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View Diary: Why do so many folks here use the term "Old Testament" as code for barbarism? (265 comments)

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  •  You obviously never say Fast Five (9+ / 0-)
    Mr. Johnson joins the fray as Hobbs, an American federal agent described as "Old Testament -- blood, bullets, wrath of God." He pretty much delivers on that deadly description although not in the way imagined.
    Going Old Testament on someone is similar to going Medieval on someone as mentioned in Pulp Fiction.  It basically means brutal, violent, blood and gore.

    Old Testament also means Old School or Old Fashioned.  As in kicking it Old Testament Style.  It was seen in the movie Juno.  I wouldn't read too much into it if it's being used that way as it simply is referring to something as being OLD.    

    I can understand getting offended by it being synonymous with violence and brutality but to be quite frank the Old Testament was those things as well so it fits.  Also the Old Testament was ALSO known for the various examples of the wrath of God be it the flood or Sodom and Gomorrah or the deadly plagues of Egypt including the Angel of Death.  It was the New Testament that introduced us to the more benevolent and loving God who would sacrifice his own son for us.  So in that context using Old Testament to refer to getting violent or rough with someone is very apt as opposed to going all New Testament or New Age which has a more passive, peaceful and loving connotation.

    In the end it's all just slang.  Far more important things to get riled up about.

    This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

    by DisNoir36 on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 03:53:58 PM PST

    •  I guess I am not up on American pop culture (5+ / 0-)

      I don't know what is Fast Five or Pulp Fiction or the movie Juno.

      But I just can't possibly fathom this line:

      It was the New Testament that introduced us to the more benevolent and loving God who would sacrifice his own son for us.
      This sounds to me like the craziest, most self-contradictory expression I've ever heard.

      God tries in the OT to teach us to give to the poor, stop harassing foreigners, visit the sick, execute justice, and help widows and orphans.  He scolds us when we don't do this.  Then in the NT, He gives up and says: "I know what I'll do!!  I'll have intercourse with this engaged lady and make a baby boy.  And then when he grows up, I'll arrange to have him tortured.  People will whip him to within an inch of his life, then drive nails through his arms and legs and hang him on a cross until he dies a painful death.  And then I'll rescind all these too-difficult laws about giving to the poor, respecting foreigners, executing justice, and so forth.  Instead I'll just forgive everybody -- all they have to do is believe that this boy is messiah and worship him. Of course, anybody who won't believe will get thrown into an eternal lake of fire".

      If somebody can explain how this is even the slightest bit a more benevolent and loving God, I'll consider becoming Christian.

      •  And of course there's the christian tenet (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Diamond Mind, suesue, leftymama

        that says that humans  (babies!) are inherently evil unless (until) they're baptized in the faith...

      •  The God of the Old Testament murdered (4+ / 0-)
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        suesue, Smoh, Kevskos, Williston Barrett

        a couple million kids because some emperor pissed him off.

        After "hardening the heart" of said emperor, so that he had no choice but to piss God off.

        That's what people are talking about when they use "Old Testament" that way.

        Yeah, letting your own kid get tortured for a couple days absolutely pales in comparison to that.

        "the Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared material at these facilities and LOFs."

        by JesseCW on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 05:32:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  In the NT... (0+ / 0-)

          Everybody who doesn't believe that the holy spirit proceedeth from the father and the son is going to be thrown into a lake of fire where he will experience eternal conscious torment.

          That includes most of the world's population, including the whole Eastern branch of the Christian church.

          And any number of good deeds won't save you from that fate.

          You may not like his fate, but the emperor who "pissed God off" put an entire nation to slavery at hard labor, and then ordered that all the male children be killed.  

          Quite a bit different from disbelieving the filioque clause.

          •  Chapter & verse, please? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            librarisingnsf, millwood

            For this --

            Everybody who doesn't believe that the holy spirit proceedeth from the father and the son is going to be thrown into a lake of fire where he will experience eternal conscious torment.
            The filioque clause is from the Catholic Church, developed over the centuries as they continued to codify their mandatory orthodox beliefs.  The 'lake of fire' thing is from Revelations, and frankly I don't remember who it was that got punished with it, or for what infractions, but the filoque thing wasn't until centuries later.
            •  Paul's doctrine of grace... (1+ / 0-)
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              teaches that you are saved if and only if you "believe him", otherwise you are condemned (and you go to hell).

              The accepted interpretation of "believe him" includes "believe everything he (allegedly) said, either directly or through his apostles".  

              So when John (who is allegedly an apostle) quotes him in 15:26:

              But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me
              then this verse (according to Paul's doctrine of grace, which is a majority position in Christianity, and especially so in Protestant denominations) suddenly gets promoted to one of the things you have to believe in to avoid being condemned.

              It is treated as "the word of the Lord". And indirectly, so is everything Paul said.  So is everything Matthew said about Jesus being born of a virgin.

              The net effect, for many many Christians (not just supersessionists), is that (1) there are no degrees of guilt; everyone without exception is already 100% guilty and merits hell, (2) certain people are pardoned and become 0% guilty, (3) the criterion for whether you're pardoned or not is not how righteous you were in life, but whether or not you "believe", and that includes getting the doctrine right.

              How you get the filioque from John 15:26 is another matter and it's beyond my comprehension.  I only know that once it was decided by group A that this what the verse meant, then anyone in group B who didn't believe this was anathema and bound for hell.  People went to war over stuff like this.  The Cathars were murdered, not over the filioque, but over some other stupid bit of doctrine that hardly anyone today understands (including me).

          •  Which is all about what happens in magic (0+ / 0-)

            fairy land after we die.  

            When you tell stories about how dieties treat their enemies  in "the real world", you train a  new generation to believe that this is how enemies should be treated.

            "the Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared material at these facilities and LOFs."

            by JesseCW on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 10:26:24 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Both OT & NT developed over centuries (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Diamond Mind, librarisingnsf, mbayrob

        by various individuals and groups with different social/political agendas, as well as different UNDERSTANDINGS of what their religions were supposed to be about.

        I'm basically on your side in this, Rob, because I too am often distressed by the hate-speech that is (imo) rampant on this site when it comes to Christianity (by which this site means 'right-wing politicized fundamentalism), and which often results in the specific hate-speech pointed at the Old Testament (as distorted and used by the right-wing political fundamentalists).

        You write:

        God tries in the OT to teach us to give to the poor, stop harassing foreigners, visit the sick, execute justice, and help widows and orphans.  He scolds us when we don't do this.  
        Yes, there are large portions of the OT -- both the Law and the Prophets -- in which the OT does express exactly those teachings as the basis of God's will for his chosen people.

        And in the NT, the Gospels show JC TEACHING exactly the teachings you love the OT for.

        Even the gospels, however, were written by mainly second- or third-generation believers who were looking back forty to sixty years and INTERPRETING the experiences of a now-dead generation.  And by that time, Paul's letters -- which were written much closer in time to the life of Jesus -- had already incorporated a great many elements of Roman Mithraism into the understand (interpretation) believed by that later generation.

        The 'lake of fire' thing that really  seems to distress you (as it should, imo) didn't come into the writings that became the NT until quite late -- i the book of Revelatoin was written much later than any other NT book, and was almost not chosen for inclusion in the King James version (ca 1600).  I wish it had been been left out.

        Here's another reading (interpretation) of the life of JC for you:  I'll leave out any consideration of whether or not he was 'fully human, fully divine' and just look at him, for now, as a Nice Jewish Boy who had a mystical, prophetic bent and who, instead of marrying, chose (or felt compelled) to wander about talking to other Jews.  What he mainly talked about was: How we are to love our fellow humans.  We are to love our fellow humans (he said to Jews) because Love is the Essence of God's law -- and the rest is just commentary.  G-d's relationship with me, he said, and with you and with the Samaritan and the Woman by the well who had five husbands and with the woman who was caught in adultery and with the men I prevented from stoning her to death -- My relationship with God, he said, is the same as that of a son to this father, and so is your relationship with him like that of parent to child.

        He also taught that the Priests -- the religious hierarchical political/religious power structure -- had sold out to the Romans and had become capitalist quislings.  (And, if God is your Father, why do you need any intermediaries to  sacrifice animals in your behalf?)  So this pissed off both the Romans and the Jewish Power Structure, and they colluded in killing the troublemaker, but only succeeded in making a martyr of him.

        I can tell Rob, that you've given much careful and loving study to your Torah tradition, and this makes me respect you quite a bit.  I'm afraid, though, that you may have settled for simplistic versions of New Testament study (interpretations) and are using them as your basis for what the NT 'says' or 'means'.  (Or that may just be what it looks like because you are being attacked by a good many commenters here, now.)

        I do appreciate what you're trying to do here, which I thinks is that you wanted to ask 'why are people hating on my beloved Torah here, and everybody thinks it's okay?"  I think that's a good question, and one that needs to be brought up here for grown-up discussion, so thanks.

        •  Point well taken (1+ / 0-)
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          As a non-Christian who's read bits and pieces of the Gospels, while I don't see JC as a deity, I'm willing to concede he must have been Quite A Guy.  At least in the Synoptic Gospels, there's a definite sense of the person behind the text, and it's a compelling personality at that.  A great teacher, and a teacher of great things.

          What many Christians ended up doing with his teaching, well, that's another conversation altogether, but certainly, Christian teaching can be Way towards our better (say, even, Buddha) nature.

          [I]t is totally not true that Mitt Romney strapped Paul Ryan to the top of a car and drove him to Canada. Stop spreading rumors! -- Gail Collins

          by mbayrob on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 11:06:47 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  You should learn the culture (0+ / 0-)

        before attempting to criticize certain phrases whose popular usage you misunderstand in an attempt to feel insulted or oppressed.

      •  Sorry but I absolutely disagree Rob in CT (0+ / 0-)

        the OT God is far more vengeful and mean spirited.  (The whole Book of Revelations thing aside.)

        Yes he did submit his son to Old Testament style torture but Jesus Christ basically dummied down all the laws God gave his people in the OT to a few basic laws.  Love your God, love your parents and love your neighbor as you would yourself.    All those things you mentioned he taught in the NT.  Jesus Christ did it through parables, the Samaritan, for example was about respecting foreigners.  No more laws about how you had to dress, when and where you had to worship God, who you could lay down with, or get it on with, whether or not you could eat shellfish or animals with hooven feet.  You no longer had to worry about getting freaking stoned if you did these things either.  It was a new testament for a new, 'more civilized age'.  It had nothing to do with loving the boy but just listening to his teachings which are basically the things taught us in the Old Testament but without the retribution and punishment.  It was Jesus who forgave an adulteress from an OT style (to use the pop culture reference) stoning and forgave a murderer and made him one of his disciples.  He focused more on forgiveness and love rather than on sin and retribution.  Same teachings but different point of view I guess.

        The Lake of Fire and all of Revelations for that matter was a separate thing.  There is much controversy over when it was written, by whom and frankly what its meaning is.  It had little to do with Jesus Christ or his teachings and was mostly prophetic having little to do with the now (or then as in when Jesus was alive or the book was written) but what was to come.  Alot of the imagery used was derived from the Old Testament but it was like the author was on a really bad acid trip or something.  I believe Greek and Russian Orthodox churches do not even include it.  It makes for great apocalyptic movies and stories but does little else for me.

        Frankly IMO anyone who relies on Revelations as their core Christian religious foundation is warped in the head.  To do that you have to basically ignore all that Jesus taught. The whole point of Revelations is that if you follow the teachings Jesus taught us about you won't have to worry about Revelations because when it comes you'll be going to Heaven anyway.  IMO and where I diverge from some of the christian churches and people is that I don't necessarily believe you have to be christian in order to follow his teachings because his teachings are so basic that they're universal.  Every major religion and religious philosophy can be boiled down to 'Love your God, love your parents and love your neighbor as you would yourself.'  Who cares if that God's name is Jehovah, Yahweh, Allah, Buddha or whatever.  If you love a god AND ALL OF CREATION, love your parents and everyone else YOU ARE GOOD.  You can replace love with say respect and it still applies.  As such when the time comes you will go to a better place.  These are universal beliefs not simply exclusive to christian faiths.  Buddhists for example basically believe that if you lead a good life you will be reborn in a better life.  Forget the lake of fire crap and the end of days.  If you follow those basic teachings, regardless of whether you believe in ol JC or not, you are good and will not see any of that.  At least that's the way I see it FWIW.

        Anyway this veered a bit off my original point which was that often when the term is used it's just as you said pop culture and shouldn't be taken so heavily.  I don't know why you would be offended by it's use but obviously have taken it personally probably due to your faith.  That's cool, I get that but I hope you understand my original point.  As for this longer tangent if you're going to take anything from it I hope it's that IT DOESN'T MATTER if you're a christian or not.  Just be a good person and everything else will sort itself out.  Sometimes I think we get too hung up on the minutest of details of a particular tree and fail to see the whole forest.    

        This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

        by DisNoir36 on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 04:28:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  We obviously see vengefulness in a different way (0+ / 0-)

          You say:

          the OT God is far more vengeful and mean spirited.  (The whole Book of Revelations thing aside.)
          I don't see it that way at all.  First of all Jesus does say things like "He who hates me hates my father" (from John).   "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! ...Thus you witness against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.... You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?" (from Matthew) "He said to [the Jews], 'You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he.'" (from John)  So it's a vicious condemnation of unbelievers in general, and Pharisees (i.e. us Jews) in particular.  And of course the crucifixion itself is no picnic either, yet it's viewed as necessary to bring on a new age of alleged forgiveness.

          Then when the above is combined with James' letter and Paul's letters, the teaching is that (a) he who is guilty of even one sin is guilty of all (and hence all humanity is guilty), and (b) you are pardoned only through faith, not through our deeds (and hence Christians with right doctrine alone are saved and all others are condemned).

          So it's not just the book of Revelation that is problematic; it's the whole doctrine: unbelievers go to hell.  And "Pharisee" (which just means the dominant sect of Jews) has become a synonym for "hypocritical evildoer".

          There is a danger in the "dummied down" laws.  Not that "love your neighbor" isn't good -- it's a copy of what's in Leviticus!  But it's too vague without a system of more particular laws, and scholars and judges who interpret them.  The result is that too many Christians think that it's ok to hunt, that it's ok to give "voluntary charity" to whoever thinks they deserve it, rather than compulsory justice to whoever is needy, and in general that if they are faithful believers the holy spirit will guide their conscience.  Deuteronomy mandates that each generation should supply judges to interpret and re-interpret the law so that just as the Supreme Court applies abstract constitutional principles to real cases, Jewish courts and scholars will apply Torah principles to real cases.  

          You may not like the cruelty in the OT, but at least it is usually explained as the consequence of some unrighteousness -- e.g. Sodom didn't help the poor, and spurned strangers, threatened to rape them, and mocked those who gave hospitality to strangers, so they were destroyed by fire and brimstone, and even then Abraham pleaded not to destroy the innocent with the guilty.  But in the NT, righteousness doesn't save you, so the horrible consequences of a fiery hell go not to the wicked but to the unbelieving.  I'll take the OT, thank you.

        •  The jewish god doesn't torture dead people. (0+ / 0-)

          The newish god does.

          I can't imagine how one could look at the prospect of infinite torture and say that it's the more civilized option.

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