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Author Topic: The Rational Bible: Exodus
Brad-
Nelson
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Brad Nelson
Post Re: The Rational Bible: Exodus
on: November 5, 2018, 20:57
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The matter of graven images was a serious issue for a while in Christianity.

Reminds me of the time I had a small spat with a Catholic lady online on Facebook. I don’t know how or why the subject came up. And I don’t think I was trying to be obnoxious (much). But she had such a effusive and glowing spiritual post about the wooden baby Jesus in their church’s nativity scene, or something like that. And I asker her why that wasn’t a graven image.

It is, of course. But it comes down to what fills the seats in the churches. What people want. I was talking with Mr. Kung about universalism. I think the operative idea is this: Which religion is easier or more easily and outwardly pleasing? I would say that authentic Judaism (not necessarily what passes for it today) is harder than authentic Christianity (and definitely for what it passes for today).

Jesus clearly liberalized some of the old rules. He affirmed probably 99.9% of them but realized things like hand washing before eating and even working (if working miracles counts) on the Sabbath. (And if Jesus was God, the Sabbath laws don’t apply to him anyway….nor do any of them, really…except because they are God’s laws, God isn’t going to be a hypocrite and not obey them as well.)

Obviously the circumcision rule was cut. (Okay, pun definitely intended.) Yes, Jesus noted, as a general theme, how many observed the form of the laws but not the spirit. He had (has) an absolutely great point. But he didn’t then say “It’s okay to work on the Sabbath. It’s okay to kill. It’s okay to steal.” I think the gist of it was that to move deeper toward God’s will and purpose, it has to be deeper than mere forms. Or, one could say, a shallow, even non-existent belief, can be hidden behind outer forms. We know for a fact this is rampant in the Anglican and Catholic churches.

Whatever the case may be, this is still (mostly) an intramural argument. Islam is clearly an ugly appendage, masquerading as an Abrahamic faith. And perhaps many Jews see some of this in Christianity as well. But Mohammed was a butcher, a pervert, and probably even crazy. He most decidedly was not an authentic Jew as Jesus was (who, at the very least, was indeed a good man). And the kind of critiquing Jesus was doing was, as far as I understand, completely par for the course and not the least unusual….if he was just a rabbi. If, on the other hand, he was an incarnation of God, then all bets are off (or on).

It’s possible to have a foot in both (via the ideas, which Prager says is paramount in Judaism) because they’re not that different in the core ideas. But, of course, the cultures of these religions are hugely different and can probably be no more reconciled than Protestantism and Catholicism.

Brad-
Nelson
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Brad Nelson
Post Re: The Rational Bible: Exodus
on: November 5, 2018, 21:13
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One of the books on the Bible I read when young (and which I wish I still have, but God knows where and when it disappeared) said that the Israelites were kept for a generation in the wilderness because of their timidity in terms of invading the Promised Land. They sent spies representing each tribe into Israel. Two, Joshua (Ephraim) and Caleb (Judah) favored invasion, the rest didn’t.

I don’t think those events occur in Exodus, as I recall. Much of this must culminate in the next book, Leviticus. Prager has a book on Genesis but I don’t offhand see one on Leviticus. It’s a bit of a hodgepodge from what I remember in the Exodus book, if only because it wasn’t all in order. Prager said God wasn’t going to just march in and kill the Canaanites, for example. But when they engaged in child sacrifice and such, all bets were off. And it will be interesting to read the rest of the story from what you’ve said.

We obviously can’t know for sure whether these stories are back-dated and revised to make the Jews look like anything but butchers. But according to Prager, it is actually God Himself who does the butchering, not the Hebrews. And, as Prager notes, this book does not flinch from showing the Hebrews in a very bad light indeed. So who knows?

But if people are God’s creation, I guess they are his to dispose with as He wishes. And if the stakes are as high as putting humanity on the right path, then you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.

Prager has a lot of commentary on faith and belief as it relates to all these miracles that the Hebrews witness. He says that because they turn so easily from God despite all this witnessing that it’s a lesson for us. And I think he has somewhat of a point, although offhand I think most people who witnessed all those miracles would remain believers for quite some time. Even one would help. Who hasn’t asked for even one?

Prager also notes that it is by no means forbidden to argue with YHVH (lucky for Moses). In Exodus we see a somewhat relatable (if awesome and scary) God. I forget his exact words, but it made an impression on me. It was of the sort, “If you’re sitting back and waiting for a miracle until you find God, you might be waiting for a very long time because that’s not the way it works.” His overall message was sort of meeting God halfway. You have to make an effort. He also writes:

To attempt to be religious without practicing a specific religion is like trying to speak without speaking a specific language.

Fair enough. But I can’t find anything but discomfort in church. I’m sure I’m not alone in this regard.

Timothy-
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Post Re: The Rational Bible: Exodus
on: November 5, 2018, 22:08
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I think the history continued in Numbers, not Leviticus. Leviticus is where they had all the extra rules, such as the reason for the 2 (or even 4) sets of dishes. I don't know exactly what historical details are in which book after all this time.

Job certainly did some arguing with God, as William Safire pointed out in his book on it. For that matter, notice how Abraham bargained God into saving Sodom and Gomorrah if even 10 righteous men could be found in them. God probably knew they couldn't anyway, of course.

Brad-
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Brad Nelson
Post Re: The Rational Bible: Exodus
on: November 6, 2018, 08:45
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Right your are. Here's the summary of Numbers from Wiki. This is like episodic television. Same YHWH time, same YHWH channel. I gotta see how this ends.

Yes, Job and Abraham are good examples of how it is alright to argue with God. Whether God is just playing along to see what is in the hearts and minds of people or is really open to being persuaded is anyone’s guess.

Kung Fu Zu
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Kung Fu Zu
Post Re: The Rational Bible: Exodus
on: November 6, 2018, 08:49
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The link is to an article which discusses Jewish views to marriage outside the faith in Israel.

http://www.atimes.com/article/israels-arab-embrace-abroad-not-reflected-at-home/

I find some of the author's comments somewhat exaggerated, but overall the piece is informative.

Brad-
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Brad Nelson
Post Re: The Rational Bible: Exodus
on: November 6, 2018, 17:04
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Do you want my real thoughts unfiltered by political correctness? Of course you do.

Jews should first be wedded to God and then to another faithful Jew. Period. I totally agree that it’s best to reinforce themselves rather than to assimilate. They were not meant to assimilate. They were meant to set a standard for the rest of us.

Of course, they should start by not wedding themselves to Leftism. This isn’t exactly news to me, but Prager has another article on the subject: Left-Wing Jews: a Jewish and American Tragedy.

First, don’t wed Karl Marx. Then we can talk about whether they should marry an Arab or not.

Timothy-
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Post Re: The Rational Bible: Exodus
on: November 6, 2018, 17:40
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If you marry Karl Marx, you're probably a lot likelier to see nothing wrong with marrying an Arab, even a Muslim Arab. This works for gentiles as well as Jews.

The problem with Jews assimilating is that those who do tend to cease practicing the religion in any meaningful sense. They're ethnic Jews, but not religious or often even cultural Jews.

Brad-
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Brad Nelson
Post Re: The Rational Bible: Exodus
on: November 7, 2018, 14:01
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Probably the easiest, but still accurate, way to look at this entire situation is to see the God of the Torah as representing the path to holiness by way of self-denial. Jesus, as well, was representative of that God of self-denial.

The religion of most today — across all religions with the exception of most of Islam, Orthodox Judaism (I would suppose), and a few old-style Christian or Catholic congregations here and there — is self-fulfillment.

Self-fulfillment isn’t inherently a bad thing. There’s no inherent virtue in poverty, for instance. There’s no harm in productivity and creativity, in fashioning new things and new wonders. But if there is a God — and I believe there is — then making idols of ourselves is probably a very bad idea as we work toward an inner and outer type of fulfillment that is unrealistic to the point of being poisonous.

One can debate the virtues of self-denial, and perhaps even win the argument on points. But in this highly materialistic culture ever fed by new products and conveniences, the argument is almost irrelevant these days. The Hebrews couldn’t delay gratification for only 40 days in the desert when Moses went up the mountain. What chance has anyone today in a marketplace of super-abundance and non-stop messaging that your life is not complete as it is, for you need this new product.

Marx, at his very essence, was saying, “If you don’t have all you want in life, it is somebody else’s fault.” Right and wrong weren’t on the docket, fulfillment was, in this case economic fulfillment. You can formulate this someone-else’s-fault as a function of class, as he did, or of sexism or racism as is done today. But the fulfillment cult must always have a scapegoat for why people don’t have what they want. And because scapegoats are blameless by definition, truth itself becomes sacrificed on their altar as a matter of habit and thus virtue is turned on its head.

One of the difficulties in discussing Judaism, anti-Semitism, etc., is that not only aren’t a large portion of Jews following the Torah, but they are often their own worst enemies in regards to rejecting YHVH and joining the utopian fulfillment cult. Jews have by no means shown themselves to be immune and could be, as a people, amongst the worst. This is perhaps the main sticking point regarding Jesus who critiqued the material- and money-oriented ways of the priests of His time. Even Prager in his analysis of Exodus couldn’t come to denounce money as a possible idol that is worshipped.

Because humans desire, and there is no end to their desire, there is generally no fulfillment to be had. This produces the nastiness we see in the Left. Their cult isn’t working. It can’t ever work. Disappointment at not being as fulfilled and happy as one should be turns to grievance and blaming others. This, not the inane “Red-State/Blue-State” political struggle is the actual divide.

This is one reason I roll my eye’s at Prager’s “Happiness Hour” that he has every week on his radio show. It ought to be a “Goodness Hour,” not one regarding happiness. But this muck runs deep in Judaism (especially liberal ones from which Prager was spawned and did mostly escape, to his credit).

God is mostly a veneer, not a reality to many people. Perhaps that’s why I read this book. I’m looking to make God a reality as well. This Creative Creator likely wants us to be fulfilled, for sure — but by things other than “self-esteem” or various forms of narcissism. There’s nothing wrong with having stuff. But I think many people have made an idol of material things — as well as of their grievance for never having found that vast and deep sense of fulfillment promised by their creed.

Timothy-
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Post Re: The Rational Bible: Exodus
on: November 7, 2018, 15:31
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At times you sound a bit like Tevye -- a hardworking dairy farmer, after all -- wishing he could be rich. (His daughters, dreaming of an ideal marriage, sing, "For papa, make him a scholar. For mama, make him rich as a king." Though what they want for themselves is good looks.) Noting that he knows it's no sin to be poor, adds, "But it's no great honor either." And God definitely was much more than a veneer to Tevye. Of course, in the end Hodel got one of her wishes -- her eventual husband was their radical leftist tutor, and thus a scholar.

Brad-
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Brad Nelson
Post Re: The Rational Bible: Exodus
on: November 7, 2018, 17:46
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"But it's no great honor either.”

Indeed. It is not.

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