbo-jumbo. I think he came up with a page and a half.

        • He substituted his own terrible elsewhere:

              Later Jefferson wrote even more extravagantly to William Short, his private secretary, about the execution of Louis XVI (“the expunging of that officer”). The logic of his words has rightly been described as closer to Stalin, Mao Tse-tung and Pol Pot than to Washington, Hamilton and Burke.

          The liberty of the whole earth was depending on the issue of the contest, and was ever such a prize won with so little innocent blood? My own affections have been deeply wounded by some of the martyrs to this cause, but rather than it should have failed, I would have seen half the earth desolated. Were there but an Adam and an Eve left in every country, and left free, it would be better than as it is now. (The Long Affair, 147)

          (A Free People’s Suicide, KL 766–72)

          I prefer the terrible to be in the Bible for us to learn not to want or do, than the above.

      • Phil

        I can distill it down to 2 seconds “Don’t be a dick”

        • That’s good advice, but that sounds more like Phil’s Bible. The regular one is pretty dickish.

        • Phil

          The thing is, everything else that can be considered moral behaviour stems from that. Should be the only thing preached from the pulpit. I am sure nobody would object to it being on bank notes and displayed outside courtrooms, said at school assemblies, even before football matches and council meetings.

        • Greg G.

          That is what Paul says in Galatians 5:14, that “Love your neighbor” (Leviticus 19:18) fulfills the whole law.

          James 2:8-11 disputes that by saying it is a good start but if you break one part of the law, you break the whole law. If you don’t follow the whole law, you will be murdering and adulterating.

          Paul responds to James in Romans 13:8-10 by pointing out that if you love someone, you are not going to murder them, commit adultery, steal from them, or covet their possessions. “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.”

          Paul channels Rabbi Hillel with the Leviticus 19:18 quote being able to fulfill the whole law. Hillel was a first century BC rabbi who was known for his ability to recite the Torah. One day he was in a hurry when somebody challenged him to recite the Torah while standing on one foot. He stood on one foot and said, “Don’t do what your neighbor hates. All the rest is commentary. Go and study.”

          But Paul was kind of a dick two verses earlier in Galatians when he wished the circumcision faction would go the whole way and castrate themselves.

        • Phil

          Why “go and study”? I don’t need a collection of ancient plagiarised stories to come to this obvious conclusion. I did it on my own as anyone with half a brain can.

        • TheNuszAbides

          “fulfills the whole law.” but when does anyone (even a nation’s judicial system) grasp The Entire Law? it’s as nebulous as “the Bible as a whole” … or Superlunar Jesus, for that matter.

    • Kodie

      I find the bible reads like a toddler trying to tell you what happened, or someone trying to recall their dream when they wake up.

  • RichardSRussell

    Really nice use of color coding to point out the 3 different (false) promises in their various incarnations.

    • In kindergarten, I got a gold star for coloring once. I think it’s a gift.

      • RichardSRussell

        Praise Jesus!

      • Giauz Ragnarock

        Hah… I wish I still drew. My videogame, Marvel comics, and STARWARS-inspired drawings used cover my middle and high school agendas’ unused pages. Memories… 🙁

  • sandy

    We can understand all the duplication and repetition when we look at who wrote the bible and how it came to be. Steve Ebling puts this into perspective in the Preface of his book ” Holy Bible, best god damned version, books of Moses”, ” The first four books in the Bible consist of writings from three original Hebrew source documents dating from between 900 BC and 500 BC, that were “cut up” around 450 BC and “pasted” into the irrational mess of duplicated stories, contradictions, lunacies, and impossibilities that, when ended with a fourth source document, the book of Deuteronomy, became the Jewish Bible (Torah) and Christian Pentateuch or the “Five Books of Moses.”
    Each of the four sources has its own distinct conception of God, theology, language and political intent. They are all based on common oral and written traditions, so many stories are duplicated. Chapters one and two of Genesis, for instance, offer contradicting “Creation Stories,” there are two versions of “Noah and the flood,” three versions of the Ten Commandments, among many others.”

    As Kevin says below, the Bible needed a good editor and obviously was man made.

    • RichardSRussell

      As Kevin says below, the Bible needed a good editor

      But, as Shakespeare said, “First thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers and editors.”—Henry 6th Part 2

      • sandy

        That’s funny.

      • Kevin K

        Ha!

    • I’m just finishing the “Best goddamned version” of the Bible. It makes a handy summary.

  • Jim Jones

    The bible is a book (or collection) which is bad enough so you can see what you wish in it.

    See: pareidolia and apophenia.

    (The term was coined by German neurologist and psychiatrist Klaus Conrad (1905-1961). Conrad focused on the finding of abnormal meaning or significance in random experiences by psychotic people.)

  • Bob Jase

    I hate retconning in the bible almost as much as I hate it in the Marbel Universe.

  • I always wonder how the inerrantists can read the bible and still support the concept of inerrancy. Even a person with middle school reading skills can see the contradictions and the repetitions. But, I guess most Christians don’t read it or just follow the devotional method where certain choice verses are selected for them.

    • Greg G.

      Middle school? I read just yesterday that there is a version of the NIV that is written for the third grade reading level.

      It is amazing how many people believe the Bible is the Word of God but have no interest in reading what he has to say.

      • Ignorant Amos

        Just about everyone taking Ehrman’s bible study classes, though they are all up to speed on Dan Brown…if his anecdote is accurate and in my experience, there’s no reason to doubt him.

        I have the “Bible for Kids” app on my IPhone…

        https://www.bible.com/en-GB/kids

        …along side “Olive Tree Bible” app for easy reference…

        https://www.olivetree.com/

        …those raise some eyebrows when am relaying a particularly nasty tale and am not believed. See, here is what you were told in Sunday school, but if you bothered to read the bloody thing, you’d see that this is what it actually says.

    • They get an A for effort when it comes to patching over embarrassing contradictions and errors, but that earns them an F for honesty.

  • eric

    The repetition could possibly be related to it’s origin in oral storytelling. Audience intolerance (at least in many cases, but not all) with long stories is a relatively recent thing, probably related to the rise of TV, movies, and now the internet. A 3-hr story or even a 15-hr story told over many nights might have been considered better than the same information content stripped down to a 30 minute story. After the 30-minute version, what do you do around the campfire for the rest of the week? And if you’re an itinerant historian/storyteller, what’s going to pay more/get more in gifts, food, etc. – the 30-minute version, or the 5-night, 15-hr extravaganza? The Odyssey also has filler, probably for that same reason.

    And like Bob says, other literature and stories have plenty of reboots. It’s not that hard to understand the motivation behind a big, repetitive set of stories when a mere few years ago Peter Jackson turned a 70-page battle into a 144 minute movie. At 2 minutes of movie time spent for every page of the actual battle, you could literally read that entire section of The Hobbit in less time than it would take you to watch the third movie. And let’s not forget the Star Wars Franchise – with #7 largely repeating the plot of the original, and 3 of 8 of the movies using the same ‘blow up the death star’ plot. The 8th apes Empire’s battle for Hoth, too. If the ninth movie has a forest planet containing Ewoks, J.J. Abrams will have gotten a trifecta in plaigerism. So it’s no real shock to me that a massive collection of originally oral cultural stories would have a lot of technically unnecessary repetition. That just shows its humanness.

    • Otto

      You’d think they could have fixed more in post.

    • Kodie

      The parts of the bible I’ve read don’t read as a sweeping epic tale that would captivate its audience. There’s a way to tell a story using meandering colorful details and then there’s just useless rambling and forgetting what the point of the story was supposed to be.

      • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

        Can just imagine people sitting around captivated listening.
        “And then, this is the good part, then Ahab begat Boab!”

        • RichardSRussell

          Well, it would be interesting if you were the 1st-born son of Boab and wanted to get your hands on the loot he’d inherited from Ahab. And who got to determine whether something was important and deserved to be written down for posterity? The powerful, literate, older males in a thoroly patriarchal society. All those “begats” were very important to prove who owned whom. If you ever encountered the novel or TV series Roots, with its tale of Alex Haley going to his ancestral homeland in Africa and listening to a griot reciting, from memory, the various lineages of his tribe, until Alex finally ran across Kunta Kinte, you’ll know that this wasn’t the exclusive obsession of the Hebrews.

        • Kodie

          I wasn’t really referring to the begats, either. There were so many generations from one story in the bible to another, and in between, all those begats, because they are related, but none of them did anything “interesting” enough to be included, that’s what I get out of the begats. Someone posted a chapter name the other day and I looked into it, and it was so boring. I forgot what it was, but it’s generally like that for me.

          They went out and they went in again, and were there for a while and went out again, it was night time, it was dark because the night had come, so they went back in again. They tried to go out again. Later, when it was still dark, they went out again. When it was too dark to see, they went back in. When they were in, they wanted to go out again. Getting a lamp, they went out again. It was night and dark and they had a lamp. They brought a lamp even as the light was shining in the sky.

          That’s what the bible sounds like to me.

        • RichardSRussell

          That’s what it sounds like to me, too. The only people who got really excited by stuff like that were the ones it actually happened to, and they’ve been dead for millennia. But their curse lives on, now encrusted with tradition and reverence, mainly because it’s old and at one time meant something to somebody (we’re a little vague about who).

        • Greg G.

          They will tell you that it is so much more poetic in the Hebrew language. I bet it would be even more poetic in the original Babylonian.

        • Michael Neville

          And it was orgasmically poetic in the original Paleo-Indo-European.

        • Kodie

          I don’t know why the whole bible can’t be made into Broadway musicals. I enjoy the bible in that format.

        • Greg G.

          The begats could be art films. That’s what some of my college buddies called their porn collection.

        • Kodie

          They called them begats or art films?

        • Greg G.

          Art films, but begets would be a good euphemism, too.

        • Kodie

          I can’t describe how grossed out I feel right about now.

        • Greg G.

          Is it too late to apologize?

        • Oh, yeah. I love that bit, too.

      • Good observation: stories do make more of a point than history. History can be awfully confusing and repetitive and it’s so tempting to reduce it to a single coherent narrative. I just encountered that in a philosophy of biology study group last night; we went over Sterner & Lidgard 2018 Moving Past the Systematics Wars, which criticizes a simplistic account of history which is as distorting as it is pretty. But hey, let’s just say that they were writing stories 2500 years ago and were simply bad at it.

        • Kodie

          I’m no one to say much about ancient lore, but it’s my understanding that there was no impediment to quality of entertaining storytelling, going way back. I think people think the bible is real because who would think fiction could be told so boring and yet endure so long.

        • I likewise think there was no such impediment—they might even have been better at it back then than we are today. So either those who wrote and redacted the OT sucked, or they weren’t trying to write a good story. You seem reticent to believe the latter and I can’t see any good reasons for that reticence other than a predetermined conclusion.

        • Kodie

          I don’t really care what you think about, Luke.

        • Would you prefer to say more about what you think? I’m happy to listen to that and ask probing questions. I dunno about you, but I find that people who are not like me are much better at finding problems in my thinking than those who are like me.

        • Kodie

          No, I already said all I know about the subject, and I don’t want to have to bleed at the eyes trying to read through your responses.

        • So … the Jews in Babylon just sucked at writing a story, but writing a story with a clear point was their goal, in your opinion? (Did that question cause bleeding?)

        • Ignorant Amos

          They weren’t writing very much original…lots of plagiarism…but the made up shit is as entertaining as any fiction once it is read in the understanding that that is what it is. I like a good biblical epic as much as the next person. The first movie I seen in the cinema was “The Ten Commandments” with Charlton Heston. It was made before I was born, but it was showing again in the cinema…I must’ve been no older than 6 at the time. I’ve watched it many times since and it still entertains.

        • Curious; your opinion of the quality differs radically from @disqus_0FsPDLqpUy:disqus’s. BTW, they filmed the frog seen but it was comical instead of scary so they left it out.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Curious; your opinion of the quality differs radically from Kodie’s.

          I’ve no idea why it should be curious. And what do you mean by quality? I said I like watching it…mostly to observe the amount of artistic licence taken with the texts…did ya watch “Noah”? I didn’t watch the Transformers movie and thought “hey, the quality of the English those things manage makes the nonsense very realistic”.

          Kodie hasn’t read it all. And fortunately for her, she was never childhood indoctrinated into any religious woo-woo. The bit’s she has read are from the position of the DA I’m assuming. From the angle of “do people really believe this shite?”. Compared to other stuff it isn’t all that by comparison.

          I read it from the point of view that it is fiction…when I watch a movie from the Bible, I do the same. So it is entertaining from that perspective. I don’t watch science fiction and believe it is real. Take away all the stuff that is boring and there is quite a bit of entertainment in the bible.

          There’s a quote in The God Delusion that Dawkins takes from a letter written by Evelyn Waugh regarding a bet they made with Randolph Churchill in the trenches during the war…

          “In the hope of keeping him quiet for a few hours Freddy & I have bet Randolph [Churchill, son of Winston] 20 pounds that he cannot read the whole Bible in a fortnight. It would have been worth it at the price. Unhappily it has not had the result we hoped. He has never read any of it before and is hideously excited; keeps reading quotations aloud ‘I say, I bet you didn’t know this came in the Bible “bring down my grey hairs in sorrow to the grave”‘ or merely slapping his side & chortling ‘God, isn’t God a shit!’ ~Extract, letter from Evelyn Waugh to Nancy Mitford, 12 November 1944

          https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/books/first/m/mosley-letters.html

          Also, Kodie’s idea of entertainment is very likely wildly different from mine. I’ll be spending tomorrow afternoon in a sports club watching football(soccer) and getting falling down drunk. I can’t imagine that being Kodie’s forte at all.

          BTW, they filmed the frog seen but it was comical instead of scary so they left it out.

          You think that there is nothing comical about “The Ten Commandments” as it was cut? Granted, as a child not knowing any better, it was awesome, but not now.

        • I’ve no idea why it should be curious.

          To the extent that there is no rational basis for judgment of quality of story, statements of low quality (example) are nigh meaningless in rational discourse.

          And what do you mean by quality?

          See Kodie’s comment. She and you used “epic”, but it would appear that you meant a non-textual version:

          I said I like watching it…mostly to observe the amount of artistic licence taken with the texts…did ya watch “Noah”?

          No, but I did watch the terrible Exodus: Gods and Kings.

          I read it from the point of view that it is fiction…when I watch a movie from the Bible, I do the same. So it is entertaining from that perspective.

          Ahh, I see. When I observe the terrible that humans are doing to each other even after so much “progress”, I see the OT more as chock-full of characterizations about the ick of human nature which we Enlightened folk desperately try to deny and obscure. My favorite in modern Western fiction is how the good guys always manage to just barely out-power the bad guys, usually with some help from Lady Luck. The idea which is inculcated, of course, is that power is good, if it is wielded by the good guys. I can see how the OT contesting that might make one want to firmly plant it in the realm of fiction.

          Also, Kodie’s idea of entertainment is very likely wildly different from mine.

          That’s fine; one way I like to endorse variety is to say that I’m quite confident that one of me is plenty for the world.

          You think that there is nothing comical about “The Ten Commandments” as it was cut? Granted, as a child not knowing any better, it was awesome, but not now.

          I only saw it as a child. Thinking more on this, it irritates me that YHWH always had to be presented as fearfully awesome. I wonder if the frog plague was intended to be hilarious. I’m too lazy to search for Jewish sources on this one; someone please make the semantic web work so I can search for Jewish interpretation of the Tanakh and YHWH being funny.

        • Ignorant Amos

          To the extent that there is no rational basis for judgment of quality of story, statements of low quality (example) are nigh meaningless in rational discourse.

          Quality is subjective though. For example, the movie “Noah” got 5.8 out of 10 on IMDB, while “Exodus” got 6 out of 10…on the other hand, “Exodus” got 28% on Dirty Rotten Tomatoes, while “Noah” got 78%…I enjoyed both movies. Why did you think “Exodus” was terrible? Surely not the story?

          There are stories in the bible that are entertaining…but comparing quality against some other fiction, they suck. As an example, I enjoyed Exodus, but not as much as “Troy”, and “Troy”, not as much as “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Some of the Star Wars movies are quality, some are not, but they all entertained me. All are fiction.

          See Kodie’s comment. She and you used “epic”, but it would appear that you meant a non-textual version:

          I’m not sure what difference it really makes. Whether textual or on screen. The source material is the same. Now I know that Christians have taken exception to the artistic licence that Hollywood took with the Epic of Gilgamesh…a mean “Noah”…I got banhammered off “Charismanews” for pointing out that the story is already plagiarised and bastardised in Genesis.

          https://www.charismanews.com/opinion/43454-seven-of-the-worst-mistakes-in-the-movie-noah

          Seems like comments are closed now.

          My daughter tells me the Harry Potter series of books is far better than the movies. She’s lost count of the number of times she has read the books and watched the films. But she still finds the movies entertaining.

          I’ve read the Genesis account of Noah, and seen the movie…while they are somewhat different, what does that matter if they both entertain…they are both stories of fiction?

          Ahh, I see. When I observe the terrible that humans are doing to each other even after so much “progress”, I see the OT more as chock-full of characterizations about the ick of human nature which we Enlightened folk desperately try to deny and obscure. My favorite in modern Western fiction is how the good guys always manage to just barely out-power the bad guys, usually with some help from Lady Luck. The idea which is inculcated, of course, is that power is good, if it is wielded by the good guysI can see how the OT contesting that might make one want to firmly plant it in the realm of fiction.

          It wouldn’t matter, because the good don’t always win. And power is not always good. We have been over this OT contesting power is good position of yours. In the OT, YahwehJesus is the most powerful being in existence, there is none more powerful.

          In the bible stories, it is by the power of God that the “good” guys win…just like in the movies.

          “Your right hand, O LORD, is majestic in power, Your right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy.” Exodus 15:6

          The whole point of God hardening the pharaoh’s heart is to show off his power…not that it was all that convincing so that when the chips were down in the desert, there was a pile of backsliders. I don’t know about you, but if I’d actually witnessed the things done at Gods hand in Exodus, it would need to take some convincing to worship a different god whose power was just talk.

          I only saw it as a child. Thinking more on this, it irritates me that YHWH always had to be presented as fearfully awesome.

          But that’s how they rolled at the time. Yahweh is a promoted war god don’t forget. He had to be able to kick ass in order to keep the minions in check. The story isn’t for this time. That’s why it is so problematic and the nasty stuff needs reinterpreted in apologetics.

          I wonder if the frog plague was intended to be hilarious.

          I doubt it. The place must’ve been minging. tramping through frogs under feet. Apparently frog plagues were not all that rare pharaoh’s could whistle one up, they just could get rid of them.

          I’m too lazy to search for Jewish sources on this one; someone please make the semantic web work so I can search for Jewish interpretation of the Tanakh and YHWH being funny.

          A quick Google found this…

          Moses believed in One God. The Egyptians had multiple deities. The frog was considered the theophany of the goddess Heqt, the wife of the creator of the world and the goddess of birth. Heqt was always shown with the head and body of a frog. Egyptian women wore Amulets and scarabs with the image of Heqt to protect them during childbirth. Frogs were so sacred in Egypt that even the involuntary slaughter of one was often punishable by death. And now, Pharaoh had to recognize the fact that the frog avalanche was not a natural occurrence, and thus recognize the existence of the almighty God. The God of Israel.

          http://www.mazornet.com/holidays/passover/plagues/frogs.htm

          As for Yahweh being funny, well the character followed by those of the Abrahamic faiths, if it existed, certainly has to have a sick sense of humour.

        • LB: To the extent that there is no rational basis for judgment of quality of story, statements of low quality (example) are nigh meaningless in rational discourse.

          IA: Quality is subjective though.

          Yes, I know that’s the dogma. I might even believe it, with a caveat. I’ve written software for almost 25 years now and have done serious software architecture and engineering for 10. I can distinguish higher quality from lower quality software and while I can provide some concrete metrics, a lot of that judgment is of a more integrated, holistic nature. What this judgment of quality really indicates is how much could be built on top of the thing being judged. The judgment of quality is actually a prediction. Predictions can be tested.

          Now, if you’re not trying to build anything on top of what is being judged (or help others build something via celebrating the best currently known building materials), then your judgment is not going to have any tether to reality except others’ judgments, with a positive sign (in-group) or negative sign (out-group). See for example What musical taste tells us about social class. I doubt the individual builds very much of the judgment structure, just like the scientist does very little to advance on what was done before. (I don’t mean to demean either, but instead to accurately distinguish between the individual’s contribution and the millions of contributions from others [s]he is building upon.)

          In either case, it’s not really 100% subjective. But if your purpose is solely to stimulate pleasure neurons, there may well be no correlation to much of any reality as is described by any science (except that which studies what produces pleasure—crack cocaine included). But then the measurement of quality won’t have any correlation with historicity or anything else—like an attempt to expose the ugliness of human nature and social nature. Which is what I meant by the bit I quoted of myself ^^.

          There are stories in the bible that are entertaining…but comparing quality against some other fiction, they suck.

          Yep, and if it’s just that you like modern stories better than ancient ones, that’d be one thing. On the other hand, I just watched the Star Trek VOY episode 11:59 last night and a bookstore owner in it claimed that the best authors wrote in classical times (they didn’t do cold beer, tho). If you actually think that the ancients could write good fiction, there arises a question of why the ancient Jews propagated bad fiction, at great cost to themselves. One possibility is that they weren’t actually trying to “entertain”. But that just doesn’t seem to be a live option in this discussion—with you or Kodie.

          Now I know that Christians have taken exception to the artistic licence that Hollywood took with the Epic of Gilgamesh…a mean “Noah”…I got banhammered off “Charismanews” for pointing out that the story is already plagiarised and bastardised in Genesis.

          If Genesis 1–3 were not so similar to what the ancient Hebrews already knew (e.g. Enûma Eliš), could they have even understood it? On the other hand, humans being created in the image of God instead of as slaves to the gods seems like a rather important difference. So does the flood happening because people were evil rather than noisy (Gilgamesh). Presenting something that looks almost the same is a great way to emphasize what is different. Sadly, I suspect many Christians don’t want people to really internalize imago Dei. That is inherently destabilizing to power.

          My daughter tells me the Harry Potter series of books is far better than the movies.

          She’s right. In the sense of the “higher quality” in my first paragraph.

          The whole point of God hardening the pharaoh’s heart is to show off his power…not that it was all that convincing so that when the chips were down in the desert, there was a pile of backsliders. I don’t know about you, but if I’d actually witnessed the things done at Gods hand in Exodus, it would need to take some convincing to worship a different god whose power was just talk.

          I think the shockingly little belief that came from the demonstration of awesome power is the point. I wouldn’t be so confident as you are in how I would act; I think the same kind of confidence led many people who thought they were smart and wise to fail to anticipate the Great War and then fail to anticipate World War II. I imagine many soldiers-in-training tell themselves they would never urinate themselves during their first real combat. We tell ourselves all kinds of stories to feel good about ourselves.

          Yahweh is a promoted war god don’t forget.

          Those in war-torn parts of the world in the 21st century might not see any need to reinterpret this. Humans who haven’t personally experienced heinous evil perpetrated by warring humans ought to be very careful how they speak about such matters.

        • Kodie

          This is the eye-bleeding picayune nonsense I was talking about that I don’t want to talk about more. You agree the bible is boring? You assert that the bible isn’t meant to be interesting or entertaining? I would say that people were telling these stories for a long time before they were written that may have been more interesting, depending on who is telling, than when it was congealed as a book. You keep using the word “write” like it’s always been a thing. I am making a distinction between the, I guess, stories, and the writing quality.

        • This is the eye-bleeding picayune nonsense I was talking about that I don’t want to talk about more.

          It wasn’t written for you. IA has a lot more tolerance for extended discussion than you.

          You agree the bible is boring?

          Mostly, no. (Some genealogies are still boring to me.) I think real life is fucking complex, and that the Bible doesn’t shield us from this—unlike fairy tales and other “good stories”. That complexity is daunting until one finds ways of penetrating it.

          You assert that the bible isn’t meant to be interesting or entertaining?

          I think there’s a good chance that much of the Bible isn’t meant to be entertaining. I haven’t found a single part that some human hasn’t found interesting; I don’t see why every single human has to find every single part interesting. Two extended treatments of interesting (IMO) are:

               • Yoram Hazony’s The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture
               • Joshua A. Berman’s Created Equal: How the Bible Broke with Ancient Political Thought

          This is the kind of stuff that empowers the little guy. But to empower the little guy, you have to provide more than Grimm’s Fairy Tales. And you cannot maximize entertainment at all times or the little guy will be constitutionally incapable of dealing with boring.

          I would say that people were telling these stories for a long time before they were written that may have been more interesting, depending on who is telling, than when it was congealed as a book. You keep using the word “write” like it’s always been a thing. I am making a distinction between the, I guess, stories, and the writing quality.

          Heh, my wife and I were just talking yesterday about how old the oral history must have been. But I still don’t think your point stands: writing materials were expensive back then; why include a bunch of useless repetition? And do we really think the writers were so terrible in comparison to the storytellers? That doesn’t make sense to me.

        • Kodie

          I really can’t tell you what kind of stories ancient people found entertaining. It may have sounded all the more poetic in original language. It might have been sung. I am thinking probably one of the most popular remakes of any story might be A Christmas Carol, and why? I can’t remember who it was (probably not here) that said they hate Dickens. They hate the dickens out of Dickens. Disclaimer, I’ve never read the book.

          Movies set off of a book often have to pace differently, leave stuff out, or make composite characters. Surely, you have seen a few versions of this story done on tv or in the movies that were not even trying to directly depict Dickens’ book, and some were done in less than half an hour. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adaptations_of_A_Christmas_Carol

          I’m using this as an example, because I still think, for the most part, these versions stick to the plot pretty well. My idea is that all the stories in the bible were told tons of times and probably tons of different ways until it came time to write it down. The basic plots were not really altered in each telling because the conclusion has to be what it was, but it’s sort of backwards, as something may have even been presented more like a play, with different people acting out the stories, does anyone really know? (I find it curious that the stories remain but the culture bit may have been missed). Writing these stories to make sure the progression is still intact and the conclusion (or moral) is reached required retreading lines that were already told. Someone mentioned the telling stories more like a miniseries, so you have to review the highlights from the previous day’s chapter.

          What comes out is dull as fuck to me and unreadable. That’s why nobody reads it, and they go to church to get caught up and fed the gist of what the story is about. Now on to the idea that every church decides for its audience which parts of the bible they need to focus on, and explain their preferred interpretation, so they’re never getting the whole thing anyway, or necessarily an honest reading of the parts they do get to learn about.

        • Kodie

          I don’t know why this is difficult. Of course the stories of the bible can be presented as interesting by being turned into a play or a movie. Being swallowed and living inside the belly of a whale and shit? Etcetera. I’m talking about the text itself is a tedious slog. It’s also fiction.

        • I’m just saying that maybe if the writers had wanted to make what you think of as “a good story”, that they could have. Supposing this very reasonable thing, the conclusion would be that they weren’t trying to do what you think they were trying to do. I don’t know why that is difficult [for you].

        • Kodie

          I don’t know why they didn’t think it was important. I am thinking about some documentaries I have tried to watch. Documentaries sure can be engaging and entertaining as well as educational and historically accurate, but you know what I’m talking about, don’t you? It’s like they tried to make it dull on purpose so people would think it was historical and not fiction.

        • Why impute a motive to deceive? That’s pretty harsh. I generally try pretty hard to ensure there isn’t a better explanation than deception. I get that this is a cynical age, but there seems to be a line that if you cross, you become an enemy of civilization.

        • Kodie

          I don’t know what their motive was or why it reads so dull. I am free to make idle speculations, am I not?

        • Your “idle speculation” of “tried to make it dull on purpose so people would think it was historical and not fiction” was 100% “impute a motive to deceive”. If that’s how you want to roll—suppose deception without testing out whether less-terrible explanations might do the trick—then ok.

        • Kodie

          I told you several posts ago that I had said all I wanted to say about it. You’re the one trying to pick a fight over nothing.

        • Suggesting that someone is plausibly being deceptive is picking a fight. But nice try. 😀

        • Kodie

          Oh, like you did with Michael Neville? Who am I picking a fight with, you or god?

        • Oh, like you did with Michael Neville?

          I actually did mean to pick a bit of a fight; he was using language generally associated with absolute morality, while claiming to mean relative/​subjective morality. I asked why he would “speak deceptively”, but I really meant that before I asked the question the misleading could be unintentional, while after I asked the question the misleading would necessarily become intentional—if he continued to use absolute morality language while meaning relative/​subjective morality.

          Who am I picking a fight with, you or god?

          Me. (That’s a weird question.)

        • Kodie

          A. Your perception of MN’s dishonesty doesn’t reflect anything he actually said, and more a fight within your own mind.

          B. I was just checking what kind of lunatic I was working with.

        • I will disagree with A. but not bork up a live thread with the details. You can go resurrect a dead one somewhere and point me to it if you insist. 😀

        • Ignorant Amos

          But the bible authors are being deceitful.

          Plagiarism is stealing.

          http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/page/bible-contradictions

          Making false claims and passing them off as factual is lying, even if you think they are not. I used to teach my kids that it is better to admit ignorance than to make shite up, because when it turns out that the made up nonsense is recognised as nonsense, they’ll really look stupid and when it comes to a time when they need believed, they won’t be.

          Forgery is lying.

          https://santitafarella.wordpress.com/2011/03/30/bart-ehrman-liars-wrote-parts-of-the-bible/

          The Exodus story is fiction written as history…which is lying.

          This whole story is a fairy tale. The fact is, the story of Exodus is one big lie. And if this well-known Bible story is a lie, then, really how truthful is any aspect of the Bible?

          The Bible is a dishonest book, period.

          http://www.beggarscanbechoosers.com/2014/12/exodus-story-reveals-bibles-dishonesty.html

        • Kodie

          I just watched the PBS episode of POV about Bill Nye, and science fiction did seem to apply a bunch while watching the parts with Ken “it’s simply not true” Ham.

          I don’t know if you could get this in your country: http://www.pbs.org/pov/billnyescienceguy/

          As for soccer, I find it curious in the US that soccer is HUGE for kids of all ages, and pretty much the only popular school/PE/league sport that is for boys and girls (aside from maybe track and swimming, which aren’t actually that major everywhere) without being unusual (like a boy playing volleyball or a girl signing up for hockey), but not at all popular in pros, and people become suddenly fanatical about certain sports when they are highlighted in the media, i.e. Americans go crazy for soccer at World Cup time, but not otherwise. Nobody’s following it during the year, nobody’s looking to watch matches on whatever device they can watch soccer, but the hype makes it a thing very briefly. Same thing with Olympic sports… even though on Saturdays or Sundays, you can catch some niche sports on network tv, and people have millions of cable channels to find any of that shit any time they want, probably. I could go for the falling down drunk part though.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I seem to be able to get it, I’ll watch it later…pushed for time as I have to be out for 12:00.

          Supporting a football team is ingrained for a lot of folk here. As the late great Bill Shankly once said…

          “Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it’s much more serious than that.”

          But I know what ya mean. I’m guilty as charged with other sports. The latest example is the fight last night here in Belfast. Carl “The Jackal” Frampton went to the same school at the same time as my children. He was brought up a few streets away. So I was rooted to the telly last night. The same applies to other big fights. The major golf tournaments, the Rugby world cup and six nations, etc., etc,. etc,…and the Olympics…all of them, including the Paralympics.

        • Kodie

          I’m not sure how much you know about the US, but I live in Boston, and it’s crazy about its sports teams, like to the point of interrupting the shows to cut to a press conference. I almost got hit in the head on Super Bowl Sunday while food shopping because some nutty woman decided to pass a 3 pound package of goldfish crackers to her husband who wasn’t aware. Someone screamed “REVENGE” in my face once, on the sidewalk, about another Super Bowl. To that end, I just can’t help but root against Boston teams. I am not from here, I didn’t grow up with anything like it. I don’t hate sports, and I have been to a Red Sox game, it was the first pro baseball I’d ever been to, and it was nice. Short game, less than 2 hours, they lost, and the other people near me seemed less interested in it than I was. I just find people fucking nuts about shit here, and strange like when they go for soccer all of a sudden, because every single kid here plays it, but nobody gives a fuck about (our local team) the Revolution. It’s baseball, football, basketball, and hockey (I think in that order). Everything else is generally ignored unless the media puts a big event in our face, like March Madness (college basketball) or the World Cup, or the Olympics, or certain golf thingies, I can’t remember which one. The one with the green blazer.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I lived in Jacksonville for a while. Been to a few high school games of Lacrosse when my stepson was playing. Also visited a number of sports bars. The Floridians take their sports seriously too. From Daytona to the Jaguars…and all sports in between. So yeah, a wee bit of experience of yank sports fanaticism.

        • Kodie

          I knew that you used to live in the US, but not sure for how long, or what exposure you might have had to what it’s like. I lived in the US for over 30 years with a father who wasn’t into any of those sports, not too far from NYC with several major sports teams (sometimes two for each sport), and never encountered anything like what it’s like here in Boston.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The green blazer thing is the U.S. Open…or any open I think.

          The crazies usually come out for the Ryder Cup.

        • Greg G.

          certain golf thingies, I can’t remember which one. The one with the green blazer.

          The Masters.

        • Kodie

          I just never think of golf, and then it’s in my face.

        • Kodie

          I’m not saying nothing happens in the stories of the bible, just that the way they tell it isn’t at all entertaining.

        • Do you think they were meant to be entertaining?

        • Kodie

          Yes, of course.

        • Why do you think that is the most plausible way to understand what they were trying to do? (I’m not aware of a single Jew or Christian who thinks that was anything like the primary purpose of the OT. But they could all be wrong or I could be unaware of what some think.)

        • Kodie

          I wasn’t there, so I don’t know if different tellers of the oral traditions even thought they were relaying more history than fables. Hearing these stories told, before there were books, may very well have as closely resembled modern films and plays as any campfire story could, but reading the book is like, the guy who ended up with the job of committing these stories to the written word was just trying to remember a really good joke. Do you know anyone who tries to retell a funny joke and fucks it up, goes back to the beginning, no wait, his name was Joe, not Tom, and it was in a convenience store, not a McDonald’s, no wait… and starts the joke 5 times until they finally get to the punchline, and fuck that up too? That’s what the bible sounds like to me. Do you think that’s what they intended it to sound like while repeating these stories?

          Granted, I don’t know what the Greek myths actually sounded like. If there are copies written anywhere, but as far as I know, all we have is the gist of these ancient soap operas as transcribed by someone who had a little bit of authoristic license.

        • Ignorant Amos

          C’mon…what about the woman who yearned for the days when her lovers had cocks like a donkey and came like a horse…they don’t tell those yarns in Sunday school.

          “There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses.” – Ezekiel 23:20

          For an entertaining way to some the nonsense…with funny pictures…try the Brick Testament. Or don’t.

          http://www.bricktestament.com/home.html

        • Kodie

          The bible can be very entertaining when presented in alternate (and especially, but not necessarily, subversive) formats.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Well I can’t read it in the Koine Greek, so every version is an alternative and in many cases, a subversive format. The KJV is a fuck up in the eyes of the textual purists.

        • I just don’t see why you [apparently] think that “entertaining story” is the only thing that the OT writers could plausibly have been doing. I’m well-acquainted with stories that are meant to be simple and drive home some moral lesson. Can one really operate a society on top of such stories? I don’t think so, unless it’s a stratified society where the masses operate according to simplistic ethics/​morality while the ruling elite know that things are much more complex, ambiguous, and often boring.

          In other words, maybe the OT stories appear bad to you because they were never intended to be what you think of as “stories”. For some reason, this doesn’t seem like a live option for you. May I ask why?

        • Kodie

          I already answered your stupid questions.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I just don’t see why you [apparently] think that “entertaining story” is the only thing that the OT writers could plausibly have been doing.

          I missed the part where Kodie made that assertion.

          I’m well-acquainted with stories that are meant to be simple and drive home some moral lesson.

          Like the one’s in the Bible ya mean?

          Can one really operate a society on top of such stories?

          Are there no cultures that manage in that way?

          I don’t think so, unless it’s a stratified society where the masses operate according to simplistic ethics/​morality while the ruling elite know that things are much more complex, ambiguous, and often boring.

          Wait, isn’t that what the Bible is all about…anthropologically?

          You do know that most of the others on this site don’t believe the stories were inspired by an immaterial mind outside time and space who was past eternal and created the universe out of nothing and decided the best way to get a message to it’s creation was to inspire a bunch of nomads a few millennia ago to write it in the form of ridiculous stories, right?

        • I missed the part where Kodie made that assertion.

          I repeatedly asked for “Could they have been attempting anything other than story?” and the repeated ignoring of the question led to me surmising that Kodie thinks there are no other plausible options. I’m being asked to make bricks without straw, here.

          LB: I’m well-acquainted with stories that are meant to be simple and drive home some moral lesson.

          IA: Like the one’s in the Bible ya mean?

          The “story” of Abraham is “simple”?

          LB: Can one really operate a society on top of such stories?

          IA: Are there no cultures that manage in that way?

          I suspect that the leaders always depend on something much more complex than the equivalent of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Perhaps the followers are allowed to get by on something simpler.

          LB: I don’t think so, unless it’s a stratified society where the masses operate according to simplistic ethics/​morality while the ruling elite know that things are much more complex, ambiguous, and often boring.

          IA: Wait, isn’t that what the Bible is all about…anthropologically?

          At least a big chunk of it is about that. I suspect the following is true:

              A second sweeping difference between ancient Near Eastern royal inscriptions and biblical narrative concerns the role of the gods in the story. We think of the Bible as nothing if not a book of religious literature, a work that proclaims God’s works in the world of ancient Israel. But when the Bible is set against the royal inscriptions, an unexpected phenomenon catches our attention. The gods are everywhere present in the royal inscriptions, and explicitly so—much more than in biblical narrative. …
              Surprisingly, by contrast, we note that the Bible makes relatively little overt mention of God in its narratives about individuals and their lives. The Moses rescue narrative is a case in point: God is nowhere explicitly mentioned. … (Created Equal, 148–149)

          That can be interpreted multiple ways; one is that God wants his people to grow up. Now, how to balance that against Romans 1:18–23

          You do know that most of the others on this site don’t believe the stories were inspired by an immaterial mind outside time and space who was past eternal and created the universe out of nothing and decided the best way to get a message to it’s creation was to inspire a bunch of nomads a few millennia ago to write it in the form of ridiculous stories, right?

          Wait, really?

        • Ignorant Amos

          I repeatedly asked for “Could they have been attempting anything other than story?” and the repeated ignoring of the question led to me surmising that Kodie thinks there are no other plausible options. I’m being asked to make bricks without straw, here.

          So the answer is, she didn’t…a thought as much. Kodie seems less enamoured with the style of writing than the entertainment value of the content, regardless of what the authors intension behind the story.

          The “story” of Abraham is “simple”?

          Is that the only story in the bible? The story of Abraham is actually a number of stories.

          In any case, yes, it is a number of “simple” stories.

          The sacrifice of Isaac was a test of faith. Simple as that.

          I suspect that the leaders always depend on something much more complex than the equivalent of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Perhaps the followers are allowed to get by on something simpler.

          So the answer is that at best, you don’t know? At some point in human history the leaders relied on nothing more complex than the equivalent of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Pagan Celts spring to mind…but there are examples in modernity. Scientology is nothing but pulp fiction. LRH started that nonsense from simple beginnings.

          Wait, really?

          Something you seem to struggle with. You comment from the assumption that a god exists, and that that god is YahwehJesus. Something that you have avoided demonstrating in any way convincingly. Your particular set of holy texts are just a collection of fictional stories, in the same way all other religions holy texts are a collection of fictional stories.

          Irish fairy tales and legends are full of enchantment, brave deeds and lost loves. Told from generation to generation, they are as fascinating now as they were to their original listeners.

          Far superior to the yarns in the Hebrew texts. Certainly as complex, but still simple.

          Ireland has one of the finest cultural heritages and a standard reference book combining the related subjects of folklore, myth, legend and romance is long overdue. There are 350 substantial entries, in alphabetical order from Abán, a 6th-century saint, to Weather, all with full references to sources, a synopsis of relevant stories, and discussion of their origin, nature and development. These are complimented by a genre-list of material under various headings, such as Mythical Lore, Fianna Cycle, Ulster Cycle, King Cycles, Peoples and Traditions, Religious Lore, and Folk Custom and Belief. There is also a wealth of genealogical detail, indicating how historical and social circumstances have influenced the growth and spread of Irish lore. DAITHI O HOGAIN, Associate Professor of Irish Folklore at University College Dublin, is an international authority on folklore and traditional literature.

          https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/The_Lore_of_Ireland.html?id=aSQoAQAAMAAJ&redir_esc=y

          The pantheon of Celtic god’s are no more real, or existed, than any other god’s invented by man’s imagination. They just got replaced. What’s the difference?

        • LB: I just don’t see why you [apparently] think that “entertaining story” is the only thing that the OT writers could plausibly have been doing.

          IA: I missed the part where Kodie made that assertion.

          LB: I repeatedly asked for “Could they have been attempting anything other than story?” and the repeated ignoring of the question led to me surmising that Kodie thinks there are no other plausible options.

          IA: So the answer is, she didn’t…a thought as much.

          Yes see the “[apparently]”, which I’ve now underlined for you.

          LB: I’m well-acquainted with stories that are meant to be simple and drive home some moral lesson.

          IA: Like the one’s in the Bible ya mean?

          LB: The “story” of Abraham is “simple”?

          IA: Is that the only story in the bible? The story of Abraham is actually a number of stories.

          In any case, yes, it is a number of “simple” stories.

          The sacrifice of Isaac was a test of faith. Simple as that.

          Yeah that’s like saying reality is actually only “simple”, because you can atomize everything. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if the almost!-sacrifice of Isaac was intended to undermine the idea that YHWH was like other deities with whom Abraham would have been familiar. But hey, that’s simple too, amirite?

          So the answer is that at best, you don’t know?

          Oh, I suspect there’s a terrific amount of complexity in the OT which is relevant for empowering the little guy. But @disqus_0FsPDLqpUy:disqus wrote “I don’t really care what you think about, Luke.”

          Something you seem to struggle with. You comment from the assumption that a god exists, and that that god is YahwehJesus.

          You are welcome to show where I have presupposed, claimed, or implied that God exists or anything more than that, in any of my arguments on CE. (Otto tried this recently, and so far, has failed.) Until you do that, what I believe that is not required for my arguments to go through is not necessarily relevant to the conversation. That’s because I’m disallowed from getting information on what drives others’ thinking, as can be seen by my 5x attempt to understand why Bob or his followers would think three things he mentioned in part 2. (5th attempt) Fair’s fair.

          See, we all comment from assumptions, from plausibility structures. The dominant strategy of “skeptics” is to always go on the attack and refuse to be attacked with any intensity, so that their position appears much stronger than it in fact is. “Scratch a skeptic, find a dogmatist.” So, if you want to remain at the level of abstraction, where nobody says what [s]he really believes, at core—then I’ll happily play that game.

          Your particular set of holy texts are just a collection of fictional stories, in the same way all other religions holy texts are a collection of fictional stories.

          If you say so, it must be true.

          What’s the difference?

          Here’s a relevant difference:

              A second sweeping difference between ancient Near Eastern royal inscriptions and biblical narrative concerns the role of the gods in the story. We think of the Bible as nothing if not a book of religious literature, a work that proclaims God’s works in the world of ancient Israel. But when the Bible is set against the royal inscriptions, an unexpected phenomenon catches our attention. The gods are everywhere present in the royal inscriptions, and explicitly so—much more than in biblical narrative. …
              Surprisingly, by contrast, we note that the Bible makes relatively little overt mention of God in its narratives about individuals and their lives. The Moses rescue narrative is a case in point: God is nowhere explicitly mentioned. … (Created Equal, 148–149)

          That’s comparing contemporaries, not the ancient Hebrews to the less-ancient Celts.

        • ildi

          “You are welcome to show where I have presupposed, claimed, or implied that God exists or anything more than that, in any of my arguments on CE.”

          In this very thread in just one comment:

          “…somehow things have to be purer and cleaner when understanding God—else he cannot possibly exist.”

          “Now to YHWH’s repeated promises. Could it be that the idea of getting a free lunch from deity was so shocking that repetition was required to fully absorb it?”

        • LB: You are welcome to show where I have presupposed, claimed, or implied that God exists or anything more than that, in any of my arguments on CE.

          i: In this very thread in just one comment:

          LB: It’s fascinating that while the above is 100% acceptable for doing science, somehow things have to be purer and cleaner when understanding God—else he cannot possibly exist.

          Umm … I was talking about others’ conception of God. Fail #1.

          LB: Now to YHWH’s repeated promises. Could it be that the idea of getting a free lunch from deity was so shocking that repetition was required to fully absorb it?

          I was talking about YHWH as portrayed in the Tanakh. Fail #2.

        • ildi

          Yeah, right. You’re not fooling anybody (except maybe yourself which is sad)

        • If you and others do not want to employ elementary logic, that’s your deal. I know that dogmatically stereotyping others is more fun than actually paying attention to their arguments.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yes see the “[apparently]”, which I’ve now underlined for you.

          Your “apparently”, underlined or not, caveat doesn’t mean that it was that apparent. You made that inference. She didn’t make the claim, so the correct response to, “I missed the part where Kodie made that assertion” is, “she didn’t”.

          Yeah that’s like saying reality is actually only “simple”, because you can atomize everything.

          No it isn’t. You are being silly. It was a test. A test of Abraham’s faith and obedience. Isaac, his most prized possession was to be forfeit as a demonstration. Something that would get you thrown in jail or the funny farm if used as a defence in a court of law today. Because even the religious don’t really wear it.

          Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if the almost!-sacrifice of Isaac was intended to undermine the idea that YHWH was like other deities with whom Abraham would have been familiar.

          Is that an interpretation?

          Jephthah’s daughter didn’t fair so well. Yahweh wasn’t that much unlike other deities in that case. Though I find it interesting that other deities existed at the time of Abraham.

          http://www.thebricktestament.com/judges/jephthah_kills_his_virgin_daughter/jg11_34.html

          The Jephthah story came well after Abraham and Isaac. What was the lesson there…don’t make silly wagers? God could still have stayed the burnt offering of his virgin daughter at the last minute, but chose not to, Yahweh prefers virgins I guess…a thing with deities.

          What about the two son’s of Aaron getting smote for burning the wrong incense? How unlike other deities is that? A bit much, don’t ya think?

          Moses then said to Aaron, ‘That is what Yahweh meant when he said, “In those who are close to me I show my holiness, and before all the people I show my glory.”‘~ Leviticus 10:3

          http://www.bricktestament.com/the_wilderness/god_kills_aarons_sons/lv10_01a.html

          Aaron, one of Yahweh’s righteous, wasn’t spared his two son’s, why was that?

          Yahweh had no compunction about killing innocent babies when it suited the story in the silly book.

          http://www.bricktestament.com/king_david/god_kills_a_baby/2s12_13.html

          Yahweh had no problem answering the request of Elisha to send two bears out to rip up 42 youths for the crime of mocking his baldness in 2 Kings. A bizarre story for an omnibenevolent god who can do anything. But what is more bizarre is the apologetic excuses for a fictional story. The KJV has mistranslated the word for youths as little children. Well that makes it okay then, doesn’t it? Mauled for name-calling is just fine if it is youths that are doing it and not little children.

          But hey, that’s simple too, amirite?

          Even if your conjecture was accurate, the answer is still yes. Of course you can read into it all sorts of whatever and make it complex philosophy, but it is still what it is, a simple story about unwavering faith and obedience.

          The OT is full of abhorrent shit and YahwehJesus is directly involved, or complicit in the actions.

        • LB: The “story” of Abraham is “simple”?

          IA: Is that the only story in the bible? The story of Abraham is actually a number of stories.

          In any case, yes, it is a number of “simple” stories.

          The sacrifice of Isaac was a test of faith. Simple as that.

          LB: Yeah that’s like saying reality is actually only “simple”, because you can atomize everything. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if the almost!-sacrifice of Isaac was intended to undermine the idea that YHWH was like other deities with whom Abraham would have been familiar. But hey, that’s simple too, amirite?

          IA: No it isn’t. You are being silly. It was a test. A test of Abraham’s faith and obedience. Isaac, his most prized possession was to be forfeit as a demonstration.

          (i) I’m not convinced the almost-sacrifice is that simple; (ii) you moved the goalposts from all of the [atomized] stories to one.

          Something that would get you thrown in jail or the funny farm if used as a defence in a court of law today. Because even the religious don’t really wear it.

          There’s a lot that was daily fare back then which humans had to learn was actually rather bad. Piss on the means of learning and you’ll hamstring future learning.

          Is that an interpretation?

          Obviously.

          Jephthah’s daughter didn’t fair so well.

          Actually she might have “faired” rather nicely; but if so it stopped suddenly once she stopped faring well. But now we’re playing Whac-A-Mole and I’m going to put the kibosh on that.

          The OT is full of abhorrent shit and YahwehJesus is directly involved, or complicit in the actions.

          If the Israelites were actually struggling to be less terrible than surrounding nations, what you say appears irrelevant (even if partially correct) unless you think humans can become perfect in one day, or see perfection for what it is when they are incredibly flawed. Do you believe either of these things?

        • Ignorant Amos

          i) I’m not convinced the almost-sacrifice is that simple;

          Luke, it is a literary plot device set as a test of unwavering faith and obedience. You are welcome to complicate it as much as you wish to futer you position, but there is really no need.

          Sacrificing one’s own child is the ultimate test of faith. Whenever God allows our faith to be tested, we can trust that it is for a good purpose. Trials and tests reveal our obedience to God and the genuineness of our faith and trust in him. Tests also produce steadfastness, strength of character, and equip us to weather the storms of life because they press us closer to the Lord.

          The story is heinous. What sort of trauma did Isaac endure? Well none as it is fiction, but for the sake of argument, imagine being bound up by yer da then placed on a an offering pyre in the sincere belief that you were about to be killed.

          Of course, there is a bit of a giveaway in the text.

          Abraham told his servants “we” will come back to you, meaning both he and Isaac. Right there, in Genesis 22:5…

          5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and we will come back to you.”

          Abraham must have believed God would either, stay his hand, provide a substitute sacrifice, or would raise Isaac from the dead. Or he was deranged. Or he was lying to the servants.

          (ii) you moved the goalposts from all of the [atomized] stories to one.

          Nope. I said already that the Story of Abraham was a collection of small stories cobbled together and was taking just one out to focus on. But even then, your analogy is ridiculous to compare what I did with reducing all reality to “simple” because everything can be atomized. That you can’t see these ridiculous comparisons is revealing.

          There’s a lot that was daily fare back then which humans had to learn was actually rather bad. Piss on the means of learning and you’ll hamstring future learning.

          Now you are going full blown apologetics. It was a story, it didn’t happen. But the moral of the story is bad. That the story occurs at the beginning of the book and there are examples subsequently show it was okay. My point is that “god told me to do it” is not a defence today, yet we are expected to believe that in the story of Abraham that “god really did tell him to do it” and he was righteous for going to do it. We are definitely better today than back then and not because the bible and gods.

          Obviously.

          A thought so…not a mainstream one though?

        • Luke, it is a literary plot device set as a test of unwavering faith and obedience. You are welcome to complicate it as much as you wish to futer you position, but there is really no need.

          Yeah uhuh, there was no Oral Torah. It’s all simple, yo! Let’s just, uh, forget this:

          Making every word of the Bible, indeed every letter, count justifies most midrashic and talmudic legal exegesis. For instance the Bible, Deuteronomy 21:16–17, stipulates that the first born son is to receive a double portion of a father’s inheritance. The question naturally arises how this double portion is to be calculated. Do we mean a flat double? So that if the father leaves 21000 dollars and there are 6 sons the oldest takes 14000 and the other 5 take 1400 each. The oldest always gets double the amount of the total of his brothers. That would seem to be the simplest way to explain the passage. Or we might suppose that the text means the oldest takes a proportional double. If there are six sons the oldest would get 6000 and the 5 others would get 3000 each. Then the oldest gets only double what each one gets rather than double the total that his brothers receive. The Jewish sages transmitted the methods and decisions of the soferim (Sifre Deut piska 117, Babylonian Talmud Babba Batra 122b) who decided the law to be that the oldest takes a proportional double and his amount is determined by the number of brothers he has to share with. They looked at the verse and found an extra word: “In the day he gives an inheritance to his sons.” Now the whole episode here discusses two sons, one from a beloved wife and one from a hated one. There is no need to state “sons” here when shorter phrasing “he gives them an inheritance” would suffice and in Hebrew entails the addition of only single letter rather than the whole phrase “to his sons.” Why then has “to his sons” been added? They concluded it was written into the verse to make “his sons” the indicator of the amount of the double inheritance in all cases. (Studies in Exegesis, 4)

          Let’s just be simplistic literalistic Protestants, instead. 😀

          The story is heinous.

          Clinging to the truth more strongly than one’s children is important to avoid this nonsense:

              The reason for the non-Western closedness, or ethnocentrism, is clear. Men must love and be loyal to their families and their peoples in order to preserve them. Only if they think their own things are good can they rest content with them. A father must prefer his child to other children, a citizen his country to others. That is why there are myths—to justify these attachments. And a man needs a place and opinions by which to orient himself. This is strongly asserted by those who talk about the importance of roots. The problem of getting along with outsiders is secondary to, and sometimes in conflict with, having an inside, a people, a culture, a way of life. A very great narrowness is not incompatible with the health of an individual or a people, whereas with great openness it is hard to avoid decomposition. The firm binding of the good with one’s own, the refusal to see a distinction between the two, a vision of the cosmos that has a special place for one’s people, seem to be conditions of culture. This is what really follows from the study of non-Western cultures proposed for undergraduates. It points them back to passionate attachment to their own and away from the science which liberates them from it. Science now appears as a threat to culture and a dangerous uprooting charm. In short, they are lost in a no-man’s-land between the goodness of knowing and the goodness of culture, where they have been placed by their teachers who no longer have the resources to guide them. Help must be sought elsewhere. (The Closing of the American Mind, 37)

          If you want to say that that switch is “heinous”, be my guest. If you want to say it’s “heinous” to show Abraham that he can actually have his offspring if he holds less tightly to them (and thus is more open to what is true)—show him in a way he will actually believe and those after him might also believe—then be my guest. But if I were you, I’d check to see if the original hearers thought it was “heinous” like you do.

          Abraham must have believed God would either, stay his hand, provide a substitute sacrifice, or would raise Isaac from the dead. Or he was deranged. Or he was lying to the servants.

          That seems to about cover it. The author of Hebrews 11:8–12 could well have made his choice from that list.

          But even then, your analogy is ridiculous to compare what I did with reducing all reality to “simple” because everything can be atomized. That you can’t see these ridiculous comparisons is revealing.

          You could try … explaining it, rather than asserting it. BTW I just got introduced to the term Mereological nihilism over on SO; it seems strangely relevant to your repeated use of “simple”.

          But the moral of the story is bad.

          As judged by our best guess of the impact of the story on the hearers, or your interpretation ≥ 3500 years later?

          My point is that “god told me to do it” is not a defence today, yet we are expected to believe that in the story of Abraham that “god really did tell him to do it” and he was righteous for going to do it.

          According to Genesis, YHWH had built quite the track record with Abraham before asking him to sacrifice his son. In fact, YHWH went under the threat of the knife first, in Genesis 15. See the Hittite suzerainty treaty form for some background on what is going on in that passage. Of course you cannot kill YHWH, but you can certainly ignore him and act as if he’s dead—or never existed in the first place. As to the simplistic divine command theory you raise, I’m going to go with Trenery’s gloss of MacIntyre:

              If ethical imperatives are identified with commands it becomes impossible to distinguish morality from the exercise of power.[170] There must therefore be an independent set of moral criteria through which that culture can determine that God’s commands are appropriate.[171] These moral criteria relate to the role played by both moral imperatives and God’s commands in the realization of an essential human nature. The point of conformity to the dictates of morality and of obedience to God’s commands is that such submission leads to the fulfilment of human needs and desires. What would destabilize such a culture is a lack of agreement about what constitutes human nature and its fulfilment, as this would lead to a failure to agree on the meaning of moral propositions within that culture, and this in turn would weaken any connection between such propositions and their fulfilment through adherence to religious beliefs and injunctions. The point of both moral and religious beliefs would be lost with the loss of their interconnection with the achievement of human happiness and potential. (Alasdair MacIntyre, George Lindbeck, and the Nature of Tradition, 42–43)

          Word is expected to match reality. One might even say that word is supposed to be predictive. Unlike the standard advertisement which promises much more than it delivers. You know, the thing which powers the internet and Western civilization.

          A thought so…not a mainstream one though?

          I have no idea how mainstream that interpretation is across spacetime. I only came up with it when I tried to think of good reasons for going through all that drama, combined with setting it in context of the Israelites, who at times thought it was a great idea to burn their children alive. Clearly, merely saying “don’t do that” doesn’t work. As any parent knows. Something more was required. Maybe that was part of the mix of the almost-sacrifice of Isaac.

        • A bit of your comment of here needs some more response:

          Luke, it is a literary plot device set as a test of unwavering faith and obedience.

          Given Abraham questioning YHWH about how many righteous people it would take to save Sodom from destruction, I don’t believe you. Given YHWH allowing Jacob to wrestle with him, I don’t believe you. Given YHWH telling Job to “gird the loins of his mind” in Job 40:6–14, I don’t believe you. What YHWH clearly wanted is for people to take him seriously. So for example, we can suppose that Abel took the curse given to Adam & Even seriously, then figured out he could avoid it by herding sheep. What YHWH doesn’t want throughout the OT is for people to ignore his wisdom and the crash against the shoals of reality. This, I claim, is a vastly superior interpretation of the totality of the textual evidence. The desire is for the movement to be from huge booming voice in Deut 5:22–33 to the “still small voice” in 1 Kings 19, to the new heart in Jer 31:31–34 and Ezek 36:22–32. But hey, fuck that when you have a fundamentalist Christian-turned atheist narrative to advance! Caricatures for the win! Stereotypes for the win! Intellectual dishonesty for the win!

          Sacrificing one’s own child is the ultimate test of faith.

          Fucking bullshit. Sacrificing your own child is 2 Kings 3. Abraham’s excuse is that he probably came from a culture where that was accepted. YHWH’s excuse is that human frailty required the most dramatic possible illustration that YHWH would never actually demand child sacrifice. But hay guyz, let’s sacrifice millions of unborn children a year to our convenience, to stories of how Downs Syndrome children have worse lives (they actually have happier lives), etc. After all, there’s some extreme case where humans haven’t yet figured out how to cure the disease because they prefer war and all sorts of shit to understanding how creation works. We can use that as an example for why abortion is A-OK! Oh, and rape too—surely one act of heinous violence justifies the next act of heinous violence. Fighting evil with evil is how we defeat evil! Wait, sorry, scratch all that; as long as the human hasn’t passed through a vagina or cesarean section slice it can be exterminated we will end all discussion after showing the socially acceptable/​required amount of sadness. There are no long-term effects on would-be mother or father, except for «random unexplained shit here + Christians are evil».

          What sort of trauma did Isaac endure?

          Does that only matter once the human organism is outside of its mother’s womb? Does it matter only once the human organism is no longer classified by anyone as ‘parasite’? Oh, maybe you’re going to claim that I don’t care about the mother, that I want women to be kept down. Well, my only response to that is: is your claim falsifiable, or unfalsifiable? My guess is the latter—based on pretty much every other interaction I have had where that matter came up in any way, shape or form. Statistically, you care about humans as long as they’re out of the mother and granting the infanticide people some rope, as long as they’re old enough. Before that, as long as you can subjectively convince yourself that they don’t suffer when you exterminate them, it’s A-OK. Sacrifice away! In fact, don’t call it a sacrifice. Call it “excising some tissue”. That’s the way to do it. Jews were “pigs”, Tutsis were “cockroaches”, and fetuses are “tissue”. Dehumanize the life you don’t like, while bitching and moaning about biblical narratives where no life was actually destroyed. I have to say, the almost-sacrifice of Isaac is a wonderful hypocrisy-detector. It’s almost as if this is true:

          For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:12–13)

          Something “is heinous”, I’ll agree with you on that.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Given Abraham questioning YHWH about how many righteous people it would take to save Sodom from destruction, I don’t believe you.

          Presupposes Abraham questioned YahwehJesus because it is in an ancient book…I don’t believe it, nor do I have any reason to do so…and you shouldn’t either.

          Given YHWH allowing Jacob to wrestle with him, I don’t believe you.

          Presupposes Jacob wrestled YahwehJesus because it is in an ancient book…I don’t believe it, nor do I have any reason to do so…and you shouldn’t either.

          Given YHWH telling Job to “gird the loins of his mind” in Job 40:6–14, I don’t believe you

          Presupposes YahwehJesus talked to Job because it is in an ancient book…I don’t believe it, nor do I have any reason to do so…and you shouldn’t either.

          What YHWH clearly wanted is for people to take him seriously.

          Presupposes that YahwehJesus existed and wanted to be taken seriously because it is written in an ancient book…I don’t believe it, nor do I have any reason to do so…and you shouldn’t either.

          So for example, we can suppose that Abel took the curse given to Adam & Even seriously, then figured out he could avoid it by herding sheep.

          We can do fuck all of the sort. They are characters in an ancient book. If you believe a character in a book took something seriously and it has meaning to you, that’s a different thing. I don’t believe it…nor do I have reason to do so.

          What YHWH doesn’t want throughout the OT is for people to ignore his wisdom and the crash against the shoals of reality.

          Presupposes that YahwehJesus existed and didn’t want his wisdom ignored because it is written in an ancient book…I don’t believe it, nor do I have any reason to do so…and you shouldn’t either.

          This, I claim, is a vastly superior interpretation of the totality of the textual evidence.

          We know, it’s just that you can’t support the claim with evidence that it is anything more than stories in an ancient book…I don’t believe it, nor do I have any reason to do so…and you shouldn’t either.

          The desire is for the movement to be from huge booming voice in Deut 5:22–33 to the “still small voice” in 1 Kings 19, to the new heart in Jer 31:31–34 and Ezek 36:22–32. But hey, fuck that when you have a fundamentalist Christian-turned atheist narrative to advance! Caricatures for the win! Stereotypes for the win! Intellectual dishonesty for the win!

          Intellectual dishonesty for the win? Bwahahahaha! Spoing!

        • Greg G.

          Having people talking to and wrestling with God is an indication that the stories evolved from polytheism and turned gods into people.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Fucking bullshit.

          Sacrificing your own child is 2 Kings 3. Abraham’s excuse is that he probably came from a culture where that was accepted. YHWH’s excuse is that human frailty required the most dramatic possible illustration that YHWH would never actually demand child sacrifice. But hay guyz, let’s sacrifice millions of unborn children a year to our convenience, to stories of how Downs Syndrome children have worse lives (they actually have happier lives), etc. After all, there’s some extreme case where humans haven’t yet figured out how to cure the disease because they prefer war and all sorts of shit to understanding how creation works. We can use that as an example for why abortion is A-OK! Oh, and rape too—surely one act of heinous violence justifies the next act of heinous violence. Fighting evil with evil is how we defeat evil! Wait, sorry, scratch all that; as long as the human hasn’t passed through a vagina or cesarean section slice it can be exterminated we will end all discussion after showing the socially acceptable/​required amount of sadness. There are no long-term effects on would-be mother or father, except for «random unexplained shit here + Christians are evil».

        • Of course it’s bullshit…but it is bullshit from Christians based on a story in an ancient book.

          “Christians” (monolithic assumption)
          “based on” (fundamentalist single-interpretation assumption)

          And Judges 11:30-39.

          Yeah, and that. Where does God praise Jephthah for that shit?

          But are you asserting that in the story of Abraham and Isaac, Abraham knew all along that Isaac was not to be killed and burnt as an offering, and that Isaac was well aware of this ahead of time?

          That does not at all flow logically from what I said.

          Conjecture?

          Yes. If your argument falls apart upon that conjecture being true, admit as much and I’ll do more work to see how confident we can be about the conjecture’s truth or falsity.

          It didn’t stop Jephtah who came from a culture that prohibited.

          People don’t always obey the law. News @ 11. Chris Hedges understands people like you:

              The anemic liberal class continues to assert, despite ample evidence to the contrary, that human freedom and equality can be achieved through the charade of electoral politics and constitutional reform. It refuses to acknowledge the corporate domination of traditional democratic channels for ensuring broad participatory power. Law has become, perhaps, the last idealistic refuge of the liberal class. Liberals, while despairing of legislative bodies and the lack of genuine debate in political campaigns, retain a naive faith in law as an effective vehicle for reform. They retain this faith despite a manipulation of the legal system by corporate power that is as flagrant as the corporate manipulation of electoral politics and legislative deliberation. Laws passed by Congress, for example, deregulated the economy and turned it over to speculators. Laws permitted the pillaging of the U.S. Treasury on behalf of Wall Street. Laws have suspended vital civil liberties including habeas corpus and permit the president to authorize the assassination of U.S. citizens deemed complicit in terror. The Supreme Court, overturning legal precedent, ended the recount in the 2000 Florida presidential election and anointed George W. Bush as president. (Death of the Liberal Class, 8–9)

          Before encountering Hedges, I asked a Stanford professor whether he thought his students trusted too much in law. His answer was no, but the faculty did.

          … and why YahwehJesus would accept the oath …

          What is your evidence that YHWH accepted the oath? You’re not going to say that silence gives consent, are you?

          And yet that’s what happened.

          Last time I checked, Isaac wasn’t sacrificed.

          Anti-abortion hyperbole rhetoric is duly noted. It is a case of “look, over there, squirrels” and it is a non-sequitur. Whataboutery at it’s finest. Call out mortal humans all you like, but what is your YahwehJesus doing about it…those abortions that are carried out for convenience, what’s that all about.

          You think it’s wrong for God to kill innocent humans while you endorse the killing of innocent humans. Hypocrisy defangs the hypocrite’s moral yammering. As to “convenience”, if you think that doesn’t justify then surely you’d be ok with laws that outlaw abortion if it is only for convenience. Are you? I’ll bet there’s 10s of millions of dollars that pro-life people would be willing to put into legal scholarship & investigation on how to define “convenience”.

          You seem to be frothing Luke.

          A bit. I think think it’s rich for someone who endorses the mass extermination of innocent human life to complain about YHWH ostensibly commanding something much less intense, on a much lower scale.

          No one has all the answers …

          Agreed.

          … believing in all that nonsense woo-woo as a remedy to sorting it out, isn’t, hasn’t, and won’t help find the answer either …

          I suggest a wager, where Christians put up millions of $ and atheists put up millions of $, defining all the terms and betting that if the Christians actually make progress in “sorting it out”, all the money goes to a charity of their choice, and if they don’t make progress, all the money goes to a charity of the atheists’ choice. We can argue about history (e.g. Christianity’s contributions to egalitarianism), but it’s so easy to tell just about any story you want about history. Making things better going forward is an entirely different matter, and probably more valuable anyway. So, how do we really test this claim of yours, employing the highest standards of rigor and science?

          Here’s a concrete idea. Have there be an atheist foundation for trying to help out the homeless and a Christian foundation for doing the same. Let each be as open or closed with its empirical data and current running hypotheses. After some established time period, we could see which group has learned how to best help the homeless get homes and jobs (if mental health permits the latter). The whole deal is off if either side is sued for discrimination against religious/​non-religious belief. (There are bad actors out there who want to fuck everything up, including an effort like this one.)

          How does that sound? The Christian nutjobs y’all love shitting on can be as nutty as they want in trying to help the homeless; the atheist Brights can be as scientific as they want in trying to do the same. Somehow we come up with metrics of success and establish an independent trusted committee of judges. At the end, all the data and hypotheses and such get published. That way, no matter what happens, we come out of it with better tools for helping the homeless.

        • Ignorant Amos

          “Christians” (monolithic assumption)

          “based on” (fundamentalist single-interpretation assumption)

          Hmmmm…. https://www.thoughtco.com/abraham-and-isaac-bible-story-summary-700079

          At ThoughtCo, we believe that learning is a never-ending process, and that great inspiration begins with a question. Whether yours is about science, history, math, or religion, our in-depth articles give you the answers and information you need to be smart, informed and confident. So whether you are asking for a class, that next conversation, or just because you want to know, ThoughtCo can help.

          All of our writers have an educational background and/or professional experience in their subject areas. Many of our literature writers, for example, have degrees in English or Classic Literature. Some have PhDs or work in academia.

          Nevertheless…it is still a Christian interpretation. If I find more Christian interpretations from different flavours of the cult, would that make it less monolithic? If I find a Jewish interpreting it the same, would that help.

          You still need to convince why you have a more superiorly accurate interpretation, and not just another interpretation amongst the many.

          Actually, I don’t think you’ve defined your interpretation yet…or ave missed it.

        • IA: Of course it’s bullshit…but it is bullshit from Christians based on a story in an ancient book.

          LB: “Christians” (monolithic assumption)
          “based on” (fundamentalist single-interpretation assumption)

          IA: Nevertheless…it is still a Christian interpretation. If I find more Christian interpretations from different flavours of the cult, would that make it less monolithic? If I find a Jewish interpreting it the same, would that help.

          Texts permit multiple interpretations; that’s just a fact of reality. What a person says, if the person is then gagged, is also open to multiple interpretations. And sometimes, when someone says something, it is only defined up to a point, past which there is articulation work to be done. I don’t know why this is so hard for people like you to accept. For if you had accepted it fully, you would realize that we need tools for distinguishing better interpretations from worse interpretations. And yet, you don’t seem to have any such tools when it comes to the Bible. I certainly don’t see any on display, except perhaps for a bias toward interpreting texts as badly as you can plausibly manage.

          You really are arguing like the quintessential 1st century Jew—if the Gospels are at all reliable and there are questions there—in refusing to speak on your own authority (or if you do, you are infallible), instead insisting on only working off the reasoning of others. I do get the importance of connecting one’s thought with those who came before (because it is connected—each of us innovates very little if at all). But you seem awfully stuck on only doing that. Why?

          As to your questions, there will definitely be a spread of interpretations. For example:

              I would like to consider one final technique used in biblical narrative for the advancement of substantive arguments of a general nature. The technique I have in mind is the repetition of a certain phrase or word-combination to create a kind of technical language for the expression of precise generalized concepts. A well-known example is the expression “Here am I” (hineni), which is used to indicate devotion and readiness to act in response to God’s call — often in the face of extraordinary hardship. For example, Moses says hineni in response to God’s call at the burning bush, immediately before he learns that he is to be sent down to Egypt to confront Pharaoh. But this term does not stand in isolation at this point in the narrative. When the reader comes upon it, he is supposed to remember Abraham saying hineni in response to God’s call on the day he is told to sacrifice his son; and Jacob saying hineni on the day God tells him he must go down to Egypt and into slavery; and the prophet Samuel, as a child, saying hineni on the day God tells him that the house of Eli is to be overthrown.[54] But once this term is seen as taking on such precise connotations, it can also be deployed in slightly different ways to bring these connotations to bear on related contexts. Thus when Abraham walks with his son Isaac toward Mount Moria, where God has told Abraham he is to offer him up as a sacrifice, Isaac says to him: “My father,” and Abraham responds, “Here am I, my son” (hineni beni).[55] It is only because the word hineni is used time after time to signify utter devotion to God that we are able to recognize its use in this passage to indicate Abraham’s utter devotion to his son. Moreover, in the story of Abraham’s binding of his son upon the altar, this term appears three times: Abraham responds to God’s first call to him (before the command to sacrifice his son) with hineni. Then, during their journey to Moria, Abraham responds to his son’s question with hineni beni. Finally, as he raises his hand as if to slaughter the boy, Abraham responds to the angel’s call with hineni before hearing that he should not lay his hand upon the youth.[56] In this way, the expression “Here am I,” which is so often used to signify a simple submission and devotion to God, becomes a window into Abraham’s mind, permitting us to see that he is in fact being torn apart by conflicting ultimate loyalties that have been pitted against one another.[57] (The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture, 78)

          Not so simple. Not so atomized. Not so focused on mere “testing”. I wouldn’t be surprised if the concept(s) of upādāna could help us see what’s going on better. I doubt those concepts are “simple”. But in contrast to giving up attachment and craving, this narrative can be seen as a call to ensure that the ordering of one’s cravings is right—God over family. If one gets that wrong, one gets all sorts of pathologies, as I indicated with my excerpt of The Closing of the American Mind. Disordered attachment can be resolved two ways: properly order it, or get rid of it. Yoram Hazony talks elsewhere in Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture of the balance the OT strikes between loyalty to one’s own family and loyalty to the tribe and nation. He rather complexifies the notion of “selfishness”, and I think very usefully. Some of the trivial Christian versions don’t actually work, except perhaps to enrich the religious leaders at the cost of the [often poor] followers. Ezekiel 34 for the win!

          You still need to convince why you have a more superiorly accurate interpretation, and not just another interpretation amongst the many.

          What counts as “more superiorly accurate”, in your … book?

          Actually, I don’t think you’ve defined your interpretation yet…or ave missed it.

          I sometimes try not to do things when the chance of failure is still too high. Like here, with my not knowing how you judge one interpretation to be superior to another.

        • ildi

          “Texts permit multiple interpretations; that’s just a fact of reality. What a person says, if the person is then gagged, is also open to multiple interpretations. And sometimes, when someone says something, it is only defined up to a point, past which there is articulation work to be done. I don’t know why this is so hard for people like you to accept. For if you had accepted it fully, you would realize that we need tools for distinguishing better interpretations from worse interpretations. And yet, you don’t seem to have any such tools when it comes to the Bible. I certainly don’t see any on display, except perhaps for a bias toward interpreting texts as badly as you can plausibly manage.

          You really are arguing like the quintessential 1st century Jew—if the Gospels are at all reliable and there are questions there—in refusing to speak on your own authority (or if you do, you are infallible), instead insisting on only working off the reasoning of others. I do get the importance of connecting one’s thought with those who came before (because it is connected—each of us innovates very little if at all). But you seem awfully stuck on only doing that. Why?”

          You must be delusional to keep asking the same type of question on a comment thread mostly populated by “people like Ignorant Amos” i.e., atheists. Or, the presupposition is so ingrained in you, you really can’t see past it.

          I was really annoyed by the changes Peter Jackson made to core characters and plot devices in The Lord of the Rings, but there was no better or worse interpretation because I wasn’t personally vested in which interpretation was better or worse (except on an emotional level) because I don’t believe Tolkien was inspired by a deity and therefore I have to live by his word. In fact, it’s a perfect example of how a story is updated to meet the needs of a different culture that sees itself as less classist, racist and sexist. You spend so much time trying to rationalize why the bible is more than just an epic about a bronze age war god who morphed into an apocalyptic prophet and therefore a deep analysis is necessary to get the best interpretation because you believe that these characters are actual deities whose teachings are your marching orders-as much as you pretend your “logic” hides this.

        • You must be delusional to keep asking the same type of question on a comment thread mostly populated by “people like Ignorant Amos” i.e., atheists.

          How so? How am I doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result?

          Or, the presupposition is so ingrained in you, you really can’t see past it.

          Which presupposition? Or are you going to play coy, and thus make yourself an enemy of rationality?

          I was really annoyed by the changes Peter Jackson made to core characters and plot devices in The Lord of the Rings, but there was no better or worse interpretation because I wasn’t personally vested in which interpretation was better or worse (except on an emotional level) because I don’t believe Tolkien was inspired by a deity and therefore I have to live by his word.

          So what you’re saying in this sentence is that God is awesome and you aren’t. (See what I did there?)

          You spend so much time trying to rationalize why the bible is more than just …

          Fascinating. I see myself as trying to draw lessons about human nature and social nature from it which we Enlightened 21st century Brights (sorry, you’re the Bright, I’m a Dim) manage to continue denying.

        • ildi

          I can always tell I’ve hit a nerve when you start spewing frantic word salad. Cheers!

        • Erm, two people have hit nerves recently and you aren’t one of them. What it really sounds like is you don’t want to respond rationally. I guess that’s just your way?

        • ildi

          Whatever floats your boat!

        • I’d rather sink than depend on falsehoods.

        • ildi

          You also have a deep-seated need to have the last word-go!

        • ildi

          Just gonna point out that the very sentence that you couldn’t make yourself quote in full answers your question about which presupposition… but then honesty isn’t your strong point.

        • Ummm … this:

          i: You spend so much time trying to rationalize why the bible is more than just an epic about a bronze age war god who morphed into an apocalyptic prophet and therefore a deep analysis is necessary to get the best interpretation because you believe that these characters are actual deities whose teachings are your marching orders-as much as you pretend your “logic” hides this.

          LB: Fascinating. I see myself as trying to draw lessons about human nature and social nature from it which we Enlightened 21st century Brights (sorry, you’re the Bright, I’m a Dim) manage to continue denying.

          ? If so, the whole shtick about “marching orders” is p funny.

        • ildi

          That may be how you see yourself, but your actual words say otherwise-go!

        • ildi

          I also see you avoided addressing the fact that you knew exactly what presupposition I was referring to-making you a lying liar-go!

        • You couldn’t possibly have clued me in on it after …

        • ildi

          Your reading skills suck and you should avoid comments like this that just show you up for being a pretentious maroon: “Which presupposition? Or are you going to play coy, and thus make yourself an enemy of rationality?”

        • Paul B. Lot

          You spend so much time trying to rationalize why the bible is more than just an epic about a bronze age war god who morphed into an apocalyptic prophet and therefore a deep analysis is necessary to get the best interpretation because you believe that these characters are actual deities whose teachings are your marching orders-as much as you pretend your “logic” hides this.

          I disagree with much of what (I know of) Chesterton had to say in many respects, but there was, I think, some wisdom in this observation, the bolded bit is particularly salient:

          The last thing that can be said of a lunatic is that his actions are causeless. If any human acts may loosely be called causeless, they are the minor acts of a healthy man; whistling as he walks; slashing the grass with a stick; kicking his heels or rubbing his hands. It is the happy man who does the useless things; the sick man is not strong enough to be idle. It is exactly such careless and causeless actions that the madman could never understand; for the madman (like the determinist) generally sees too much cause in everything. The madman would read a conspiratorial significance into those empty activities. He would think that the lopping of the grass was an attack on private property. He would think that the kicking of the heels was a signal to an accomplice. If the madman could for an instant become careless, he would become sane. Every one who has had the misfortune to talk with people in the heart or on the edge of mental disorder, knows that their most sinister quality is a horrible clarity of detail; a connecting of one thing with another in a map more elaborate than a maze. If you argue with a madman, it is extremely probable that you will get the worst of it; for in many ways his mind moves all the quicker for not being delayed by the things that go with good judgment. He is not hampered by a sense of humour or by charity, or by the dumb certainties of experience. He is the more logical for losing certain sane affections. Indeed, the common phrase for insanity is in this respect a misleading one. The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason.

          It seems to me that all of the baroque medieval metaphysical/theological lace work exemplifies this perfectly.

          The problem with religious (and insane) people of this type lies not so much in the form of their arguments/logical ability, but in their premises.

          Any valid argument can be used to produce unsound/nonsense conclusions if one jumps of from the wrong point.

          PS. Though the bolded was perhaps most relevant to the point I was making, I doubt that any here (or elsewhere) who has had run-ins with Luke could ignore the truth of the underlined bit.

        • So I looked at your website ThoughtCo and happened on this article:

          ThoughtCo: How Does the Bible Define Faith?
          Faith is defined as belief with strong conviction; firm belief in something for which there may be no tangible proof; complete trust, confidence, reliance, or devotion. Faith is the opposite of doubt.

          Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines faith as “unquestioning belief that does not require proof or evidence; unquestioning belief in God, religious tenets.”

          Faith: What Is It?
          The Bible gives a short definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1:

          “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (NIV)

          What do we hope for? We hope that God is trustworthy and honors his promises. We can be sure that his promises of salvation, eternal life, and a resurrected body will be ours someday based on who God is.

          Let’s actually, y’know, look at the words:

          Now faith (πίστις) is the reality/​confidence/​assurance/​substance (ὑπόστασις) of things hoped for (ἐλπίζω), the conviction/​certainty/​evidence/​proof (ἔλεγχος) of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)

          You’re welcome to skip past the long TDNT excerpts, and return to them if/​when you find my interpretations dubious. The theme is that people don’t want their stable understanding of reality and how to act in it to be challenged, for that can easily bring pain and suffering. The author of Hebrews is challenging this, as well as the whole Bible. But there is an acknowledgment that this is the harder path, and it requires heroic attributes to follow. The people who do manage to break away from the status quo have lots of problems too—perhaps in part because they were at sufficient variance with society in the first place. God actually does want to make things better in cooperation with us, but we do have to cooperate. Ok, on to the TDNT:

          First attested of the words with πισ-τ- is the (verbal) adj. πιστός, with the privative ἄπιστος. It has the act. and pass. senses of “trusting” and “worthy of trust” (“reliable”).

          3. πίστις. Along the lines of the use of πιστός, πίστις means a. (abstr.) “confidence,” “trust,” with a ref. in this sense to persons, relations (Thuc., I, 120, 5) and also things. In so far as it contains an element of uncertainty, trust can be contrasted with knowledge, Soph. Trach., 588–593 and expressly in Plat. Nevertheless, it can also mean “conviction” and (subj.) “certainty,” for δόξῃ μὲν ἕπεται πίστις, Aristot. An., III, 3, p. 428a, 18–20. Parmen. contrasts πίστις ἀληθής (Fr., 1, 30 [Diels7, I, 230, 12] “dependable truth” or “trust in what is real”) with βροτῶν δόξαι.

          7. πιστόω. Of other words in πιστ- only πιστόω need be mentioned with ref. to the NT. It means “to make someone a πιστός,” namely, a. one who is bound by an oath, contract, pledge, etc., and who may thus be relied on, Soph. Oed. Col., 650; Thuc., IV, 88; also pass. in this sense, Hom. Od., 15, 436; Eur. Iph. Aul., 66; in the mid. “to give reciprocal guarantees,” Hom. Il., 6, 233; 21, 286; Polyb., 1, 43, 5; 18, 22, 6, or b. “to make him one who trusts,” “to engage confidence,” Hom. Od., 21, 217 f.; Soph. Oed. Col., 1039. (TDNT: πιστεύω, πίστις, πιστός, πιστόω, ἄπιστος, ἀπιστέω, ἀπιστία, ὀλιγόπιστος, ὀλιγοπιστία)

          The archetypal oath is the suzerainty treaty, which YHWH executes with Abram in Genesis 15; it is to verse 6 that Paul refers in Romans 4:3. Such oaths are predicated upon past actions and are attempts to guarantee future actions. There is nothing “blind” about them. It is simply the case that ‘trust’ ≠ ‘knowledge’. We humans navigate that difference all the time. Next:

          Apart from the scientific and philosophical use, but certainly not entirely independent of it, the noun ὑπόστασις occurs for the first time in Polyb., a generation or so before Pos. with the first philosophical use → 575, 7 ff. The meaning in Polyb. is fundamentally the same: the reality behind appearances. But a consistent transl. is impossible (as in other cases), since very different things might be viewed as this reality.

          It is best to interpret the best-known of the NT ὑπόστασις passages primarily in this light, namely, the much quoted definition of faith in Hb. 11:1: ἔστιν δὲ πίστις ἐλπιζομένων ὑπόστασις, πραγμάτων ἔλεγχος οὐ βλεπομένων. In translation of ὑπόστασις here and in Hb. 3:14 Melanchthon advised Luther to use the rendering “sure confidence.” Whereas all patristic and medieval exegesis presupposed that ὑπόστασις was to be translated substantia and understood in the sense of οὐσία, Luther’s translation introduced a wholly new element into the understanding of Hb. 11:1. Faith is now viewed as personal, subjective conviction. This interpretation has governed Protestant exposition of the passage almost completely, and it has strongly influenced Roman Catholic exegesis. It has also had a broader effect. Yet there can be no question but that this classical Protestant understanding is untenable. The starting-point of exposition must be that ὑπόστασις in Hb. 11:1 has to have not only a meaning like that in Greek usage elsewhere but also a sense similar to that it bears in the other Hb. references. It should also be noted that ὑπόστασις here is parallel to ἔλεγχος and that it occurs in a sentence full of central theological concepts. Now as regards ἔλεγχος it is evident that this does not mean subjective non-doubting nor does it have anything at all to do with conviction; it bears the objective sense of “demonstration” → II, 476, 8 ff. In the first instance, then, the ἔλεγχος of πράγματα οὐ βλεπόμενα is the proof of things one cannot see, i.e., the heavenly world which alone has reality, whereas in Hb. everything visible has only the character of the shadowy and frontal. If one follows the meaning of ὑπόστασις in Hb. 1:3, then ὑπόστασοις ἐλπιζομένων bears a similar sense: it is the reality of the goods hoped for, which have by nature a transcendent quality. Primarily, then, ἔλεγχος and ὑπόστασις do not describe faith but define the character of the transcendent future things, and do so in the same sense as Philo (→ 583, 9 ff.) and other representatives of Middle Platonism (→ 576, 34 ff.) speak of the reality and actuality of God and the world of ideas. In a formulation of incomparable boldness Hb. 11:1 identifies πίστις with this transcendent reality: Faith is the reality of what is hoped for in exactly the sense in which Jesus is called the χαρακτήρ of the reality of the transcendent God in 1:3. The one formulation is as paradoxical as the other to the degree that the presence of the divine reality is found in the one case in the obedience of a suffering and dying man (cf. Hb. 5:7) and in the other in the faith of the community. But this is the point of Hb. Only the work of this Jesus and only participation in this work (== faith) are not subject to the corruptibility of the merely shadowy and prototypical. (TDNT: ὑπόστασις)

          So, there are appearances and there is reality, and ‘faith’ deals with reality instead of appearances. That’s rather different from how ThoughtCo portrays things. There also doesn’t seem to be a necessary lack of doubt going on, contra ThoughtCo. Moving on:

          1. Ἡμεῖς δʼ αὖ διὰ παντὸς τοῦ βίου ἀεὶ γέμομεν ἐλπίδων, we read in Plat. Phileb., 39e, in an analysis in which he shows how human existence is determined not merely by the αἴσθησις which accepts the present but also by the μνήμη of the past and the expectation of the future, and indeed in such a way that, like recollection of the past, expectation of the future (προχαίρειν and προλυπεῖσθαι 39d) is not an objective assessment but a subjective expectation in fear and hope, whose content arises from what man considers to be his own possibilities. “Man’s own being thus determines what he hopes and how he hopes.” He whose hopes are ἀληθεῖς is a θεοφιλής. Expectations and hopes are man’s own projections of his future.

          But hope is easily deceived and is dangerous. Only a god does not err in his expectations, and men’s ἐλπίδες are uncertain. Man should have regard, not to ἀπεόντα, but to ἐπιχώρια; he should grasp what is παρὰ ποδός. To ἐλπίς which waits on” the uncertain is opposed προμαθέος αἰδώς (Pind. Olymp., 7, 44). In προμάθεια (Pind. Nem., 11, 46) man takes control of the future as he judges and acts on the basis of the present.

          2. There is here something characteristic. In the OT there is no neutral concept of expectation. An expectation is either good or bad and therefore it is either hope or fear. Hope itself is thus differentiated linguistically from fear of the future. Hope as expectation of good is closely linked with trust, and expectation is also yearning, in which the element of patient waiting or fleeing for refuge is emphasised.

          1. The NT concept of hope is essentially determined by the OT. Only where it is a matter of secular hope do we see the element of expectation characteristic of the Gk. world, and always in such a way that it is expectation of something welcome, with no differentiation between ἀγαθή and πονηρὰ ἐλπίς.

          2. If hope is fixed on God, it embraces at once the three elements of expectation of the future, trust, and the patience of waiting. Any one of these aspects may be emphasised. The definition of πίστις as ἐλπιζομένων ὑπόστασιςin Hb. 11:1 is quite in keeping with the OT interrelating of πιστεύειν and ἐλπίζειν (ψ 77:22) and the usage of the LXX, which has ὑπόστασις as well as ἐλπίς (→ 522) for תִּקְוָה (Ez. 19:5; Ju. 1:12)and תּוֹחֶלֶת (ψ 38:7). The certainty of trust in a divinely given future is underlined, and the added ἔλεγχος πραγμάτων οὐ βλεπομένων emphasises further the paradoxical character of this hoping trust to the degree that it cannot count on controllable factors. (TDNT: ἐλπίς, ἐλπίζω, ἀπ-, προελπίζω)

          Let me pick out a snippet of that because it’s crucial:

          Man should have regard, not to ἀπεόντα [what is absent], but to ἐπιχώρια [custom]; he should grasp what is παρὰ ποδός [at his feet]. (Pind. Pyth., 3, 20; 22; 60; 10, 63; Isthm., 8, 13.)

          So instead of trying to latch on to an excellent future which may be far off (Heb 11:13–16), one is supposed to shut up, believe what society does/​says, look down, and git her done. So we can see a huge tension between the way the Greeks were supposed to do things and the way the Hebrews and Christians were supposed to do things. Moving on:

          2. The use of ἐλέγχω in the NT is restricted. In the act. it is almost always used with the acc. of person, and in the pass. it is used also of persons. It means “to show someone his sin and to summon him to repentance.” This may be a private matter between two people, as in Mt. 18:15; Eph. 5:11. But it may also be a congregational affair under the leader, as in the Pastorals: 1 Tm. 5:20; 2 Tm. 4:2; Tt. 1:9, 13; 2:15. It is also the work of the Holy Spirit in the world (Jn. 16:8), of the exalted Christ in the community (Rev. 3:19), and of the Lord in judgment at the parousia (Jd. 15). Jesus says that it cannot possibly apply to Him (Jn. 8:46). In relation to sinful persons or acts, ἐλέγχομαι is the experience of the sinner when faced by the prophet who demands repentance (Lk. 3:19; 1 C. 14:24), by conscience (Jn. 8:9 Kal), by the self-revelation of light (Jn. 3:20; Eph. 5:13), by the divine instruction (Hb. 12:5), or by the Law (Jm. 2:9)

          In Hb. 11:1, in the well-known characterisation of faith, ἔλεγχος means “proof” or “persuasion” rather than correction. But it cannot be taken in the sense of subjective persuasion, since this does not correspond to the usage. To take πραγμάτων as a subj. gen., so that the facts substantiate themselves to faith in spite of their invisibility, is countered by the fact that ἔλεγχος usually takes an obj. gen. Thus we must take πραγμάτων as an obj. gen. The reference is to the presence of an ἔλεγχος, not to the one who achieves it. By adding ἔλεγχος κτλ. to ἐλπιζομένων ὑπόστασις the inner right of resting on the thing hoped for (→ ὑπόστασις) is established. To find the convincing subject in faith, as most of the older exegetes did, endangers the necessary parallelism of ὑπόστασις and ἔλεγχος, and obscures the inner right of the ὑπόστασις. If we are to name a convincing subject, it can only be God, A faith which of itself contained or offered proof of things unseen would not be the faith of Hb., which stands on the revelation, Word and promise of God and has nothing but what it receives. Thus faith is confidence in what is hoped for, since it is the divinely given conviction of things unseen. (TDNT: ἐλέγχω, ἔλεγξις, ἔλεγχος, ἐλεγμός)

          So, that which is lacking—that which doesn’t yet make full sense—used to be shameful, but becomes something which is supposed to convince. And yet, it wouldn’t convince the Greeks—perhaps we could say that anything missing in one’s understanding of reality or of the future is an embarrassment. This makes sense; if no deity is acting or the deities are acting up, one must depend exclusively upon one’s own resources. The author of Hebrews is calling on his readers to accept that:

               (1) there is a better future which awaits you
               (2) how to get from here to there is not fully known
               (3) but we can trust God will continue being trustworthy
               (4) you have to act as if this were true
               (5) by doing so, you’ll be part of (1) coming into existence

          In Gravity and Grace, Simone Weil poetically addresses this tolerance of a gap/​absence/​void:

          Grace fills empty spaces but it can only enter where there is a void to receive it, and it is grace itself which makes this void. (10)

          The imagination is continually at work filling up all the fissures through which grace might pass. (16)

          Every void (not accepted) produces hatred, sourness, bitterness, spite. The evil we wish for that which we hate, and which we imagine, restores the balance. (16)

          The imagination, filler up of the void, is essentially a liar. It does away with the third dimension, for only real objects have three dimensions. It does away with multiple relationships. (20)

          So, Hebrews 11:1 can be read as adjuring its hearers to allow space for God to act. This is known to be painful because lack of intelligibility is painful and there is a worry that God won’t act—prolonging the pain and suffering. We so desperately want to fill the void with “understanding”—and we don’t really care whether it’s real understanding or a just-so story that relieves the tension of not knowing.

          In contrast, there is a tendency to think that this is all there is, all there ever will be, and we just have to live with it. Striving for anything significantly better is shameful, especially if it’ll take multiple generations to come to fruition. Just accept what you’re told and do what you’re told and that will minimize your pain and suffering. Striving is for losers.

          Whew. That was a lot. And Hebrews 11:1 came out looking, well, much less foolish than your source du jour on “what Christians believe”. Or maybe you do think it’s foolish to push toward a significant better reality?

        • Ignorant Amos

          The Jewish holy book is a different book to the Christian holy book. Why should I care what some who writes for the later about the former?

        • Erm, do you have evidence that ThoughtCo is Jewish? Or is your premise that ThoughtCo is secular?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Does that only matter once the human organism is outside of its mother’s womb?

          Yep.

          Does it matter only once the human organism is no longer classified by anyone as ‘parasite’?

          Yep.

          Oh, maybe you’re going to claim that I don’t care about the mother, that I want women to be kept down.

          Yep.

          Well, my only response to that is: is your claim falsifiable, or unfalsifiable? My guess is the latter—based on pretty much every other interaction I have had where that matter came up in any way, shape or form.

          Your anti-abortion, lack of pro-choice is all I need to demonstrate that assertion is accurate.

          Statistically, you care about humans as long as they’re out of the mother and granting the infanticide people some rope, as long as they’re old enough.

          Fuck sake Luke…are you off your meds. I care more about a human that is outside the mother than inside. I care about the mother and her wants and needs. And I’ve no idea what that “infanticide” fuckwittery is all about.

          Before that, as long as you can subjectively convince yourself that they don’t suffer when you exterminate them, it’s A-OK.

          Ah, “subjectively”…word games, your favourite.

          Sacrifice away!

          Define sacrifice first?

          In fact, don’t call it a sacrifice. Call it “excising some tissue”. That’s the way to do it. Jews were “pigs”, Tutsis were “cockroaches”, and fetuses are “tissue”. Dehumanize the life you don’t like, while bitching and moaning about biblical narratives where no life was actually destroyed. I have to say, the almost-sacrifice of Isaac is a wonderful hypocrisy-detector.

          False equivalencies. You can repeat the almost-sacrifice rube as many times as you think it needs to be if it alleviates your guilt. Isaac was a victim. These types of victims are still traumatized and broken, and in many instances, driven to take their lives after the fact. That has as much a massive impact on those around involved as the act itself. You should know that as well as most. The test was a real shitty thing to do. If it makes you feel better by pointing to abortion and my support of pro-choice for women, knock your sell out, but remember, your YahwehJesus is reckoned to be far superior than I…doesn’t look that way from where I’m sitting and it doesn’t look like you think so either.

        • You screwed up the HTML formatting.

        • Ignorant Amos

          No I didn’t…my laptop is doing it’s own thing and posting half composed comments.

          I’ve had it about for months…it is a half decent spec HP and it is the biggest piece of crap laptop I’ve ever owned…and I’ve owned a few.

          The comment should be sorted.

        • Oh fun. Even when it comes to formal systems like electronics and software, we suck balls at understanding dependencies, tracking behavior and noting when it deviates from what is expected, etc. It’s so incredibly easy to do this stuff with modern software & hardware. If we are so terrible when it’s easy and one doesn’t have to deal much with politics … what about in the rest of life? How much disorder and nonsense is lurking there?

        • ildi
        • Isaac was a victim. These types of victims are still traumatized and broken, and in many instances, driven to take their lives after the fact.

          Provide a single instance of a suicide that followed an almost-sacrifice.

          That has as much a massive impact on those around involved as the act itself. You should know that as well as most.

          Why’s that?

          … your YahwehJesus is reckoned to be far superior than I …

          Isaac didn’t die. Unlike millions of humans who get exterminated before they get to take a single breath. (Is this where the Whac-A-Mole starts, where you have to expand beyond the almost-sacrifice narrative to make your point?)

        • Paul B. Lot

          Unlike millions of humans who get exterminated before they get to take a single breath.

          You want us to believe that you believe this?

          Lol

          ETA:

          https://twitter.com/stealthygeek/status/920088083768446976

        • Paul B. Lot

          Lol

        • Ignorant Amos

          I understand why the kibosh wants to be put on the Jephthah yarn…it spoils the plot.

          she might have “faired” rather nicely; but if so it stopped suddenly once she stopped faring well. But now we’re playing Whac-A-Mole and I’m going to put the kibosh on that.

          She didn’t fair well at all, she was given a couple of months to mope about being sacrificed a virgin, and then she was sacrificed. You have a funny notion of someone fairing well.

          If the Israelites were actually struggling to be less terrible than surrounding nations, what you say appears irrelevant (even if partially correct) unless you think humans can become perfect in one day, or see perfection for what it is when they are incredibly flawed. Do you believe either of these things?

          Who says they were struggling to be less terrible than the surrounding nations? Why should I give a shit when they were doing a piss poor job of it? And a lot of the failing in being better people was ascribed to following YahwehJesus’ instructions. But sure we can just ignore all that stuff. If God existed, then no struggling is required. And certainly no God instructions to genocide surrounding nations…ya know the ones ya are endeavouring to be less terrible than.

        • I understand why the kibosh wants to be put on the Jephthah yarn…it spoils the plot.

          Spin whatever narrative you’d like. Apparently there aren’t any rules.

          She didn’t fair well at all, she was given a couple of months to mope about being sacrificed a virgin, and then she was sacrificed. You have a funny notion of someone fairing well.

          fair ≠ fare

          Who says they were struggling to be less terrible than the surrounding nations?

          The most casual of inspections reveals this.

          Why should I give a shit when they were doing a piss poor job of it?

          If it’s revealing of human nature and social nature. Especially if we Enlightened folk try to deny/​ignore those aspects of human and social nature.

          And a lot of the failing in being better people was ascribed to following YahwehJesus’ instructions.

          Do please elaborate—with focus on “a lot”.

          If God existed, then no struggling is required.

          What empirical evidence led you to this belief?

          And certainly no God instructions to genocide surrounding nations…ya know the ones ya are endeavouring to be less terrible than.

          More verbs speaking of expelling were used than verbs speaking of exterminating. If the Nazis had taken that seriously, the world would have been much better off. Or do you disagree?

        • Ignorant Amos

          You are welcome to show where I have presupposed, claimed, or implied that God exists or anything more than that, in any of my arguments on CE. (Otto tried this recently, and so far, has failed.)

          I don’t see what that has to do with anything. God might know everything but we certainly don’t. God might not have to learn anything but we certainly do. God might not be wrong about everything but we certainly are—often.

          For God to do any of those, it must exist.

          Until you do that, what I believe that is not required for my arguments to go through is not necessarily relevant to the conversation.

          If it is the contention that the god of the OT is imaginary, but people believe it exists, then fine. If it is your contention that ALL the stuff in the OT is fiction made up in the minds of humans for a variety of social messages, then fine. You are here contesting atheist arguments from the position of a YahwehJesus believing Christian…of sorts…if that is not your premise for debate, I stand corrected, but perhaps you’ll impart to us exactly where you stand. Until then, we might well infer that you are who we think you are. There’s a guy who comes on here from time to time that states if one is unsure about a position taken, give the most charitable interpretation, or ask for clarification. Since it appears that the position taken is not the most charitable, perhaps you can clarify.

          That’s because I’m disallowed from getting information on what drives others’ thinking, as can be seen by my 5x attempt to understand why Bob or his followers would think three things he mentioned in part 2. (5th attempt) Fair’s fair.

          I can’t answer for what Bob’s thinking was in his terms of phrase. But I think you’ve read too much into it. As usual.

          You’d think that (something) would (do or be something)

          Use this expression when something happens that you don’t understand, and you expected it to be different.

          http://www.phrasemix.com/phrases/youd-think-that-something-would-do-or-be-something

          Luke, you are either a YahwehJesus believing Christian, or you’re not. From all the interactions I’ve seen on the internet involving you I’m running with the former. If it’s erroneous and you want/require/need me to change my view, the onus is upon you to correct my mistake…otherwise, I give zero fucks.

        • Ignorant Amos

          See, we all comment from assumptions, from plausibility structures. The dominant strategy of “skeptics” is to always go on the attack and refuse to be attacked with any intensity, so that their position appears much stronger than it in fact is. “Scratch a skeptic, find a dogmatist.” So, if you want to remain at the level of abstraction, where nobody says what [s]he really believes, at core—then I’ll happily play that game.

          Always? Or is that just your experience? Refuse? Well, you are still here aren’t you?

          You re being dishonest. You’ve been to Strange Notions…a place that was set up with the sole purpose to allow Christians (Catholics mostly) and non-believers (atheists mostly)to debate. Except when the scrutiny from one position got too awkward for the site owner and his sides position couldn’t keep up in both argument and numbers, he too resorted to dishonesty. Was it the atheists fault that the theists at SN were not intense enough in their attacks? It wasn’t the refusal to accept the intensity of the Christian arguments that the atheists couldn’t take, it was the cowardice of that liar Brandon Vogt. We got banned because his experiment was on the verge of blowing up in his face. Jeopardising his underlying purpose for the sites creation.

          I’ve been banned off more than one Christian site when something mundane was taken the wrong way. Yet the believers have been as much, if not more scathing. The atheists have the thicker skin. The theists are the ones who resort to whinging about everything and anything, apart from the topic. That’s because they have the weaker position. Even your “high-brow” theology is not convincing. You have to ignore so much in order to shoehorn it in to fit so much of the philosophical musings. Even your favourite citation at the moment, Created Equal is doing it by focusing on the Pentateuch. The Pentateuch is not the OT.

          The Books of Kings is not about God giving power to the people, it’s about punishing the people fro the Kings shenanigan’s.

          Kings is “history-like” rather than history in the modern sense, mixing legends, folktales, miracle stories and “fictional constructions” in with the annals, and its primary explanation for all that happens is God’s offended sense of what is right; it is therefore more fruitful to read it as theological literature in the form of history. The theological bias is seen in the way it judges each king of Israel on the basis of whether he recognises the authority of the Temple in Jerusalem (none do, and therefore all are “evil”), and each king of Judah on the basis of whether he destroys the “high places” (rivals to the Temple in Jerusalem); it gives only passing mention to important and successful kings like Omri and Jeroboam II and totally ignores one of the most significant events in ancient Israel’s history, the battle of Qarqar.

          Regarding the intensity of the arguments and who can’t take it. I finally got the bullet at Strange Notions for bringing up the story about the legend of Pope Joan and the introduction of the popes sexing chair, the sedia stercoraria. Seriously?

        • Always? Or is that just your experience? Refuse? Well, you are still here aren’t you?

          It’s obviously in my experience. I didn’t quote any scholar making an expert judgment that would extend this past my experience. I also said “dominant strategy”; it isn’t the only one. Nor do all atheists use the dominant strategy all the time. Some are intellectually honest. I’m here mostly to talk to those, and to see if I can get others to drop the strategy for at least a moment.

          LB: See, we all comment from assumptions, from plausibility structures. The dominant strategy of “skeptics” is to always go on the attack and refuse to be attacked with any intensity, so that their position appears much stronger than it in fact is. “Scratch a skeptic, find a dogmatist.” So, if you want to remain at the level of abstraction, where nobody says what [s]he really believes, at core—then I’ll happily play that game.

          IA: You re being dishonest. You’ve been to Strange Notions

          I will have to think about that; I’ve spent vastly more time talking to atheists on websites other than SN, and what is unique about SN post-purge is that the number of theists often outweighs the number of atheists, changing the dynamics. Perhaps what I said is more accurately predicated of the dominant social group.

          We got banned because his experiment was on the verge of blowing up in his face. Jeopardising his underlying purpose for the sites creation.

          I saw the kind of culture created by the banned. Regardless of the ethics of the banning, the outright hostility toward theists was just intense on EN. That hostility alone would probably have jeopardized Brandon’s experiment. And yeah, it comes through in less overt ways when there are moderation rules.

          I’ve been banned off more than one Christian site when something mundane was taken the wrong way. Yet the believers have been as much, if not more scathing. The atheists have the thicker skin.

          Sounds like ingroup–outgroup dynamic and a description of those willing to spend significant time as an outsider. Except that I generally see atheists laying claim to being more intellectually honest than theists. I have yet to see that supported by the evidence. Atheists ignore science whenever it doesn’t support their point of view with the best of them.

          The theists are the ones who resort to whinging about everything and anything, apart from the topic. That’s because they have the weaker position.

          If you’re trying to describe me, you’ll see that with the personal attacks at a minimum, I’m quite happy to stay on-topic … at least on-topic of the constantly drifting threads. I’ve also seen the Whac-A-Mole game played by atheists aplenty, which is just another way of going off-topic. Or maybe the atheist thinks it’s on-topic, in the same way that I think my question of what Bob “would think” is on-topic. As to other theists, I’m not going to believe they’re on average different from atheists without actual data.

          Even your “high-brow” theology is not convincing. You have to ignore so much in order to shoehorn it in to fit so much of the philosophical musings. Even your favourite citation at the moment, Created Equal is doing it by focusing on the Pentateuch. The Pentateuch is not the OT.

          The Books of Kings is not about God giving power to the people, it’s about punishing the people fro the Kings shenanigan’s.

          [To within a sufficient approximation for my present point:] The king’s actions would reflect on Israel’s character as a whole. Just like Trump and Hillary reflected on America’s character as a whole. Our leaders reveal a concentrated form of who we are, with the contradictions resolved or maybe not resolved. Holding the people responsible for the king’s behavior as well as the king was in fact something which would encourage the political maturity of the people.

          Regarding the intensity of the arguments and who can’t take it. I finally got the bullet at Strange Notions for bringing up the story about the legend of Pope Joan and the introduction of the popes sexing chair, the sedia stercoraria. Seriously?

          That has absolutely nothing to do with people who go on the attack and refuse to defend.

        • Ignorant Amos

          If you say so, it must be true.

          Not me. I’m just relaying the thoughts of many scholars.

          How much is not fictional stories in the same way as other religious texts are fictional?

          The Bible, however, is fiction, because, overall, its authors meant it as presentation, not as science, or even as history, which is a form of science with its own scientific rules of evidence. Sometimes they accepted the truth of the stories they used, but sometimes, they did not — Job and Esther describe personalities who never lived, and the authors knew it. Some of it reports historical fact, of course: there was a King David, as there was a Babylonian invasion. There was also a prophet named Isaiah, but his prophecies were included in the Bible to give us lessons of morality not of history. The same is true of Genesis through Deuteronomy, Kings, Judges and all the other books, some of whose characters really lived and some of whom didn’t. It doesn’t matter. Fiction can be chock-full of characters who really lived, with a story line of things they really did – and still be fiction. Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, Ph.D.

          https://blog.lawrenceahoffman.com/2012/05/31/the-bible-is-fiction/

          http://www.gdargaud.net/Humor/Pics/Bible.jpg

        • How much is not fictional stories in the same way as other religious texts are fictional?

          I think we should test the truth-content by seeing what group can best navigate reality and succeed—in the way it measures success—and make judgments based on that. I don’t just mean historically, I mean going forward. If this characterizes a group:

          Our basic thesis—that we are strategically blind to key aspects of our motives—has been around in some form or another for millennia. It’s been put forward not only by poets, playwrights, and philosophers, but also by countless wise old souls, at least when you catch them in private and in the right sort of mood. And yet the thesis still seems to us neglected in scholarly writings; you can read a mountain of books and still miss it. (The Elephant in the Brain, ix)

          —then I’ll bet that group will be rather hindered, although if its deceptions are dominant, others might have to act as if they are real for a time. Power does allow you to define [social] reality, for a time. Fortunately, there appear to be social equivalents of erosion and the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

          Humans are pretty good at being flattering to themselves and unflattering to others. To the extent that a group does this—blaming most of the problems on the Other, for example—I expect they will hamstring their long-term fitness. If the contents of the Bible militate against this pattern, I think that’s quite relevant and worth exploring. You, on the other hand, probably don’t. That’s fine; lets each act the way we think is best and try to convince others it is best as well, and then see which group can out-compete the other.

        • Greg G.

          Do you think they were meant to be entertaining?

          The Gospel of Mark certainly is meant to be entertaining. Mark kept things hopping with events happening immediately. The word “εὐθὲως” with different critical marks is used 40 times for “immediately” in the Textus Receptus while the mGNT uses “εὐθὺς” over 40 times.

          Mark has little, subtle puzzles for the reader to figure out. He used Latinisms and Aramaicisms, usually explaining the Aramaic but never the Latin, indicating that his intended audience knew Latin but not Aramaic. He explains the name “Bartimaeus” and has Jesus start his Gethsemane prayer with “Abba, Father” so the reader knows that Barabbas means “Son of the Father”, setting up the recipe for the Atonement ritual of Leviticus 16:5-22 where one goat is killed for the sins of the people and the other is released into the wilderness. Mark has Jesus get mad at the fig tree, then go to Jerusalem and had his Temple Tantrum, and later, the disciples saw the tree withered. His Roman audience would then be reminded that Jerusalem “withered”, too. When Jesus is on trial, he is being beaten and ordered to “Prophesy!” while Peter is in the courtyard denying him, thus making his earlier prophecy true.

          In Mark 5:9, Jesus meets Legion.

          Mark 5:9 (Textus Receptus)
          καὶ ἐπηρώτα αὐτόν Τί σοι ὄνομά καὶ ἀπεκρίθη λέγων, Λεγεὼν ὄνομά μοι ὅτι πολλοί ἐσμεν

          Mark 5:9 (NIV)
          Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.”

          Mark has created a bilingual visual pun for his readers. The Latin word “legion {Λεγεὼν}” for “a large specific number of soldiers” looks like the Greek word “lego {λέγων}” for “spoke” or “said”. Mark emphasizes the “many” with the word “polys {πολλοί}”. Greek synonyms for “lego” are words with the root “phem-“, as in “blasphemy”. So putting the “polys” with the “phemus” gives us “polyphemus”, which means “famous”, or, literally, “many speak of”. BTW, Polyphemus is the name of the Cyclops in Homer’s Odyssey, which was the most popular piece of literature back then. Polyphemus lived in a cave. Mark has used Psalm 107:10 and Isaiah 65:4 for other language in the Legion story, such as to turn Polyphemus’ sheep into swine the way Circe turned Odysseus’ men into swine.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Depends on how ya read it.

          Have you seen Ricky Gervais doing the story of Noah’s Ark from a children’s book?

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=13&v=Z8dDqX64FRw

          Is there any better source of humour than the Bible and those who believe in its literal truth?

        • Kodie

          I enjoy it, of course, but still not what I’m after. The book itself is a brief summary of the “essential” parts, rewritten. Commentary is on the reader. I’m sure it could be even a little bit fatter with all the adult parts and not be full of deadweight. I mean, how would you compare the bible plain reading to other books for getting through? Keep in mind, I’m not an avid reader. If you’re the kind of person who will read anything with letters in it because you want to know what happened, what’s happening, what is in things, what things are about, all the time, then you’re the opposite of me. I try to imagine someone is saying the words of the bible aloud, and I still maintain, it sounds like trying to get a toddler to spit out the fucking story and get to the point, compared to other books, stories, essays, and whatnot I’ve ever read. You get a 4-year-old trying to tell you something, and you just have to wait until it’s over, because you’re not allowed to walk away or tell them to shut up. I was once waiting for a train, and some parents nearby let their fucking kid come over and talk to me…. and that’s all I never wanted to know about fucking Pokemon for 40 straight minutes. That’s what I think when I try to read the bible when someone mentions a passage I want to know more about, or link to it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I enjoy it, of course, but still not what I’m after.

          I understand what you are getting at, you want the original read to be more entertaining.

          The book itself is a brief summary of the “essential” parts, rewritten. Commentary is on the reader.

          Of course. It isn’t even taken from the original epic. But sure we find that with movies based on books, or even actual history. And sometimes books based on other books too. It’s up to the reader to decide what is entertaining and why, then parse that out. I studied Shakespeare for my “O” Level English Literature in school. Julius Caesar. The thing was broken down and each speech and tract dissected. It was not entertaining. Try saying that out loud. A number of years ago I had a bash at education again, this time I studied Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, the same thing, delving into the minutiae of every line of iambic pentameter…but as an adult wanting to do it on my own time, it was very entertaining indeed.

          I’m sure it could be even a little bit fatter with all the adult parts and not be full of deadweight.

          Of course, the X rated version…I guess that is what the movie is attempting.

          I mean, how would you compare the bible plain reading to other books for getting through?

          As a whole? A mega chore. That’s why very few actually read it. They rely on the cherry-picked version which leaves all the “bad” bits out, which in a lot of cases are the “good” juicy entertaining bits. I’m not saying that the bloody thing is an entertaining read from cover-to-cover, but for me, there are yarns in it that entertain me for a variety of reasons. Not least of which is comical.

          Keep in mind, I’m not an avid reader.

          Me neither. And when I do pick up a book, it is non-fiction. It’ll usually take me a few weeks to get through a book.

          If you’re the kind of person who will read anything with letters in it because you want to know what happened, what’s happening, what is in things, what things are about, all the time, then you’re the opposite of me.

          I am, but very slack about going about it…and my retention skills a very poor. I can usually remember a basic outline, but the detail often alludes me.

          I try to imagine someone is saying the words of the bible aloud, and I still maintain, it sounds like trying to get a toddler to spit out the fucking story and get to the point, compared to other books, stories, essays, and whatnot I’ve ever read.

          Well, I suppose it depends on which version one reads. Also, I’m not claiming it is up there with the best I’ve read, small number of fictions that I can say I’ve read. It’s just that I can get entertaining bits out of it. The story of Job, or the story of Sodom and Gomorrah…including the X rated bits one never got in Sunday school…why did they leave the best stuff out?

          You get a 4-year-old trying to tell you something, and you just have to wait until it’s over, because you’re not allowed to walk away or tell them to shut up. I was once waiting for a train, and some parents nearby let their fucking kid come over and talk to me…. and that’s all I never wanted to know about fucking Pokemon for 40 straight minutes. That’s what I think when I try to read the bible when someone mentions a passage I want to know more about, or link to it.

          Yes, I see what you mean. Having a version of the frigin’ thing written in understandable English laypersons terms, with all the boring pish redacted out…I’m sure there is such a thing somewhere…the nearest I can point to is that Brick Testament a linked to. The Skeptics Annotated Bible is entertaining for the annotations alone…but still, not all of it.

        • Kodie

          Well, people seem to be (superstitiously) married to the original text and attempting a close translation of it, word for word, if possible. This might be what makes it boring in English. Obviously, the stories told/presented live could have elements that make it more lively and interesting. I’m not saying the plots are total shit, just the telling. If someone can make a movie or a play about these stories, surely someone could just rewrite them as faithfully to the plot as they can while editing the writing, like they are telling the same story in their own words.

          Believers want to know exactly what god said, but these are parables to me. Getting the point of what happened and what it’s supposed to mean is the important thing. You and I both seem to appreciate versions like movies or plays. I could probably appreciate the stories if I didn’t have to read them like a “Dick and Jane” book.

        • Ignorant Amos

          No doubt they made better yarns when told around a camp fire by an expert yarn teller, listening while toasting marshmallows, or the ancient equivalent. Just like most stories.

          We used to have a show on telly when I was a young’un growing up, called “Jackanory”, where a celebrity would read a story for full effect…much more entertaining than just picking up the book oneself.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jackanory

        • ildi

          I felt that way about the Harry Potter series. I can’t believe I waded through all those books just to find out what Snape’s big secret was. (Yes, I hate Harry Potter, the school, the four houses, the fact that they go right back to the system that failed them so badly-fight me!)

        • Kodie

          I didn’t read it or watch it. When I was much younger, it would probably be the kind of thing I’d like, but I still probably wouldn’t have read the books.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You don’t think that a God that can do everything, knows everything, perfection itself, but can’t find the only two people in the world in the very garden in which he put them, just a we bit entertaining from the perspective of the author fucking it up?

          Like your comic telling a joke and making a balls of it analogy…the entertainment then becomes the incompetent telling of the joke and the humour is in the schadenfreude of the situation.

          Who was shagging who after the banishment from Eden? There is no thought to this bit. There must have been incest…but no mention of it…the mystery is entertaining from a major fuck up in the story position. The apologetics made up to get around it are even better entertainment.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Even great writers don’t think of everything, which in fact might kill the premise of their story and make the conclusions they want to write toward internally logically impossible.

        • We’re talking about something which apparently falls far short of what other ancients who were trying to write good stories. One possibility is that the ancient Hebrews just sucked at it. Another is that they weren’t trying to just write good stories. For some reason, the second possibility has been generally ignored, and not for any rational reason I can find.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Another is that they weren’t trying to just write good stories. For some reason, the second possibility has been generally ignored, and not for any rational reason I can find.

          Do ya think they were trying to write bad stories?

          When I was being indoctrinated we were taught the Bible as stories, we just weren’t told they weren’t true…I know, child abuse.

          The Bible is one continuous story, from the story of creation to the story of Jesus’ future return at the end of time. And yet there are smaller, pivotal stories that make up the basic structure of the one big story. This class is a series of 52 talks that walk you through the main stories of the Bible, 26 in the Old Testament (the time leading up to Jesus) and 26 in the New Testament (the time of Jesus and beyond). They are geared especially for people who learn better through stories than teaching.

          https://www.biblicaltraining.org/52-major-stories-bible/bill-mounce

          Some believers see it as stories.

          Unless you think they are not stories at all. Are they history? A lot of Abrahamists believe there are lots of metaphor, analogy, and parables in the Bible. What are they, if not stories?

          I didn’t take you for a literalist, Luke.

          Biblical literalism is the theological view that the contents of the Bible should be seen as literally true and “inerrant.” The text is not to be interpreted as allegory, literature, or mythology, and is without fault in its claims; unimpeachably true in all matters. Literalism is the basis of several different pseudoscientific positions, such as young Earth creationism, deluge theory, and geocentrism. Literalism has also been used as the justification for slavery, as well as a justification for racial segregation, Jim Crow laws, and Apartheid (Acts 17:26).

          https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Biblical_literalism

          Which is it, literal or story telling?

        • Do ya think they were trying to write bad stories?

          No.

          When I was being indoctrinated we were taught the Bible as stories, we just weren’t told they weren’t true…I know, child abuse.

          In that case, everyone who teaches the folk theory of democracy is engaging in child abuse. Are you willing to endorse that fully? (For more, we could dive into Democracy for Realists.)

          Some believers see it as stories.

          Bully for them. I’ll bet they also cherry-pick. Kind of like the Jews took Isaiah 53 out of their lectionary. (I just discovered this.)

          Unless you think they are not stories at all. Are they history? A lot of Abrahamists believe there are lots of metaphor, analogy, and parables in the Bible. What are they, if not stories?

          I didn’t take you for a literalist, Luke.

          ¬story ⇏ history

          Given the above, I am most confident that the OT is meant to teach us brutal truths about human and social nature. But not just brutal truths; Genesis 1–2 when compared to Enûma Eliš is pretty cool. Humans as created in the image of God rather than being slaves to the gods? That’s pretty awesome, given:

              We are all aware that we humans didn’t start our career on earth recognizing these [egalitarian] principles. On the contrary early human societies were tightly knit around their own needs and survival, which they sought to fulfill often in rivalry with other groups. Often their name for themselves was simply their word for “human being”, and their name for others sometimes implicitly denied full possession of human properties, like language (e.g., “barbarian”, “niemcy”). We have come through a long, drawn-out process, which includes the Axial revolutions, the great world religions, philosophical developments like Stoicism and the eighteenth-century European Enlightenment(s), and in more recent centuries, the great campaigns against slavery, colonial conquest and exploitation, imperial rule, to this recognition, at least in theory, of universalism. (The Language Animal, 203)

          It always amuses me when people suppose that science has delivered all these awesome things to us while religion has delivered nothing positive [sometimes with the qualification of: on average]. Valuing egalitarianism is not a matter of science and it’s not clear that modern science could exist without some decent approximation of egalitarianism.

          As to actual historicity, I think we should be very careful to examine how that would change things. You can take it in multiple steps: the first one being that starting with “no miracles”, perhaps with the Israelites emerging from the Canaanites. Then one could ask what adding miracles would do. I know lots of atheists’ brains explode at that point, but I would first ask how human and social nature is viewed differently with and without the miracles. We Enlightened folk like to do a lot of, “If only I had all the powers …”-type reasoning and I think that reasoning can be wrong. Apparently I’m fairly rare in thinking that?

          Which is it, literal or story telling?

          It’s False Dichotomy Day.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          A story can be good (familiar/nostalgic, entertaining, thought-provoking, known for its homage of past great works, etc) in the eye of the beholder even acknowledging that it has plot holes one could drive a fleet of semi-trucks through and other authorial fudges that don’t appear to have much thought behind them. Visit TV Tropes, read movie and book reviews, Google ‘plot holes’, watch and read satire, etc. One can think a work good and criticize its deep flaws and shortcomings, too.

        • Sure. And sometimes, people weren’t trying to do the thing they appear to be rather bad at.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Your answer is ambiguous. Explain. Bad at from who’s perspective? It may well be bad from our perspective, but we have a wealth of hindsight the early listeners of these stories did not.

        • Bad in comparison to alternatives on tap at the time.

        • Geoff Edevane

          Replying to your post on steel magnificent. Lies and violence are your weapons. I merely need speak truth and watch things burn.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Sheltering from high velocity weapon fire behind a car door is complete nonsense, but to those that know no better, it seems feasible and sends a dangerously false message. Still, it doesn’t take away from the entertainment value of the overall story. Though pointing the fact out during viewing can piss folk off and spoil the enjoyment.

          Nothing a drop of pixie dust can’t sort out…or as an astute commenter once pointed out…a spoonful of phlebotinum applied to get us by.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Just take a look at Irish Folklore for an example of imaginative fiction told as history…there’s some entertaining storytelling.

          Never mind the devil, I had nightmares about the Banshee.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banshee

        • Bob Jase

          I prefer her sister the bean nighe and her friend Cecil.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bean_nighe

        • Ignorant Amos

          A rose by any other name, smells just as sweet.

          And being of Ulster-Scots heritage, am doubly fecked if they are not the same twat using two Celtic names for the same thing…lol.

          A scary fairy woman and a harbinger of doom…now I’m going to have to drink this whole bottle of gin in order to get to sleep ffs.

    • Greg G.

      Star Wars proves there is nothing new under the suns (plural).

    • Ignorant Amos

      Nordic Saga’s were called that for a reason…a reckon.

    • Carol Lynn

      In Tolkien’s the Silmarillion, the story of the “Children of Hurin” takes 27 pages. The source documents were later published in a separate book and it ended up at 320 pages. If the Bible is the condensed version of the stories/history, after all parchment/paper was expensive and the stories could be condensed and glossed because everyone knew the long, oral versions anyway – they were still pretty crappy, inconsistent storytellers. I understand the urge to completeness, but I would have thought that the editors would have added the sources – they say this in this town, but they say that in that town – when compiling them so as not to be just a hot mess. And how anyone can look at the results of that Biblical condensing and editing and say, ‘yep, inerrant and perfect’ is completely beyond my comprehension.

  • This reminds me of the kind of philosophy which seems practiced by the best scientists:

    Wimsatt’s philosophical position starts with two themes: we are limited beings and the world we try to understand is complex.[13] The problem then is how to build a philosophical world view based on these two themes. For Wimsatt, robustness (e.g., believing that a particular apple exists because we can see it, feel it, smell it, taste it, and hear it crunch when we eat it) is fundamental for accessing what exists in the world. The more we can detect things in multiple ways, the more we are inclined to believe they exist. Closely connected to robustness are the heuristics, which we use to think about the world and are foundational to his epistemology. They are rules of thumb, which can be wrong or biased but tend to work when applied to what is robust in the world.[14] For Wimsatt, questions of realism (i.e., what exists) are not separable from questions of epistemology (i.e., what we can know) and the discovery of what exists.[15] This may appear circular, but it is by evolution that we have evolved multiple ways of detecting things in the world.[14] (WP: William C. Wimsatt § Philosophy)

    When actually investigating reality, one doesn’t get a perfectly coherent set of observations; they are instead messy, full of gaps, riddled with random and systematic error/​bias, and often context-limited in ways we only discover later (e.g. non-relativistic speeds and low gravity). However, if there is enough overlap and not too much error, one can still make key discoveries which lay a foundation for deeper understanding (ranging from refinement to overturning).

    It’s fascinating that while the above is 100% acceptable for doing science, somehow things have to be purer and cleaner when understanding God—else he cannot possibly exist. I fully understand that literalistic, simplistic fundamentalism (a product of the Enlightenment, not existing before) leads to such thinking. However, this kind of fundamentalism has been shown to be empirically inadequate. Why then do we presuppose that if God exists, he must exist as the fundamentalist believes? That seems to be the least evidence-based belief imaginable.

    If there is any divine action in the OT, it is one of taking people from where they’re at—in all its messiness—and convincing/​goading them toward something better. Take for example Enûma Eliš vs. Genesis 1–3. There are a lot of similarities. Without those similarities, Genesis 1–3 would probably have been incomprehensible. But what about the differences? The Babylonians believed the world was created through violence; the Hebrews through peace. The Babylonians saw humans as slaves of the gods; the Hebrews saw humans as created in the image of God. Just these two differences seem monumental, and yet we gloss over them (probably because we Westerners have so internalized the Hebrew vision).

    Now to YHWH’s repeated promises. Could it be that the idea of getting a free lunch from deity was so shocking that repetition was required to fully absorb it? Take for example the ritual repetition of suzerainty treaties with a twist in Genesis 15: while the standard was for both suzerain and vassal to walk through the animals split in half (let this be done to the one who violates the treaty), only YHWH moves through the animals. This makes no sense. Why would the more powerful party demand nothing of the less powerful party? YHWH was going to give the Promised Land to Abraham’s descendants no matter what. They wouldn’t get to stay if they did things which result in a fractured, weakened jumble of tribes, but the initial gift was guaranteed. In contrast, Aristotle insisted that a good man could not be the friend of a bad man, and thus charity to those who were not deserving is immoral. It was wrong to even make wagers on those who are not promising—thus making the Greek understanding of ‘charity’ so different from the Jewish and Christian understandings that one should probably use different words.

    Just like with bleeding edge science, coming to an understanding of God which greatly differs from previous understandings is going to be really messy business. Significant repetition is going to be required and the initial data—when one is on the cusp of coming to a new understanding—is probably going to look rather disgusting. For example:

    https://imgur.com/kffZbn4

    This is also how we come to know other people and especially, how they are not like us. It’s a messy process involving a lot of log-and-speck errors. A lot of the other person appearing stupid is one’s own thinking that [s]he thinks just like me when the allowed variety of thinking which leads to empirical competence is not so narrow after all. (Against Method, ahoy!) We’re so bad at this these days that books like The Lost Art of Listening are desperately needed. Jesus’ repeated “He who has ears, let him hear!” becomes more profound if we realize that humans are really good at shutting themselves off from the world being rather different/​more than currently believed.

    But no, let’s complain that we need more evidence combined with less repetition to be convinced that God exists. That makes perfect sense. (And no, a single piece of evidence won’t convince anyone of jack when it comes to God existing.) Maybe God is waiting for us to be less flagrantly incoherent (while we profess good epistemology and moral righteousness). But no, because “light bulbs work”, what we’re doing is just fine and the problem is 100% God [who does not exist, obviously].

    • ildi

      “When actually investigating reality, one doesn’t get a perfectly coherent set of observations; they are instead messy, full of gaps, riddled with random and systematic error/​bias, and often context-limited in ways we only discover later (e.g. non-relativistic speeds and low gravity). However, if there is enough overlap and not too much error, one can still make key discoveries which lay a foundation for deeper understanding (ranging from refinement to overturning).

      It’s fascinating that while the above is 100% acceptable for doing science, somehow things have to be purer and cleaner when understanding God—else he cannot possibly exist. [yada yada yada with chart]”

      I don’t know why this is such a difficult concept for you to grasp, but there isn’t a Chinese science, or Indian science, or Middle Eastern science, or European science. There’s just science. One cannot say the same for the myriad versions of gods that people believe in, usually based on the gods of their families and cultures, who seem to have only one thing common-they exist in the realm of the supernatural. So quit pivoting from “atheists set different standards for god-belief-boo!” to why you’re convinced there’s evidence for the Yahweh/Jesus/ghost god(s) version.

      • I don’t know why this is such a difficult concept for you to grasp, but there isn’t a Chinese science, or Indian science, or Middle Eastern science, or European science. There’s just science.

        LOL (feel free to skip to “the precision, clarity, and consensus”)

        One cannot say the same for the myriad versions of gods that people believe in …

        Actually, when matters of agency and normativity matter in the subject area of the science, you can.

        So quit pivoting from “atheists set different standards for god-belief-boo!” to why you’re convinced there’s evidence for the Yahweh/Jesus/ghost god(s) version.

        I’ll do that as soon as others quit pivoting from successes in the hard sciences (where agency and normativity do not matter … as much) to the social sciences (where agency and normativity are paramount). Oh, and “100% subjective” ∼ “supernatural”, as “100% subjective” ⇒ the answer to Are there laws which govern minds? = “no”.

        • ildi

          Work on it some more and maybe eventually you’ll get it.

        • I doubt it. And by “it”, I mean you having a valid point.

  • SparklingMoon,

    “I will make you very fruitful. . . . I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you.”
    ———————————————————————————————–
    Early chapters of the Bible are revelation of prophet Moses(as) and he and his followers (the people of Israel) had been informed by God Almighty not only about past and previous prophets but also about future and next coming prophets. The existed Old Testament does not possess exactly the same Words of God Almighty as had been revealed to prophet Moses(as) . It is a fact that later coming followers added their own words and explanations in this revelation but a reader can find revealed words that proved their truth by the test of time. We read in the Bible that God Almighty made many promises with prophet Abraham(as) and with his seed:

    ”And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing … and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed ”(Genesis 12:2-3).

    God Almighty says about both sons of Abraham; Ishmael and Isaac (Genesis 17:20-22): ”And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee (refers to Abraham’s prayer in Genesis 17:18—“O that Ishmael might live before thee”): Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year. And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham”.

    And we also read in the Bible about external sign of this covenant of spiritual blessings that is the practice of circumcision: (Genesis 17:9-11): ”And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou,and thy seed after thee in their generations. This is my covenant which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man-child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin;and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.

    From these quotations it is obvious that Abraham had promise for his both sons, Ishmael and Isaac, Ishmael being the elder and Isaac the younger. (Genesis 21:21):” And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran: and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt”. God promised Abraham that He would multiply and bless his progeny. The land of Canaan was given over to the sons of Abraham, and that the external sign of the covenant which God made with Abraham was circumcision of all males. All these promises were fulfilled. The progeny of Isaac multiplied exceedingly. From among them arose the great Prophets like Moses, David, Ezekiel, Daniel and Jesus etc.. For two thousand years the people of Israel ruled over Canaan. Their hold on it was never really abolished, though for a short time it became weak.

    After the seventh century A.D., however, the sons of Isaac, and those who observed the letter of the Law of Moses had to withdraw from Canaan. The sons of Ishmael, instead, became its political as well as its spiritual leaders. The fact that the sons of Israel had to surrender the land of Canaan shows the time of the fulfilment of the other promise (which God had made with Abraham about his son other Ishmael) started by the advent of Prophet of Islam and his revelation. He was descendant of Abraham from Ismael.

    This covenant of spiritual Blessing of God, in its first part, was confine to the generation of Isaac but after prophet of Islam it had become universal through the progeny of Ismail . The other part of the covenant of God Almighty He made with Abraham : ”and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed ”(Genesis 12:3) started in the person of Mohammad (prophet of Islam). He was descendant of Abraham (from Ismael) and he was given a universal message for all mankind.

    This covenant of God to Abraham that all nations of the world will be blessed through his generation fulfilled through the universal revelation of the Quran. Its message calls all nations to its message as Prophet of Islam was ordered by God Almighty: ( Quran 7:159): ”Say, ‘O mankind! truly I am a Messenger to you all from Allah to Whom belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth. There is no God but He. He gives life, and He causes death. So believe in Allah and His Messenger, the Prophet, the Immaculate one, who believes in Allah and His words; and follow him that you may be rightly guided.”

    This promise of spiritual blessing of Abraham after the advent of Islam became universal and circumcision ; the external sign of receiving spiritual blessings was also adopted by all nations of the world who accepted Islam. It is the reason that all followers of Islam in the whole world who belong to different nations also practice circumcision as a religious practice to follow the order of God Almighty that he gave to prophet Abraham.

  • Orange East Yellow

    Even the Biblical story of creation of Adam and Eve is not the starting point. There is a godly back-story to that too. Zoroastrianism religion is even more ancient than Judaism. Many of the most important concepts of Judiaism, (and all other Abrahamic faiths) are similar to Zoroastrian religious concepts, and the roots of these concepts can be seen in Zoroastrian concepts. So, the biblical stories are themselves a reboot of Zoroastrianism. Nobody seems to have guessed the reason for so many reboots. My guess is that some clever people figure out the benefits of starting a new religion. They want to get a share of the tithe, and bypass the existing priests by starting a new religion, and stake claim to all the tithe and other associated benefits (power, prestige, loyalty, etc.).