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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 don't see the abject barbarianism in the OT? (11+ / 0-)

    By nature the old religions reflect an age that was far harsher and by todays standard very barbaric.

    It says nothing about those today who use the text as the basis of their religion, but the stories themselves are full of harsh cruelty.

    I am not familiar with the association being some kind of slur against Jews and find it absurd that it should given that Islam and Christianity are based on the same principles.

    Maybe one day humanity can grow up and not need archaic books for the foundation of morality, but at the same time there is wisdom in these texts.

    I am an atheist and yet I still generally live by the 10 commandments, not because i'm afraid of going to hell, but because they are a nice simple set of guidelines to live by in a civilized society.

    Not only can a small group of dedicated people change the world, its the only thing that ever has.

    by fToRrEeEsSt on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 04:06:41 PM PST

    •  Well, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CroneWit
      given that Islam and Christianity are based on the same principles.
      That's not nearly as true as modern (usually post-christian) westerners would like to think.

       It's a nice thought that's usually meant in a "we're all good people together!' kind of way, but that is (nearly as often, IME) used in a  "one sucks, so they're all identically sucky' way.

      Culture and textual interpretation matters at least as much, if not more, than the flat text itself.

      •  You in no way qualify your point... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gustynpip, Smoh, Kevskos, Sandino

        You say it is not as true as 'modern usually westerners' would like to think, but in no way support it with examples.

        I am not saying their are not differences in the religions, but their founding principles are generally the same.

        Can you explain why specifically you felt the need to disagree with that?

        Not only can a small group of dedicated people change the world, its the only thing that ever has.

        by fToRrEeEsSt on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 04:21:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I can't summarize years of study in a comment, (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Diamond Mind, CroneWit, mbayrob

          but as a simple example: Christianity and Islam say (essentially) that good (christians/muslims) should trust and submit to God. Judaism says that good jews argue with God.

          And of course, from the point of views of both judaism and islam, christianity isn't a monotheistic religion.

          Even within each religion, there isn't always consensus on what their founding principles are, much less among the three. It's possible to look at (probably) any three human cultures/ideologies/whatever and find similarities, even ones that seem to be foundational -- but the people within that culture may not agree.

          That sort of statement is taking a very 'objective' colonialist/imperialist approach, the idea that there is an intellectual place where a person can stand which allows them to know what's 'really' going on with a culture to which that person is not indigenous. (And I'm moving from the point here, not so much responding to your comments as to the ideological structure that has historically brought that sort of comment into being. Sorry.)

          •  The only flaws I see in your point.. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            sandbox, Smoh, Kevskos

            Are that you seem to be comparing modern versions of these religions and not their original intent.

            For example...

            Today Christianity is about the 'Father Son and the Holy Ghost' but that is far less true in the first century. Much of the polytheistic nature of modern Christianity is from the early Catholic Church trying to absorb the polytheisms of Europe at the time.

            Nor do I believe that Jews in the second century BCE thought arguing with God made you a good Jew.

            I am discussing 'founding principles' not modern interpretations.

            Christianity and Islam were founded on Judaism, but under the pretext that modern Judaism (at the time) had lost its way and were attempts to go back to the original intent of the religion.

            This is a simplification, but fundamentally true...

            Not only can a small group of dedicated people change the world, its the only thing that ever has.

            by fToRrEeEsSt on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 04:58:58 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  The concept of 'original intent' is questionable. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              CroneWit

              Can you really, honestly discuss the 'founding principles' of an organically developed indigenous culture? Because if you're talking about the point at which the Talmud was written, then absolutely it was understood that arguing with God was inherent in ('fundamental', even) being a Jew.

              And really,

              Christianity and Islam were founded on Judaism, but under the pretext that modern Judaism (at the time) had lost its way and were attempts to go back to the original intent of the religion.

              No.

              That's a later construction.

              •  You do realize that the Talmud... (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Smoh, Kevskos, Sandino

                Is post NT (well contemporary and later) and hardly the text to base 'founding principles' of Judaism on?

                I must admit I am losing confidence in your expressed expertise here and will leave the conversation at that...

                Not only can a small group of dedicated people change the world, its the only thing that ever has.

                by fToRrEeEsSt on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 05:16:01 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  Neither Judaism nor Hinduism were "founded" (0+ / 0-)

                They evolved.  The terms refer to a set of beliefs that were taught, argued about, and written about over hundreds of years, going back into the legendary periods of their histories.  And their religious writings contain the traces of these earlier versions of custom, beliefs and ideas.

                In the case of the Hebrew scriptures, the texts themselves were shaped according to beliefs of last couple of centuries before the Common Era, but the older substrates are still there if you look (as folks like Wellhausen showed).

                So yeah, fToRrEeEsSt's doin' it wrong.

                [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 11:16:47 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  How do you explain Abraham arguing with God? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              CroneWit

              You wrote:

              Nor do I believe that Jews in the second century BCE thought arguing with God made you a good Jew.
              But they included in Genesis a story where Abraham did argue with God.  And in Exodus a story where Moses argued with God.

              And what about the midrash about how halacha is not decided in heaven, even if a voice comes down and rules against the majority?  Was that not fairly ancient?  How far do you think that is from original intent?

              •  Well i am not sure pleading for mercy... (0+ / 0-)

                is arguing. but that could be semantics so I will call it a toss up.

                And he did not 'argue' when told to sacrifice his own son.

                So though there may be examples of 'arguing' with God it is hardly a major theme one can pull from the OT as the basis of a founding principle.

                None the less it is open to interpretation which is one of the main problems of the Bible in that it contradicts itself enough one can argue many different views from it.

                So I will leave it as my opinion that the Bible does not give enough consistent examples for me to feel confident that its supportive/promoting arguing with god.

                Your opinion is as valid as mine though...

                Not only can a small group of dedicated people change the world, its the only thing that ever has.

                by fToRrEeEsSt on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 06:12:30 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  The very name Yisroel (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Diamond Mind

                  in Hebrew can mean "Strives with God", or  "one that struggled with the divine angel" (Josephus), "one who has prevailed with God" (Rashi).

                  America—We built that!

                  by Mokurai on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 10:18:26 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  It can mean a lot of things... (0+ / 0-)

                    but one must look at the context of time frame and who is doing the translating and when.

                    It can also just mean descendant of Jacob.

                    Remember Josephus comes to us in Greek not Hebrew so its all translation...

                    Not only can a small group of dedicated people change the world, its the only thing that ever has.

                    by fToRrEeEsSt on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 10:31:32 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  You're reasoning backwards. (0+ / 0-)

                      "Israel" means "descendant of Jacob" because in the story God gives Jacob the new name of Israel.  And he got that name because he (in the story) wrestled with God's angel.

                      And we don't see Torah only in translation.   In services, the Torah is read in the original.  We don't need Josephus to translate it into Greek and then read a translation from Greek to English.  

          •  Not beside the point, TiaRachel, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            librarisingnsf

            but Meta to it.  And being either Meta to, or going 'sub' (ie into the depth & breadth of history/culture) is the only way of keeping a discussion like this form devolving into a shallow exchange of unexamined superficialities and/or cultural 'givens'.

            (and btw TiaRachel I'm really enjoying & appreciating your contributions here.)

        •  "their founding principles are generally the same. (0+ / 0-)

          On what do you base this assertion?  And what do you mean by 'founding principles'?

          •  What I mean is... (0+ / 0-)

            When Christianity and then later Islam split off from Judaism  they both were attempting to some degree to go back to the roots of Judaism believing that it had lost its way at that point in time.

            So if Judaism started with early Judaism, and Christianity and Islam started to attempt to go back to early Judaism, then you have 3 religions all started on generally the same founding principles.

            Though obviously due to the time scale and the very fact the other religions existed you do see some variance in each religion in their early days.

            With Christianity there is little doubt Christ was rebelling against the Temple and the (corrupt) entity it had become with the intent of bringing Judaism back to its earlier state (only after his death was their the idea of a new religion and even then it wasn't till Paul got hold of the reins that there was any real divergence from basic Judaism).

            With Islam there is some room for argument but then generally held belief is that Mohammed belonged to a group of monotheist that broke off from Judaism because of idolatry (Hanifs) and later added his own religious experiences to form the religion. None the less there is little doubt Islam stems from Judaism with much of the OT included in the Koran in one form or another.

            Obviously there is an element of subjectivity here because of both semantics (what is a founding principle is somewhat opinion) and the time differences between the creations of the religions causing some variation (Though not really any more than say the differences between Christian sects of today).

            None the less I think you can see what i'm getting at here...

            Not only can a small group of dedicated people change the world, its the only thing that ever has.

            by fToRrEeEsSt on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 09:45:47 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  The founding principles of Judaism are (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            CroneWit

            widely held to be

            Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.

            Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

            with later formulations added on that basis, such as
            It has been told thee, O man, what is good: to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.

            What is hateful to you, do not do to others. That is the Torah and the Prophets. The rest is commentary.

            On the other hand, the founding principle of Christianity can be argued to be
            Love thy neighbor as thyself.
            except among those impoverished souls for whom only faith counts, and specifically belief in Jesus's crucifixion and resurrection, because
            If Christ be not risen, then our faith is in vain.
            The founding principles of Islam are claimed in the Qur'an to be peace (salaam) and submission (islam) to the will of God, bismillah arrahman arrahim (In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful).

            So, not at all the same in expression, but with significant overlap in the realm of selflessness if taken seriously.

            I would take serious practitioners of any of those three over the people who cherry-pick their religious texts in search of a superior moral justification for selfishness.

            America—We built that!

            by Mokurai on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 10:33:54 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  "serious practitioners of any of those three" (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              CroneWit

              Echoing R. Moshe Ben Maimon, who said The righteous of all nations have a portion in the world to come.

              I have a number of friends who have practiced Zen or Chan Buddhism, which looks as religious practice as a sort of tool to achieve The Way.  And any of the major world religions can be used as such a path.

              [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 Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 01:15:13 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Especially since Judaism wasn't really "founded" (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            CroneWit

            It has no clear beginning (as is true of, say, Hinduism).  Its founders are legendary, and possibly mythical.  And during most of that time, the Hebrews and later the Jews clearly disagreed rather heatedly just what it was that they did believe.

            To have founding principles, you have to be founded.  Judaism wasn't founded at all in that sense.

            [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 11:21:24 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  I don't see it overall, no. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CroneWit

      Remember the original diary was talking about people suggesting that the NT was a kinder, gentler version of the OT?

      So no, I don't see the abject barbarianism of the OT, and in fact, you are abiding by the 10 commandments.  (Hopefully you'll also follow most of the holiness code that I posted, too. I am surprised that an atheist follows the 1st and 4th commandments, but whatever.)  And if you're following the OT laws, to serve as guidelines to live by in a civilized society, then that is as much praise of the OT that I need.

      You can forget all the supernaturalism if you like, or treat it as a morality tale.

      •  Well in a way it is... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Smoh, gustynpip, CroneWit

        There are far fewer deaths, plagues, acts of incest, etc...in the NT than the OT. Though this is probably more a refection of some 1500 years of civilization than any specific intent of the authors.

        As far as the commandments go...

        The first is easy since there is no god for me to put above, though you are correct that the 4th is basically irrelevant to my life. (Though that is also generally true for all believers but the most orthodox, so...).

        Anyway I was making a point that there is wisdom in these religious texts even to an atheist more than trying to express how I live my life by the commandments.

        Not only can a small group of dedicated people change the world, its the only thing that ever has.

        by fToRrEeEsSt on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 05:10:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not if you count the afterlife (0+ / 0-)

          In the NT, any non-believer goes to hell forever in the afterlife and gets tortured.

          It's a short step from there to having people try to torture you in this life to try to "save" you (and anybody who might use you as a role model) from the same fate.

          •  Chapter & verse, please. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            millwood

            for --

            In the NT, any non-believer goes to hell forever in the afterlife and gets tortured.
            •  Yea this is a bit ambiguous... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              CroneWit

              Since what we call 'hell' today is at best only briefly and subjectively mentioned in the Bible.

              The problem with discussing religions is they change over time and sometimes its hard to separate modern beliefs from their origins.

              This is why my chain of posts here is specifically referring to these religions in their earliest states.

              Unfortunately is does not take long for a religion, once popular, to get corrupted by the power it has over its followers thus leading to sometimes vast changes from their earliest incarnations.

              One need only look from the teaching of Jesus to the Vatican of today to see how vast the changes can be.

              Not only can a small group of dedicated people change the world, its the only thing that ever has.

              by fToRrEeEsSt on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 10:23:00 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  And whosoever lives and believes in me shall never (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              CroneWit

              Look at the following text from John 11, which goes

              And whosoever lives and believes in me shall never die.
              This is used in some Protestant funeral rites, and is commonly understood to mean that "those that don't believe in [Christ]" are, well, SOL.

              Certainly, the complex of beliefs around the Adversary, Hell, and Damnation are probably Iranian in origin, and they do appear to have been current contemporary with the First Century of the common era when Jesus lived, and after when the Gospels were composed.   You may well be right that they are not spelled out explicitly in the Christian cannon, but it's not coincidential that Satan gets more than a few mentions, and essentially none in the Hebrew scripture.  The later's the case most,  I think, because the Redactors (such as Ezra) had mostly finished their work before Zoroasterism had influenced Jewish thought much.

              I suspect that it is possible to hold strong Christian beliefs and not believe in the traditional Christian Hell, but I think that even if these beliefs are post NT, they are at least common in Christian belief.   Even if they have more to do with Vergil and Hellenistic conceptions of the afterlife than they do with what the Early Christians wrote or actually believed.

              [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 11:54:33 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  It's a combination of multiple verses (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              CroneWit, Paul Rogers

              John 8:24

              I told you that you would die in your sins, for you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he.
              (If you don't believe Jesus is son of God, you will "die in your sins" -- which means go to hell)

              Mark 9:47-48

              ... it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell,
              where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.
              (If you go to hell, you suffer eternal fire that is never quenched.)

              Also Rev 20:15

              ...and if any one's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
              (sinners are thrown into the lake of fire)

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