Tuesday, May 31, 2011

2 Chronicles 1-8 Return of the Son of David

2 Chronicles 1-8

We revisit the adventures of Solomon.

Chronicles isn't turning out as heinous as I feared.  It's rather boring and lame that the people that assembled the Bible in it's currant form didn't do a better job of excising the repetitive stories.

7:2 states "And the priests could not enter into the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD's house."

Was God gassy?


  1. 2Ch 2:5 And the house which I build [is] great: for great [is] our God above all gods.

    I feel like there have been plenty of passages that infer there are more than one god but this is a quote from someone who spoke directly to God. Doesn't that make it tough for someone to be a literalist as well as a monotheist?

  2. Mm, nope. Not really. The consistent view of the Bible—Old and New Testaments alike—is that God is the supreme power, not the only one. It's monotheism in the sense that it argues that he is the only true God, the only one worthy of worship—but not in the sense that it denies the existence of other spiritual beings.

    That should be obvious to anyone reading the text with an eye to understanding it, rather than just mocking it, though. :-)

  3. @Chris:

    What is your definition of monotheism? What's the difference between that and thinking Zeus is the baddest of all the gods and worshiping him? That's not monotheism (it's actually henotheism).

    Everything I've ever read about Christianity is that it's monotheistic and that's one of the things that really set it apart from most previous religions.

    BTW, I am trying to understand it which is why I posted this (I promise I don't have the stamina to spend this long on something just to mock it).

  4. I've *never* before heard the claim that the Bible is steadfastly monolatrist/henotheist. (Acknowledging many gods but promoting worship of just the bestest one.)

    More often it's claimed that the Bible is absolutely monotheistic. Neither absolute, of course, is right, because the Bible contains references to both (and many other) views.

    The OT is definitely mostly monolatrist (being edited by Yahweh-worshippers), but monotheism creeps in (at least rhetorically) in the post-exile period, in works like 2nd Isaiah.

    I was pretty sure the New Testament was consistently monotheistic, but honestly, I've took Christian's word on that.

    Everything I've ever read about Christianity is that it's monotheistic and that's one of the things that really set it apart from most previous religions.

    Well, Judaism was monotheistic before Christianity emerged. But as I said, the Bible says a lot of different things. Modern theology is not a good window on what's actually in the text.

  5. @Chris,
    Did the god of the Bible create these other gods? If he created the universe, that would seem to be the case. If so, why?

  6. The Yale lectures on the NT (lecture 8, at about 39:00) speak to the "gnostic" conception of many gods, Sophia, and the "mutant god" that she gave birth to (the Greek demiurge?). In that conception, it was this lesser god that created the material world.

    This was in reference to the Gospel of Thomas ... which explains why that might have been excluded from the NT canon. I know I'm leaping ahead, but that's kinda on the same monolatrist thread being discussed here.

  7. @Chris - The idea you're describing, henotheism, is not taught in either Testament. References to other gods do not mean that the writers actually believed in other deities. The Old Testament was written in an extremely diverse religious atmosphere - the pantheons of the surrounding nations included many, many gods. Claims like "the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods" (Psalm 95:3) are meant as a rejoinder to these other religions. In essence, they say, "Our God is better than yours," much like contemporary Christians claim that the triune God we worship is greater than Allah, whom we do not recognize as a god by an common definition. The Bible uses the language and metaphors of its writers' audience, but that doesn't mean that it accepts them as legitimate.

    There are Old Testament passages that explicitly state as much. One example is found in Isaiah 44:6, which reads, "Thus says the LORD . . . 'I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god'" (cf. Isaiah 45 and 46, where many similar statements appear). The fundamental theological principle of Old Testament religion is that "the LORD our God is one" (Deuteronomy 6:4), i.e., there are no other gods. The Old Testament is thoroughly and uniquely monotheistic.

    The New Testament teaches monotheism even more explicitly. For example, the apostle Paul makes Christianity's monotheism abundantly clear in 1 Corinthians 8:4-6 and especially 10:20, where he writes, "What pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God."

    If you meant to say that God has created other spiritual beings (i.e., angels and demons), then there is no shortage of biblical evidence for that. But to say that these are in any sense divine is a misunderstanding of the text.