Together, people of varied beliefs will read the King James Bible.
Yes, God killed two of Aaron's sons for, I think, capturing some of his divine fire to burn incense. As best as I can follow, Aaron screwed up and didn't eat the burnt offering at all but Moses forgave him when he pointed out that since he wasn't in the best frame of mind (because his sons were killed) he wouldn't have been worthy to eat the sacrifice any how.
Did Aaron's sons get burned to death by God?Yep. Why? The Priestly author had to kill them off and introduce HIS sons of Aaron, Eleazar and Ithicar. Good place for an object lesson in proper temple etiquette. Eleazar and Ithicar get no mention in JE; they are first mentioned in a genealogy list apparently used by P in Exodus 6 (which names all four sons). Nadab and Abihu are only mentioned by P in this story and his many geneological lists. He had his own tradition, where Eleazar was important. (He takes over Aaron's job upon his death.)Nadab and Abihu are actually only present in the Golden Calves story. Their father, Aaron, made the golden calves.You know who else made golden calves?King Jereboam.Guess what his son's names were?Nadab and Abiyah!
Abbie, the reverse engineering of history that you relate makes the story more I treating to me. A straightforward reading makes the deity ccme across as a petulant small minded tyrant. Considering that were other choices for a god, one has to wonder how bad the others were for the Hebrews to choose the one they did.
It's astounding how poorly God is portrayed by his own press. If I were writing the Bible (and I would do a much better job at it, too), I would just leave out all of the stuff with God indiscriminately killing his followers.
Alex, if you were to write the bible your way, couldn't you be accused of doing a cover up?The documentary hypothesis is pretty good at explaining why someone would write such horror--it was a way of manipulating the populace. Now, George Orwell's Big Brother doesn't seem like such an original idea. Apparently those in power have been using the same tactics for thousands of years. I think it is a mistake to believe that just because our ancestors were less advanced technologically, that they were stupid.
@Barbara: "Apparently those in power have been using the same tactics for thousands of years."Throwing in some "lest ye die"s and "that ye die not"s was a brilliant touch on the part of the priestly writer(s). What better way is there to impress upon people that the domain of your particular expertise is critical to their very lives. It's like the car mechanic saying "Well, you don't need to replace that expensive part, but your car might explode and kill you and your family if you don't."
@Barbara: "Considering that were other choices for a god, one has to wonder how bad the others were for the Hebrews to choose the one they did."They were pretty bad as well, other gods of the region danced in complex soap operas among the heavens and were quite fickle. The gods drowned the masses for being too loud and created mankind to do the menial work of the earth. While the Israelite god made mankind the pinnacle of his creation and wanted to have a relationship with them.It seems gods relationship with his people becomes more and more legalistic as we get farther in.
It's hard understanding alot of this jargon. I often read the Sceptics Bible and then the one at this link which is for bible study but in plain (real?) English. I know it's biased but still breaks everything down into understandable bits. http://www.workersforjesus.com/online-leviticus.htm
@Barbara,Professor Hayes' lectures in the Yale Open Courses give a great overview of ways in which the Israelite God was different from other Gods of the region. As strange as it may seem, he really was a kinder, gentler God!