Together, people of varied beliefs will read the King James Bible.
Wow, dude, there's so much to say about this part of the Bible beyond just "Take my daughters, please" For one thing, I love the whole part where Abraham bargains with the angels about how many righteous men there have to be in the city before it's destroyed. And I love the images of hedonism in Sodom & Gomorrah. Then there's his wife failure to follow instructions and getting nuked into a pillar of salt (I could never figure out the logistics until I saw the movie, The Bible). And then, even stranger than Lot's willingness to give away his daughters to save his own neck is the part where, after they survive the destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah, the daughters find themselves in a neighborhood with too few good men, so they get their dad drunk & have sex with him so they can produce offspring. To me, that is the most radically interesting part of the entire story.
Jude, I agree. I just needed a catchy title!
There's that whole disturbing part about Lot being (essentially) raped by his daughters. Even if raping is too harsh a description (though getting someone drunk beyond the point of thinking 'having sex with your daughters is a bad idea'), it's a very disturbing account of incest.It's odd how he (Lot) can still be revered later on in the book (2 Peter for example) after all of this.
"And Lot's wife, of course, was told not to look back where all those people and their homes had been. But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human." - Kurt Vonnegut
You have Lot surviving who tried to give his daughters away to a group of men wanting sex. Then you have his daughters who are willing to knowingly rape their father over two nights. These are the types of people God would allow to be saved?
I suspect the story of Lot's daughters having children by their father was a slur aimed at the Moabites and Ammonites who were traditional enemies of Israel and Judah. It is a pity we don't have the myths the Moabites and Ammonites created for comparison with the Bible. In chapter 20 note the second story of Abraham passing off Sarah as his sister. Note also that Sarah is Abraham's half sister (same father, different mother).
@Erp: I like OT scholar Amy-Jill Levine's paraphrasing of what the Israelites are saying with this story: "We recognize these people as part of the family, but we still want to call them incestuous bastards."
I guess I was premature mentioning it in the last post, but Judges 19 contains a nearly identical story with a very different ending.The main difference is that the Judges story contains no supernatural element: no angels, and no god to rain down justice. (I'd argue it's all the more tragic for that.) I'd never heard of the story until I stumbled upon it and I'm surprised it's not better known.
I am interested in Lot's wife becoming a pillar of salt. Was it their way of saying she turned to ash? Or is there a cultural significance?Could it be that Lot or more likely his daughters were not intended to be understood as actual individuals? Rather, they could have been small groups/tribes. Perhaps it was a story told to explain the origins of the Moabites and the Ammon's as well as their relation to Lot and Abraham.
19:14 And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughtersEarlier he told the mob that his daughters were virgins. Did he lie to the mob or did he have other daughters?Also, I am surprised that Lot's wife only gets one verse about turning into a pillar of salt. I have heard so much analysis of this story and I assumed that there was more to base it all on.
bananacat1---When you look at some other translations besides the King James, it's often rendered as "betrothed" or "which were to marry" his daughters, which gives the sense of impending marriage. Possibly had entered into the contract, but hadn't closed the deal, of marriage. The other possibility is what you mention: more daughters that don't get out.
bananacat1, I too am constantly surprised how brief these popular stories are when I actually read them. The story of Cain ad Abel is so brief with little detail, but it is known by everyone.
In GEN 19:32-38 we learn that incestuos daughter are rewarded with children that grow up to be leaders of new tribes.In GEN 20:12 we learn that sara is abraham's half sister.
The connection with Judges 19 bears repeating, as it has weight for other parts of the Bible. Sodom/Gomorrah is viewed in an archetypal manner, signifying the depths to which human evil can fall. A couple examples:In Judges 19, Israel has become like Sodom in the rape and murder of a priest's concubine/prostitute (the literary allusion is impossible to miss). Traditionally ~1100 BCE, critically ~600 BCE. In Jeremiah 23, a prophet (speaking for Yahweh) declares that Israel has become "like" S/G before Yahweh. Like they're dead to him, or he's disowned them. Traditionally ~600 BCE, a little bit later for critical scholars. In Matthew 10-11, Jesus states that it will be "better off" for Sodom than for various cities and people in first century Palestine who reject Jesus' teaching. Why that's the case requires extended explanation, and there's opinions galore (as there is on any of this). Viewing the literary allusions and trying to see the texts as a literary whole (while acknowledging a level of redaction) is an interesting way to do this. Even for critical scholars, there's a remarkable cohesiveness across centuries. I'm looking forward to seeing more posts and discussion.
The story of Sodom and Gomorrah shows the depravity of every human being. This should be no surprise when you consider what Paul writes in Romans 1:21-32. Abraham's pleading on behalf of the righteous in the city demonstrates his compassion for people. Throughout the Old Testament, God has always had a remnant of people that were faithful to him. Lot's behavior to give away his daughters to the pressing crowd is unconscionable. Yet here is the beauty of the gospel of Jesus Christ. You will never find a Christian that is perfect! Take David for example ("a man after God's own heart"): he committed adultery, deception, and murder. Yet after these things, when confronted by his sin, he repented (Psalm 51).The hope for Christians is that they do not have to be perfect people - they just need a perfect Savior (Jesus).Lot's wife died because she was attached (not willing to give up) to the life she had in Sodom and Gomorrah and God exercised his perfect justice on her. The truth is that everyone of us deserves God's wrath and judgment (Ephesians 2:1-3) yet God sent his son, Jesus, to take that judgment and wrath upon sin on our behalf.**Here are my observations of this blog after having read through the first entries. There is no willingness to search out the Scriptures for understanding - this is simply a blog against Christianity and God's Word. My encouragement is to take an honest look beyond a superficial reading of the text. Involve a believer who actually has an idea what the Bible is talking about and include him/her in the conversation. It may take longer to work through the Bible but I can assure you that you and your readers will get a lot more out of it!
"In GEN 19:32-38 we learn that incestuos daughter are rewarded with children that grow up to be leaders of new tribes."Exactly! Which tribes? The Moabites and the Ammonites. Both were rivals of the Isrealites. This story establishes that the founders of those tribes were born of incest! A nice bit of slander for the neighbors.This is the story of a tribe of people and how they fit into the world. Some are good and some are bad. The focus on lineage is important because it is the basis for the social and political structures of the Israelites.
@michael: (Again Bruce, correct me if I'm wrong) The purpose of this blog is stated clearly at the top of the page. It's one guy (an atheist and skeptic) who has decided to read the King James Bible in a year and invite others to read along. The idea is that the commenters are all from different religious backgrounds and all have different levels of familiarity with the Bible and therefore the comments are quite diverse (as presumably hoped for). It might not be the blog you would set up, but many of us are enjoying the diversity. If you feel some commenters need the input of a well-informed believer, that's where you come in so please stay; But remember that not every non-Christian is a failed attempt at being a Christian.
The sin of Sodom and Gomorrah is not homosexuality (would it have changed things one iota if the angels were female?) but cruelty to others whether strangers or even to each other (the prophets that mention Sodom tend to talk about them oppressing the poor, etc.). It is only much later that people said it was homosexuality (not even rape) and coined the word sodomite.
Concerning Lot. His behavior in this story is righteous. To protect his guests, the two angels, he was willing to sacrifice his own daughters. When the angels tell him he must leave immediately he tries to rouse the household but his sons laugh at him and they don't leave until dawn. Lot's wife was a fool. The angels warned her what would happen. We know at this point that the elemental destructive power God will manifest is indiscriminate - that's why God sent the angels after Abraham's urging in GEN 18.Of course his daughters get him drunk and have incestuous get! His sons are disrespectful, his daughters are wicked, and his wife is either foolish or disobedient (depending on how you look at it), and his neighbors were so wicked they tried to abuse the angels. Lot himself though is more or less above reproach.P.S. Between Noah and Lot it seems clear that it was OK to get your drink on.
(First comment, though I've been reading along. Hello!)@Jude - Oh, but it gets better. Abraham argues with God Himself, not merely some angels. (The exchange starts at Gen. 18:26.) God can, apparently, be bargained with. To save human life. Which God, apparently, is not interested in doing unless bargained with.Also, I seem to remember reading somewhere that was not the Bible that Lot had two daughters who were married and two who weren't. The married ones stayed with the sons-in-law who mocked Lot when he told them to GTFO, while Lot took his wife and the two unmarried ones. But the only possible evidence for that interpretation that I see in the text is Gen. 19:15, "...the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here..." The "which are here" could refer to the two unmarried ones who are still at home (and who just got offered up for gang rape). Or not.Continuity Question: Why was Ham (or Canaan, via Ham) punished for merely getting a glimpse of his passed-out-drunk-naked father, but Lot's daughters aren't punished for actually committing rape and incest with their passed-out-drunk-naked-father?
"Lot's wife died because she was attached (not willing to give up) to the life she had in Sodom and Gomorrah and God exercised his perfect justice on her."The Bible does not say this. This is your interpretation of it. You absolutely cannot conclude this from one small verse. The Bible makes one ambiguous statement, and you added the rest yourself.
I don't remember who (maybe Bart Ehrman?) but someone has suggested that what happens in Gen. 19 and Judges 19 has to do with ancient near-eastern conventions of hospitality. Apparently when a traveling stranger seeks refuge in your home, it is your paramount duty to take care of their every need and protect them. I little overboard here, I think.Still, straining every bit of my being to avoid cultural chauvinism, and taking into account any possible interpretation bounded only by imagination, I have to say that offering up your daughters to be gang raped is seriously, seriously, seeeeeeeriously F'd up! This story is nauseating. The repeating of the story could certainly be intended by the authors of Judges to draw a parallel to Sodom (as vizaviz points out), or it could be another case (like the wife/sister ruse of Abraham/Isaac) of different versions of the same common oral history story both making it into the Bible from different sources. Kind of like variation on a theme. Either way, a fascinating bit of insight into a very ancient culture.
@Raven: We see throughout the Bible that God saves people that we might think are unworthy--but we forget that Christianity isn't about our actions but about His. If we read the Bible as a guide to morality, we're missing the point.
@Brian: The explanation you mentioned - that hospitality was so sacred that it would be a lesser evil to allow one's own daughters to be raped than to allow your guests to be hurt - has been put forth in other places, as well. I've found it in at least two study Bibles published in recent years.@Doug: Hmm, I always thought that the things which happen to Noah and certainly to Lot showed that getting drunk was a bad idea! That seems to be more of a thread in the Bible, for sure: there are multiple verses elsewhere in the Bible, specifically Proverbs and Isaiah, that talk about drunkenness while implying that it is a sin. (Not the drinking, just the getting drunk.) And certainly the consequences of Lot's drunkenness, at least, can be easily argued as less than desirable for him.---In general, I really do think this story has been grossly misinterpreted by Christians. When it is referred to elsewhere in the Bible (which only happens a couple of times) and the sin is mentioned, it is always inhospitality which is considered their horrible sin. Jude verse 7 is the only place in the Bible (as far as I know) which attributes sexual sin to Sodom and Gomorrah, and it does not specify homosexuality - my NLT translates it as "immorality and every kind of sexual perversion."
@Brian: The explanation you give about hospitality being so sacred is great. But I think the fact that Lots attempted to trade his two daughters for the two guests, rather than himself, shows that the bible looks at women as less than men. From a historical and social standpoint this is right in line with the thinking of the time.I am a non believer, so I have a question for any Christians reading this. Seeing how social standards have changed, and main line Christianity no longer places women on a lower step than men, when you read a verse or chapter like this how do you rectify this disconnect?
It is important to keep in mind that many things in the Bible are recorded but not condoned. Basically, its presence in Scripture is not an endorsement.
@Eddie Christianity has never placed women on a "lower step." Men and women have always been seen as having different roles but not one as being better or more important than the other.
@Michael, when you say "a superficial reading of the text" it seems to me that you mean a reading that doesn't come from a faith-based perspective. Many of the commenters are delving very deeply into the text, attempting to understand the social, political and religious landscape that produced such remarkable stories. Of course, sometimes someone will say "God did X - that's so evil!" But if your response is "well they were all evil so God punished them" you miss the opportunity to give us non-theists insight into how you deal with the more difficult passages in the Bible from a theist perspective. I do have to agree with others who've said that nowhere does the Bible say that Lot's wife was wicked. God was raining fire and brimstone down on the city where her neighbors lived, where her own two daughters lived (and they didn't really have any choice about staying with their husbands), she could have looked back for any number of reasons. It could have been grief, to commemorate the passing of her daughters. It could have even been involuntary because of the big noise of what was happening. It does seem like an extreme punishment for a head-turn.@dspratlin, I have to say that "different roles but not as one being better or more important than the other" sounds good, but generally you find that the male roles are running things, leading, making final decisions, while the female roles are cooking, cleaning and obeying. If men and women are equal why are women told over and over in the bible to obey men? It all sounds a lot like "separate but equal" and we know how that turned out.
@dspratlin: We are early in the reading and I must admit it's been over 10 years since I last read the bible from cover to cover, but I believe there are many writings that seem to suggest that women are less. By different roles do you mean, to paraphrase, that women belong barefoot in the kitchen? I believe many women would look at that as being less.Just as a few simple examples:Why is it that god only chooses men to be prophets?Earlier in Genesis where the book is describing the lineages, why are the vast majority of births mentioned only men?Eve is the character who brings on original sin.Here it seems acceptable in gods eyes to offer your two daughters up for rape.
Lot's wife died because she disobeyed a direct commandment from God given through the angels, His messengers, who speak with His authority. It was the same sin that got Adam and Eve kicked out of Eden.@Eddie - both Adam and Eve sinned. Eve took the fruit first and Adam, as covenant head of the family, stood by and did nothing.Genesis is a patriarchal book, I would say this is partly because of men being the head of the household. Also, this brings out another aspect from ch3 where God says that the woman's offspring shall crush the serpents head. Every genealogy in Genesis has someone as the son of a male (no mother listed), yet God speaks only to the woman in that part of ch3.The Bible often describes the wickedness of man. This shows God's great mercy - how could it be grace if they deserved it? There is a parable told by Jesus in the NT: two people owe a man money, one 50 days wages and the other 500. The man forgives them both - who would love him more? The one who owed 500. This is very important in revealing God's character and sets the stage for something He will bring about much later. We owe God far greater than 500 days wages and He is willing to forgive, but at the same time He is just - that 500 days wages had to be paid by someone.
To quote the musical "Hair":SodomyFellatioCunnilingusPederastyFather, why do these words sound so nasty?MasturbationCan be funJoin the holy orgyKama SutraEveryone!
@hdauria The difference is in function not in importance. Christians believe that men and women have clearly defined gender roles. The man is tasked with leading and providing for his family (among other things) while the woman is tasked with raising up children and keeping the household in order (among other things). That is not to say that roles don't overlap in some situations. These are principles, not hard and fast, "no gray area" teachings.As to submission, Bruce will eventually get to this but Ephesians 5:22-33 reads:"Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband."Grammatically, “submitting” is a participle in Greek and is dependent on the verb in v. 15. It explains further how to walk in wisdom (vv. 15–21 are one long sentence in Greek). It also states a general principle of submission, which is illustrated in Eph. 5:22–6:9. What Paul meant by submitting “to one another” is explained through the particular examples of family relations (5:22–6:4), so it is likely that submitting to one another means “submitting to others according to the authority and order established by God,” as reflected in the examples that Paul gives in the following verses.The submission of wives is not like the obedience children owe parents, nor does this text command all women to submit to all men ("to your own husbands", not to all husbands!). Both genders are equally created in God's image (Gen. 1:26–28) and heirs together of eternal life (Gal. 3:28–29). This submission is in deference to the ultimate leadership of the husband for the health and harmonious working of the marriage relationship.On another note, if our society finds the role that the man is to have as being somehow better than the woman's I believe that says more about our society and less about Christian teaching.I apologize in advance for being longwinded. I appreciate all sincere comments though :-)--Daniel Spratlinwww.danielspratlin.com
@Eddie "By different roles do you mean, to paraphrase, that women belong barefoot in the kitchen?"No, I see that as an unfair caricature of the position of orthodox Christianity. It was Christianity that brought women "up in the world" and out of the proverbial kitchen."Why is it that god only chooses men to be prophets?"While the role of a prophet is an authoritative and teaching one and, therefore, restricted to men, there are some exceptions to that rule. Miriam (Ex. 15) and Deborah (Jdgs. 4) are two examples of female prophets seen in special circumstances."Earlier in Genesis where the book is describing the lineages, why are the vast majority of births mentioned only men?"Men were the ones who carried a family's name (much like in our society today). It would only make sense to list the male lineage."Eve is the character who brings on original sin."While Eve was deceived by the serpent, it was not she that brought sin into the world but Adam, who sinned willingly as Romans 5 tells us. These verses also show that Adam had a leadership role with respect to the human race that Eve did not have, for even though Eve sinned by eating the forbidden fruit before Adam did so (Gen. 3:6), it was “one man's trespass,” that is, Adam's sin, through which “sin came into the world” (Rom. 5:12) and through which “many died” (v. 15), “death reigned” (v. 17), and “many were made sinners” (v. 19)."Here it seems acceptable in gods eyes to offer your two daughters up for rape."As I've said in my previous comments, just because something is recorded in Scripture does not mean it is condoned.--Daniel Spratlinwww.danielspratlin.com
@bananacat1 & Bruce: I too am surprised at the brief detail-free treatment some of these well-known stories get in the Bible itself. Perhaps since the Bible is key to the entire Western Canon of literature, many of these have been further developed by later writers, pastiche-style (like John Milton building on the garden narrative in Paradise Lost).@Eddie: Good points. I also think it will be interesting to pay attention to how women are treated when we get to the law sections of Leviticus, Deuteronomy and Numbers.@dspratlin: I'm curious in what sense you mean Christianity "has never" placed women lower. I'm sure you're not suggesting that the history of Christianity is free of sexism.
@Eddie There are several female prophets in both the OT and the NT. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prophets_of_ChristianityWith regard to Lot's daughters, they weren't raped and his offer is a sacrifice to save the angels. Guest-right and the treatment of strangers was a big deal to in this part of the ancient world. Here is a discussion of the Greek traditions regarding guest-right. http://www.crowdog.net/hospitality.html@Hannah Fair enough, but it does appear to be unworthy of the wrath of God. Perhaps better to say that the consequences are paid by the family of the drunk daddy. ;)
@Brian Hitt Christianity, as revealed in the Bible, does not promote one sex as better than another.Christians (actual and otherwise) have been and are guilty of doing this throughout history though. This is the fault of man, not of the teachings found in Scripture.
@Daniel: I'm suppose I'm just hesitant to accept that by declaring a particular role not to be low-status we can make it so. I find the imposition of gender roles to be anathema to equality. It's simply a personal value judgment and certainly not the majority view, I realize.
This struck me as interesting. What do you guys think? In Chapter 20 we see the second iteration of the wife/sister ruse and God tells Abimelech that he's going to kill him because Sarah is another man's husband in verse 3. Bimmy (friends call him) pleads his case in 4-5 and God seems to give in (after all, Bimmy didn't know she was married. It was Abraham's lie). Is Abraham not special in these chapters for being able to argue with God? Can anyone do it? Also, after saying Abimelech is off the hook, God closes the wombs of his house as a punishment. Does he find Abimelech culpable or not?
@Brian Let's not confuse ontological equality with functional equality.I understand that the idea of gender roles is frowned upon in some parts of society but keep in mind that these roles that I am referring to are found in Christian society. A wholly separate set of rules is given to Christians.While I don't hold non-Christians to this standard, I would hope that through open and honest dialog, they would come to understand our perspective regardless of their view of it.Let me define my view (commonly called complementarianism) again to you in another way. Complementarianism believes that men and women are equal in the sense that they bear God's image equally. But it is further believed that this male/female equality as image bearers is not incompatible with male/female distinctions in design and roles. Thus, male headship in family and church is not a contradiction to that fundamental equality. And by male headship, I simply mean that in the partnership of two spiritually equal human beings, man and woman; the man, the husband, bears the primary responsibility to lead the partnership in a God-glorifying direction. The model of that headship is, of course, the Lord Jesus Himself, the head of the Church who gave Himself for us. The antitheses of that kind of godly, spiritual male headship actually go in two directions. On the one hand, it would be a self-centered domination by the husband of the wife. On the other hand, it might be a self-centered passivity on the part of the husband refusing to take responsibility for those things that God has entrusted to him spiritually. Male domination, by male domination I mean the bold assertion of man's will over woman's will heedless of her spiritual equality, her best interests, and her values.
I understand that the idea of gender roles is frowned upon in some parts of society but keep in mind that these roles that I am referring to are found in Christian society. A wholly separate set of rules is given to Christians.By no means does your conception of Christian morality encompass all Christianity. No religion is a monolithic being.Lots of different denominations derive their varying beliefs from the same book. There is not one Christianity with one set of morals.
@Brian Abimelech's actions place in jeopardy the fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham that Sarah will bear him a son. Closely resembling the earlier taking of Sarah by Pharaoh (12:10–20), this account presupposes the reader's knowledge of that event.God intervenes to ensure that Abimelech does not touch Sarah. In contrast to 12:10–20, this episode emphasizes in a variety of ways the important point that Sarah has not had intercourse with the king; otherwise, Abimelech could be the father of the son born to Sarah in 21:1–3. As is often the case throughout Genesis dreams are often used as a medium of divine revelation (see 28:12; 31:10–11; 37:5–9; 40:5–8; 41:1).Abraham is the first person in the Bible to be designated a prophet. In this context, attention is drawn to his ability to intercede on behalf of others, one of the characteristics of a great prophet (Jer. 15:1); cf. his actions in Gen. 18:22–33.
@betterthanesdras "By no means does your conception of Christian morality encompass all Christianity. No religion is a monolithic being."Quite the contrary. Christianity has affirmed the complementarian roles for 2,000 years. Christianity is not relative or subjective, just like no truth is relative or subjective."Lots of different denominations derive their varying beliefs from the same book. There is not one Christianity with one set of morals."Sure there is. The differences found in denominations stem from man's fallen nature. The fact still remains that there is truth and we can know it.The existence of different views is not proof of no standard. There were many different opinions regarding the morality of slavery, does that then mean that there was no correct view?
@esdras: I know you're interested in source criticism, so here's a bit I found cool. Robert Oden points to Gen. 20 as a spot where knowing sources is particularly helpful. As you posted earlier, this is from E (Norhtern kingdom) and the other two wife/sister stories are from J (Southern kingdom). (For those not familiar, Bible scholars have used a number of clever methods to elucidate at least 4 sources that this part of the Hebrew Bible was compiled from, termed J, E, P, and D)Reading through just J, no characters repeat: Abraham/Sarah + Pharaoh, Isaac/Rebecca + Abimelech. It's only when you add the story of Abraham/Rebecca + Abimelech from the E source that all three of these characters repeat. The OT editors are apparently pretty unique among writers of confessional histories in being inclusive with their literature rather than edit for the purpose of smoothing out the narrative, and how awesome is that for those of us reading in present day, having more to understand their culture and worldview by?
@DanielSpratlin: "There were many different opinions regarding the morality of slavery, does that then mean that there was no correct view?"Absolutely not - slavery is morally abhorrent and always has been. It does show, however, that the bible was ineffective in communicating this moral standpoint for over 1500 years."As I've said in my previous comments, just because something is recorded in Scripture does not mean it is condoned." This strikes me as an awfully easy 'out'.
@David "It does show, however, that the bible was ineffective in communicating this moral standpoint for over 1500 years."So because chattel slavery (wholly different from the slavery referred to in Scripture) occurred for so long, the Bible must be to blame? This seems to be a non sequitur.Let's not forget that it was Christians who led the charge to abolish slavery. Let's also keep in mind that the Bible is not a book written to correct evils in the world."This strikes me as an awfully easy 'out'. "The only way it could seem like that is if you read the Bible differently than you read any other piece of literature. When you read a book on Nazi Germany, do you believe the author to be a Nazi sympathizer? Does recording an event make the author morally culpable for said event? Is the author endorsing said event merely by describing it? You seem to believe so.Or perhaps you just aren't satisfied with my answer. Is that a deficiency on my part or your's?
"God intervenes to ensure that Abimelech does not touch Sarah."And thereby undermines pretty much any theodicy I've ever heard.http://agnostichicagokie.blogspot.com/2011/01/genesis-20-theodicy-fail.html
"When you read a book on Nazi Germany, do you believe the author to be a Nazi sympathizer?"If the author repeatedly praises Goebbels and Himmler as upstanding and righteous, yes I do.
@Damion I'm unaware of any theodocy from either a Protestant or Catholic perspective that teaches that God does not restrain evil on some level.A misunderstanding of free will (i.e. a libertarian view) may lead one to this conclusion though.
"We don't have to be perfect, we're Christians..." This reminds me of a couple of people I know personally. It may not be meant the way I took what was written, but I just can't help but disagree. Why not just do what you know is right and not do what you think doesn't feel right or is wrong?? The biggest pet peeve I have is when people find out I'm atheist and think I have no morals. Morals aren't Christian-based. (I have an arm...I won't cut yours off, cause I know that hurts.)It was like a punch in the stomach reading these chapters. Apparently, this is completely new text to me. Turning people into salt, Abraham being Sarah's half brother and the daughters sleeping with Lot. What was that about? I'm just really shocked at what my Bible education consisted of...the stories that showed my young mind how great and forgiving God is, of course.I don't really know a lot of history behind all these things, I'm enjoying all the comments to learn more.
@DanielSpratlinI'm certainly not blaming centuries of slavery on the bible, though it certainly didn't help. I'm arguing that if you believe the bible is a source of morality it's communication of that ideal is quite lacking. Yes some denominations worked to abolish slavery in America, some others worked to maintain the institution. Not all Christians were abolitionists. I would argue that the failure of some Christians to comprehend the moral bankruptcy of slavery is not so much a failing of their own, but one of the source material. As to chattel vs scriptural slavery, Exodus 21:20 comes to mind.
@Damion "If the author repeatedly praises Goebbels and Himmler as upstanding and righteous, yes I do."Ah, but you would then have to show that the actions are being attributed righteousness. Abraham was attributed righteousness due to his faith, not his actions. Many times he is shown to sin: Gen 12:10-20; 15:7-8. Compare Gen 15:2-4 with 16:1-6; 17:15-19. Gen 20:1-14.One wishing to condone his scrims would surely not include such things.
The OT editors are apparently pretty unique among writers of confessional histories in being inclusive with their literature rather than edit for the purpose of smoothing out the narrative, and how awesome is that for those of us reading in present day, having more to understand their culture and worldview by?I think that's what makes the Torah such a complex, fascinating document. We're pretty lucky to have so many contrasting traditions preserved in one place.A couple posts ago I gave the order of the three stories and messed up royally.It's actually:Ch. 12: Abram-Sarai-Pharaoh (J) Ch. 20: Abraham-Sarah-Abimelech (E)Ch. 26: Isaac-Rebekah-Abimelech (J)While the E story has little in common with ch. 26 J- its more about dreams than the wife-sister game- the surrounding text shows that the E story is more related to the later. Both lead into stories involving wells and give an explanation for the place-name Beersheba. (21:31 for E, 26:33 for J) Abraham is involved in the E, and Isaac in the J.The relationship between E and J fascinates me, because it's so hard to pin down.
"I'm arguing that if you believe the bible is a source of morality it's communication of that ideal is quite lacking."We are comparing apples to oranges. The slavery in the Bible was not based exclusively on race. People were not enslaved because of their nationality or the color of their skin. Slavery was more a matter of social status. People sold themselves as slaves when they could not pay their debts or provide for their families.The Bible most definitely does condemn race-based slavery. Consider the slavery the Hebrews experienced when they were in Egypt. The Hebrews were slaves, not by choice, but because they were Hebrews (Exodus 13:14). The plagues God poured out on Egypt demonstrate how God feels about racial slavery (Exodus 7-11). So, yes, the Bible does condemn some forms of slavery. At the same time, the Bible does seem to allow for other forms. The key issue is that the slavery the Bible allowed for in no way resembled the racial slavery that plagued our world in the past few centuries.In addition, both the Old and New Testaments condemn the practice of “man-stealing” which is what happened in Africa in the 19th century. This practice is abhorrent to God. In fact, the penalty for such a crime in the Mosaic Law was death: “Anyone who kidnaps another and either sells him or still has him when he is caught must be put to death” (Exodus 21:16). Similarly, in the New Testament, slave-traders are listed among those who are “ungodly and sinful” and are in the same category as those who kill their fathers or mothers, murderers, adulterers and perverts, and liars and perjurers (1 Timothy 1:8-10)."I would argue that the failure of some Christians to comprehend the moral bankruptcy of slavery is not so much a failing of their own, but one of the source material."We can blame the Bible for not being clear enough on issues that we want to see spoken to all day long. However this is just anachronistic. The Bible is not a handbook for life or a handbook for morals or a book on how to reform society. It is the story of man's fall and God's plan to being him back. "As to chattel vs scriptural slavery, Exodus 21:20 comes to mind."These verses provide a general rule related to disciplining a slave (i.e., strikes his slave … with a rod). The rationale for not avenging a slave because the slave is his money relates only to the financial circumstances of the one he serves; it is neither a description of how a slave as a person is to be understood, nor a prescription for how a slave is to be treated. The expectation for how Israelites were to treat one another (and particularly those who were typically oppressed or overlooked) is indicated in the repeated statements at the end of this section of laws: “You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him” (22:21–24; 23:6–9).--Daniel Spratlinwww.danielspratlin.comPS I think that we are getting way off topic of the original post.
i think the most amazing thing about all of this is that two nights in a row, lot was able to maintain an erection and ejaculate into each of his daughters, impregnating them while being so drunk he blacked out. ;)
@DanielSpratlin - First, I really appreciate your dialogue here and you seriously addressing some of the questions we're posting from our non-theist points of view. I think it's exactly what Bruce was hoping would come from this project. As far as equality is concerned, here's what it comes down to for me. Although we may argue semantics about what men and women being equal really means, if the family comes to a crossroads, and the woman believes one course of action is right, and the man believes another, although God may expect the man to listen to and consider his wife's opinion in the end it is always the husband who will make the final decision and the wife who is expected to accept that decision and abide by it. That, to me, is the definition of valuing male judgement over female judgement. Which springs from the idea that a man is more able to make such judgements than a woman. Which values the man over the woman as his judgements are to be supreme. No matter what. I simply can't see any other way to interpret that. @Brian Hitt - Unless I read it wrong I believe the point was that God HAD closed up the wombs of Abimelech's women, before they came to an understanding, and then he opened them again. It's just that the fact that they had been closed isn't mentioned until after they settle everything.
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First, I want to say that I have read all of the comments so far and I am thoroughly enjoying the dialogue going on here. I come from a conservative Baptist background and this is probably the first time I've seen real discussion about the Bible that has maintained an air of maturity and hasn't led straight to childish arguing and name-calling. As I grew up hearing Bible stories and reading the Bible, it's very hard for me to see the Bible from the standpoint of someone who hasn't, so I find this very interesting and eye-opening as to what the stories mean and what the average person may see when they first read it. @hdauria:"That, to me, is the definition of valuing male judgement over female judgement. Which springs from the idea that a man is more able to make such judgements than a woman."I wouldn't say that it means that man is more able to make the judgements. I think what is missing in that is that, as the head of the family, God holds the man responsible for the direction of the family, just as He held Adam responsible for Eve's decision to eat of the fruit. When the head of, say, a business wants to make a decision he (or she) may ask the advice of people he trusts. He isn't required to, as the responsibility of the company rests on his shoulders, but he may choose to. If he does, he may choose to follow their advice or go his own way. Whichever course of action he chooses, it doesn't make the qualifications of those he sought the advice of any less and we wouldn't call it unfair, when we realize that if anything goes wrong with that choice, he is the person that will be blamed for it and will have to answer for it. It's the same way with the man being the head of the house. It's not meant to be degrading. Besides, just because the man has authority over his house does not mean he has final authority. His authority is purely derived from Jesus' authority, so if he is sinning, the wife has every right to appeal to a higher authority and to obey that (whether it be a local church or the Bible itself, or, in the case of domestic abuse or something of a similar nature, the law) over him.
@hdauria - Thank you for your kind words. I was speaking with a friend earlier today and I remarked to them that the comments I've come across on this site from the non-Christians have, so far, been very even-tempered. Not at all "Dawkins-esque" which is what I'm used to in my line of work.I'm very appreciative of the dialog and hope that it continues to be edifying and worthy.Regarding your concern, I think this is where the distinction between ontological and functional equality really comes into play and is so important. Just to dispel any confusion, when I say "ontological equality" I am referring to the natural state of being. Man and woman are ontologically equal in that they are both equal in their being. When I speak of "functional equality" I am referring to the specific roles that man and woman have in life.An illustration may help bare this out a bit better. Let's take, for example, the office of the President of the United States. Regardless of who it may be (man or woman) they are ontologically equal to myself. They are no better and no worse than I am in and of themselves. We are for all intents and purposes ontologically equal. The inequality comes into play when we address our functions in life. The President is functionally greater than I am in regards to political affairs. I submit to the office that he represents and the title that he holds. I may not agree with his (I am using the male pronoun for clarity) decisions or policies but I submit to them nonetheless (of course, this submission has limits but that's for later).This is similar to the gender roles found within the complementarian position. In your scenario, assuming that the decision is not violating God's law, then, yes, the woman would be expected to submit to her husband's decision regardless of her agreement with it. If done correctly the husband will have solicited advice from his wife and weighed such advice equally with his own but, ultimately, the decision is his. Again, this may be seen as unequal but only in the functional sense. The husband and wife, as beings, are equal."That, to me, is the definition of valuing male judgement over female judgement. Which springs from the idea that a man is more able to make such judgements than a woman. Which values the man over the woman as his judgements are to be supreme."I wanted to address this specific statement individually. When we are speaking of complementarianism and how it works practically, it is important to keep in mind that I am not saying that a man's judgment is "better" than a woman's. The man may be dead wrong and the woman absolutely correct. But the focus is not on value of their judgments. Just like with the President, my judgment may be correct and his wrong but, as the President, the final decision rests with him and I submit to it.I hope that I have been able to explain this well enough but am very willing to address any other concerns.Daniel Spratlinwww.danielspratlin.com
For those interested, I've written on how Genesis 19 certainly IS condemning homosexuality. Please take the time to read it before critiquing.CLICK HERE
Daniel,The passage is condemning rape (aka non-consensual sex). Yes it is homosexual rape (but also heterosexual rape since the angels intervene to stop the daughters being raped) but there is a vast difference between rape and sex between consenting adults. Now the Bible does seem to condemn consensual same-sex relations in some places but this is not one of them because there is no consensual sexual activity of any sort being described.
Did you read the post and the paper attached? I address this position quite thoroughly in both.
I think it could easily be condemning rape. I don't get your dismissal of the rape theory. You think the townspeople expected the two men to *want* a crazy orgy with a bunch of random strangers? What? I think rape is strongly implied by the circumstances.Oh well, the good news is it doesn't matter what Genesis, or any part of the Bible, says about homosexuality.
@betterthanesdras - As is stated in my paper on the topic:"Nowhere does the text even slightly hint that what the men of Sodom wanted to do would be permissible if only Lot’s guests had consented. Moreover, this interpretation does not account for the fact that God’s judgment fell upon two entire cities. Was homosexual rape a common practice and thus brought the judgment of God? It could have been, but such is not stated in the text. What is more damaging is that God’s judgment on homosexuality in Sodom and Gomorrah is quite in harmony with his prohibition and denunciation of this sin in other Scriptures properly interpreted. It is not as though this is the only time homosexuality is denounced and judged."
"Scriptures properly interpreted". No need to elaborate. As a long time Pharyngula reader I'm quite aware of your interpretations. :)http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/10/theres_never_a_shortage_of_sma.php
@David - Yes, as anyone with any regards to authorial intent will testify, you have to properly interpret something before you're able to form a valid view. Why, you've interpreted what I've written already.Please don't let your emotions blind you. Otherwise, you're no better than "those Christians" your ilk rail about.
@Sara - Thanks for your comments. I do want to point out that many of us who are atheists were raised in Christian homes. My father is a Baptist minister so I was absolutely brought up in the church. And my journey to atheism didn't come from any negative experience of Christianity. My childhood was happy and not repressed in any way. My parents were quite progressive, they taught me to be a critical thinker about *almost* everything. I just took that critical thinking one step farther than they expected. It was a very slow progression that started when I was about 6 or 7 (when a church member told me that dinosaurs never existed because they're not in the Bible - note to self: Bible not to be taken absolutely literally) and didn't come to completion until my mid-20s. So I have experienced the childhood belief, feeling the wonder of these stories. I understand that viewpoint.As far as the male/female thing goes, it's one of the areas where I kind of wish Christians would just come out and say, yep, God says that in certain ways man is better, more capable. Just deal with it. Because all the arguments you make are compelling and are arguments I made to myself when I was a young woman struggling with that particular aspect of Christianity. But the fact is that no matter how difficult for him it may be or how much responsibility he's forced to accept, man gets final say. Why? Because he's male. So either God just flipped a coin to see who'd get/have to be in charge, or he had a reason for picking the man. So what's the reason? The only one I can think of is that God considers man more capable of being a leader.Of course, it's easier for me as an atheist because I can just deal with the fact that the ancient Israelites were a patriarchial society, and in fact they were in competition with many matrifocal and matrilineal societies in the fertile crescent. So the God they created favored the male, as they did. Just as they lived in a society where how you treated a male guest in your house was more important than how you treated your female child. So it's in the Bible.You know, when I was a kid and asked my Dad about the whole "we know the world wasn't created in 6 days" thing, he told me that God explained the creation to the ancient people in a way that they could understand. Even that would be a good argument. The Israelites were a people who valued male over female and God knew they weren't ready for the full deal so he gave the men that little bit of extra authority for a while . . . :)
@Sara - Thanks for your comments! I do want to mention that many of us who consider ourselves atheists were raised in religious homes. My father is a Baptist minister so I obviously was raised in the church. And I didn't come to atheism because of any negative experiences with the church. My childhood was happy and not restricted in any particular way because my dad was a preacher. My parents actually raised me to think for myself, and to think critically, about *almost* everything. I just took that critical thinking one step further than they anticipated! My journey to atheism was a very long, slow progression that seems to me now in retrospect to be not very different from a child's journey to not believing in Santa Claus. Eventually I simply couldn't reconcile what Christianity told me with what I knew about the world.As far as the male/female thing, you make good arguments. I can see your points. But the one big fact remains that no matter how much responsibility or grief it may bring him, man was ultimately chosen by God to hold the final say. Why? Why man and not woman? Either God just flipped a coin or there was some reason he felt that the man should be in charge instead of the woman. There's no way out of the fact that God must have decided there was something that man had and woman lacked that made it right to put man in charge. You put someone in charge of something because you consider them more capable that anyone else. That's superiority. It's saying man is inherently more capable of making good decisions than woman.Of course, it's much easier for me. The Israelites were a patriarchal society. They were also in competition with some strongly matrifocal and matrilineal societies in the fertile crescent. So the God they invented reflected their own beliefs in the superiority of the male.
@hdauria With regards to male/female, it could be similar to how He decided that the sky would be blue, grass would be green, birds would fly and fish would swim, etc. Some things we will never know. "The secret things belong to the Lord..." (Deut. 29:29).You said: "So the God they invented reflected their own beliefs in the superiority of the male." As we will see in weeks to come, do you really think the Israelites would invent a God who continuously sends men who prophesy against them in their rebellion?
@flash"...do you really think the Israelites would invent a God who continuously sends men who prophesy against them in their rebellion?"I certainly do think that. Remember this material was compiled much later, and, as I understand, a lot of it was put in final form during the Babylonian Exile. The writers were trying to deal with the problem of "We believed in an all-powerful god, yet all this bad stuff has happened to us. Do we keep believing?" One answer might have been that their god was less powerful than the Babylonian gods, but that would result in the Hebrews converting religions and perhaps losing their cultural cohesion.The answer they came up with was that their god was all-powerful, but angry with them. They were being punished for disobedience. All they had to do was obey, and god would send a rescuer, deliver them from captivity, etc, etc. This is an overarching theme of the entire OT. Over and over we see this pattern: god gives orders, humans disobey, god smites humans. God sends a prophet to tell his people how disobedient they are, they ignore the prophet, god smites them. When people are obedient, they are rewarded, or at least not punished. If I were trying to be a prophet during really hard times, and persuade people that bad things will happen if they don't listen to me, this is exactly the kind of book I would write. Remember Pat Robertson saying that Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans because it was sinful, so we had beter listen to his preaching and shape up? That's pretty much the same kind of thing we are seeing in the Sodom and Gomorrah story.
@Ubi - Why worry about the Hebrews converting to another religion if you're just making one up to begin with? Why include so many details (many of which are incredibly irrelevant)? Why include stories that people will read and say such things as "See? This is a mean God!" or "This verse and that verse contradict!"? Why paint your own God-chosen prophets as being sinful? Not to mention that the only post-exilic books are Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi (the last 3 being prophetical not historical).Now, you're right in that the intention of some of the OT books was to answer the question "Why are we in exile?". But it is a giant leap of logic to then conclude that to answer this question, a god had to be created and a history fudged. Why could it not just be a recounting of actual events? Is it because you come to the book already "knowing" there is no God?I appreciate your comments :-)
I just want to point out that I'm not saying the ancient Israelites knew they were making up God, any more than the ancient Greeks believed they were making up Zeus and Hera. They, like all people, strove to explain the world around them and like everyone before them their answers included a supernatural deity. And as their culture evolved and people questioned their concept of deity became ever more focused. It also had to mesh with reality. EVERY religion has prophets who rail against the way others are choosing to live their lives. And the people who chose those texts as part of the Hebrew Bible lived in a later time and were able to look back and say, check out how wrong those guys were, isn't it great God sent (pick a prophet) to set them straight. I think you'll agree with me that Zeus and the other Olympic Gods aren't real, yet their myths include stories of their own bad behavior and the bad behavior of the humans they supposedly created. Why would the Greeks make up stories that made them look bad? Daniel, all the questions you ask could be asked of those same ancient Greeks and their myths.I want to point out, though, that I'm not trying to convert anyone to atheism, just expressing how the Bible *can* be read from a non-theist perspective and still make sense. I don't read the Bible to be convinced there is a God or to cement my belief that there isn't. Although I will say that it is a greater leap of logic to decided that the Bible is inspired by a supernatural being. (That's why they call it faith, I think.) I don't think anyone here is being more or less logical, we're just discussing this book, bit by bit, each from our own perspective.
"When people are obedient, they are rewarded, or at least not punished."The book of Job is counter to this thought. In fact, because Job was obedient, he was punished even more. More on this when this book comes around.
@hdauria - I don't believe you have taken care to differentiate religious views. Christians aren't looking for God behind events, we are looking for God in the events. What God is doing behind the scenes is not our concern unless he tells us.God and the gods have nothing much more in common than similar sounding names. The God of the Bible is all-knowing, all-powerful, and the ground of being. He has no physical body. If he exists, then there could only be one. God is the source of all life.The gods of Olympus often know less than a cagey taxi driver. They can be defeated by a human being, and they came into being and can pass out of being. The gods have a certain kind of physical embodiment, even if that can change. They are “deathless” and not immortal. They don’t possess life as much as avoid death. If they existed, it would not remove the need for a God, if there is a need for a God!The gods of Olympus are more like Superman than God, though they are much less likely to be in favor of truth, justice, or the American Way than the Man of Steel. The gods in Homer are petulant, small minded, lustful and less powerful than some men. There is only a superficial likeness to even the earliest stories about God in the Old Testament, and the elevated ethics of Isaiah or the Gospel of John are entirely missing.If the gods love you, Homeric people are afraid. If God loves you, there is hope and an end of fear.More importantly, the gods of these pantheons were/are not really gods in the proper sense. In order to call them such is a misunderstanding of what “god” means. In other words, they were functional deities who carried a role that was expedient to the life and happiness of the people. They were the gods of rain, sun, crops, war, fertility, and the like. They were the “go-to” immanent forces who had no transcendence or ultimate creative power. They were more like superheroes from the Justice League than gods. In this system, human beings and these gods shared the same type of life, having similar problems and frustrations. The deistic philosophy of the people did not center around a “universe” in which one god was controlling and holding all things together, but a “multiverse” where each god was responsible for his or her respective career. Therefore, these gods would have much more in common with the Tooth Fairy and Santa Clause than they would with the God that the Bible describes. While most systems had a “top dog,” if you will (Zeus, Re, Enlil, Marduk, etc), these were not thought of as the ultimate creators of all things who, out of necessity, transcend space and time. They were simply really, really powerful beings that happened to be caught up in the same world we are. More powerful than us mortals? Yes. But none qualify for the title “God.”Christianity believes in only one God (monotheism). We believe this not simply because we want to have the most powerful being out of the millions, but out of theological and philosophical necessity. We believe that God created all things out of nothing. We believe that existence necessitates a “first cause” or an “unmoved mover.” This first cause is by definition God. Simply put, whoever started it all (the time, space, matter creation) is the only true God. There cannot be multiple first causers. God, while able to interact and love mankind, must transcend all that we see and know. He must be outside of our universe holding it all together, not simply the most powerful actor in our current play. We are simply talking about two different species here. One that is transcendently holy, both ontologically (who he is in essence) and morally (what he does) and the other which is but a hair’s breath from us.In the end, the theistic type of God espoused by Christianity cannot be compared to the pantheon of gods of polytheistic religions. It is comparing apples to oranges.
On a side note, faith is not a leap in logic or the belief in something despite all the evidence. Biblical faith is not a vague hope grounded in imaginary, wishful thinking. Instead, faith is a settled confidence that something in the future—something that is not yet seen but has been promised by God—will actually come to pass because God will bring it about. Thus biblical faith is not blind trust in the face of contrary evidence, not an unknowable “leap in the dark”; rather, biblical faith is a confident trust in the eternal God who is all-powerful, infinitely wise, eternally trustworthy—the God who has revealed himself in his word and in the person of Jesus Christ, whose promises have proven true from generation to generation, and who will “never leave nor forsake” his own (Heb. 13:5).Regarding logic, I would argue, I believe convincingly, that it is impossible for God not to exist. Logic stems from him and to even deny him one must first assume his existence. This is, obviously, not the place for such a discussion though.
@DanielSpratlin"Why worry about the Hebrews converting to another religion if you're just making one up to begin with? Why include so many details (many of which are incredibly irrelevant)? Why include stories that people will read and say such things as "See? This is a mean God!" or "This verse and that verse contradict!"? Why paint your own God-chosen prophets as being sinful? "They didn't think they were "making it up". They had a bunch of tradition, myth, and older written sources that they were doing their best to compile and re-edit into a "scripture". And what they chose to include and how they edited it were affected by their own motivations about what they thought was true, what they thought was important, and what they were trying to accomplish. Which is what I find interesting aboout analyzing an ancient text like this one: not the actual content, but what insights it gives us into the mindset of humanity in the Bronze Age.
@Ubi - The problem with this theory is that there is zero evidence for it. It's an assertion without an argument. One would have to begin with the assumption that it can't be true and then work their way back to that assumption. There is just no evidence to support this idea.
Daniel,I don't think I made any assumptions about "it can't be true". I just don't start from an assumption that it is true.I'll make some assertions now:We are reading a book.This book was written down by a bunch of people who lived a long time ago.People who write books usually have a specific reason for doing so.You can often tell a lot about someone by the things they choose to write.Any problems with those assertions?Daniel, I really have no interest in arguing any matters of theology with you. I got over theology a long time ago. If your point in being here is to sermonize about how true this book is, I'll just talk to those others who find it an interesting piece of literature.
I'll just point out that examining the Bible as a historical document is not a view invented or owned by atheists. Source criticism (and really, all critical study of the Bible) was began by theists wanting to understand the origin of their scripture. This isn't something atheists invented.I got over theology a long time ago.You and me both.
@Ubi - I had hoped for an intellectual discussion but if having the audacity to claim to know truth is "sermonizing" then I think it best that you do find another person to talk with. Good day.
@DanielSpratlin - I wasn't trying to equate the God of the Bible with the ancient Greek gods. You said:"Why worry about the Hebrews converting to another religion if you're just making one up to begin with? Why include so many details (many of which are incredibly irrelevant)? Why include stories that people will read and say such things as "See? This is a mean God!" or "This verse and that verse contradict!"? Why paint your own God-chosen prophets as being sinful?"My argument was simply that other religions that we both agree are made up do exactly the same things that you are saying the Israelites wouldn't do if they were making up God. That's my only point. That the fact that there are difficult, contradictory things doesn't *necessarily* prove that the works had to be divinely inspired.I certainly hope that these discussions can remain respectful. I don't claim to know the Truth, I just know what I believe and I can explain what I believe. I hope I'm always careful to point out that my opinions about the Bible come from my own vantage point as a non-believer. And I think that most of the commenting Christians have done the same: explaining how they interpret or reconcile passages from their vantage point of belief. I think we can all agree that attempting to convert each other would be pointless.
@DanielSpratlin - I tried posting this earlier but it doesn't seem to have worked. Trying again! I just want to point out that I wasn't trying to equate the Greek gods with the God of the Hebrew Bible. You said:"Why worry about the Hebrews converting to another religion if you're just making one up to begin with? Why include so many details (many of which are incredibly irrelevant)? Why include stories that people will read and say such things as "See? This is a mean God!" or "This verse and that verse contradict!"? Why paint your own God-chosen prophets as being sinful? "I was simply pointing out that a religion that we both agree is false and made up does exactly what you argued that the Israelites wouldn't have done if they were making theirs up. The fact that there are difficult, contradictory passages or that God-chosen prophets sin, doesn't necessarily mean that it must be divinely inspired.