Bible Study Encore

It has been brought to my attention that the following is not a balanced portrayal of the study.  Keep in mind that:

– I left out all of the lighthearted and positive conversation that made up the majority of the study

– I focus on the points of contention and highlight the reactions of a few people

I hadn’t been to bible study since I showed the video For the Bible Tells Me So.  Sickness, weather, and family visits had all conspired delay the next visit.

This time, we watched a video study on the Psalms.

I can still find beautiful passages in the Psalms and thought I could learn something from others’ perspectives.  And I missed everyone. 

We started off with a question of  how we felt about redemption.  Two people shared heartbreaking stories of how they felt too unworthy to ask for forgiveness, how much they felt their depravity still, and how glad they were to know about their unworthiness and filth so they could give it to Jesus. 

I contemplated the new freedom I have not to make myself miserable for not meeting some imaginary and contradictory ideal.  I felt so bad for those women who shared about the guilt they buried themselves in so as to be more needy of Jesus. 

Then we read Psalm 1 and were asked to share some initial thoughts.

There was some glowing praise about the metaphor of the tree by living waters who always has fruit.

One woman (not considered a true Christian by the others since she meditates and rarely goes to church) said that she thought it was too simplistic.  People aren’t all good or all wicked.

Silence.

Then Big Pastor mentioned that they loved the verse about delighting on the laws of the Lord and meditating on them day and night.  He mentioned that evangelicals are not good at delighting, but prefer rules.

I opened my mouth.  I pointed out that the law referred to in this Psalm was likely the first 5 books, especially Deuteronomy, Numbers and Leviticus.  And that some of those laws were not to be delighted in.  Most of them.  Such as those about how to kill rebellious teenagers. 

 “Are we supposed to contemplate these laws with delight?  Where is the discernment?  How is it unlike focusing on rules to glory in thinking about such rules?

“I can delight in the few verses about taking care of the widows, orphans and strangers, but not all of them!”

Silence and palpable dread swirled inside me.  To me, two of them actually looked angry.  They refused to make eye contact and their faces looked strained as they actually gritted their teeth.  The leader looked distressed.  Of course, this was the first time he led a study during the past 4 years and I was not following the script.

One sweet lady piped up, “I always thought it was talking about the saved and unsaved and our relationship with Jesus and eternal rewards.”

“That doesn’t make sense from the passage.  It was written during a time with no concept of  the afterlife.  Blessings and cursings were material and in the present.  The concepts of an eternal hell* don’t appear until Jesus’s time.  Quite a bit later.”  I pipe up.

The same two people stared at the floor in what looked like exasperation.  Why are Christians afraid to look at the Bible?  Especially when reading a verse that tells you to delight and meditate on its laws?  A verse they are going to force the children to memorize.

We watched the video guide that went with it.  It was about an intimate personal relationship with Jesus.  A pretty young woman drawing in a graveyard wishing for some lover to fix her deep pain somehow correlated with a psalm about bad things for bad people and good things for ‘good’ people (whom I assume tithed to the priests as per ‘delighting in the law’). 

I did not get the connection at all. 

Neither did the leader.  He apologized for not understanding how it fit together and mentioned that he, as a married man, felt a bit creeped out by the whole intimate relationship thing with Jesus.

I grinned and quoted HeIsSailing’s great line about his “homoerotic relationship with Jesus” and his discomfort with singing worship songs that sounded like they’d been written by a 12 year old girl. 

(I think HIS meant they were suited for a 12 year old girl, and I disagree, having been one and knowing the damage and weird pressure it causes there too, but I digress 🙂

Silence.  Obviously, I lack comedic timing.  Or maybe the appropriate audience.  Or both 🙂

A very gracious woman jumped in. 

“How can we be righteous?  Is knowing Jesus enough to make us good people?”

“All you need to do is to love the Lord your God with all your heart and that’s it.  Everything will fall into place.” Stated one man with great authority.

I bite my lip and visibly shake.  Everyone notices.  I am asked to share why I disagree.

“What god?  We all know of those who did terrible things but sincerely loved their god.  It could have been the love of their god that drove them to do nasty things. ”

“Well, the god of the bible!” said the man sarcastically and impatiently.

“Which god in the bible?  The one who demands the killing of rebellious teenagers?  Or the one who calls for justice for the poor?  You can support almost any kind of god with the bible. 

“I didn’t help my neighbour whose husband committed suicide and who had several children with disabilities.  I was too busy going to prayer meeting, leading youth group, going to church services, special meetings and multiple weekly bible studies.  Add that to work and school, and it was impossible for me to help.  But I was loving god as best as I knew how.”

The leader jumped in.  “Ok,  I guess we all have a distorted view of god somehow.  Back to the study.  It says here to read Matt 25:44-45.

 44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

   45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

“Ouch!” I say.

“So,” said one of the ladies, “I guess all we have left is the hope that Christ forgives us.”

“Yes,” agreed the man.  “And since the bible says he does, he does.  I mean, that’s all we have.”

I stare at the floor.  I did not come to tell them they are wrong.   

After most of the people left, the leader of the study came up to me.

“Where did that come from?  You seem like a completely different person than you were last time I saw you!  Are you ok?” 

I assured him I wasn’t a Communist spy and that I was actually doing really well! 

He looked relieved and then started asking about bicycles.  I appreciate him and his wife.  All they wanted to know was that I was ok and then found a common interest. 

I can learn from them.

I think that was the last bible study we will be welcome at.

*and ‘eternal’ is debatable

25 thoughts on “Bible Study Encore

  1. Well, as The Cognitive Dissenter said on her last post “Some Truths Are Not Useful”. Did you follow the link to the arguments for lying?

  2. D'Ma says:

    I can relate to much of what you’ve said here. I have a feeling if I open my mouth at bible study I probably won’t be welcome there very much anymore either. On this side of doubt, I find it particularly odd that instead of helping the doubter find answers to the questions, they’d rather the doubter just shut up. It’s probably because they don’t have the answers themselves and it scares them to death to think about the questions.

  3. It’s very telling how honest questions are perceived as so threatening and frightening to some believers. I’ve said it before but it’s worth saying again: You ROCK, prairie nymph!

  4. Ahab says:

    It’s awesome that you’re asking the tough questions at Bible study and challenging others to look critically at their faith. Kudos.

    You made an insightful comment about “which God” in the Bible they were referring to — the God of the Bible is a very schizophrenic deity with many incompatible aspects, which makes some believers uncomfortable.

    • prairienymph says:

      Last year, as a fervent fundy Christian, I led a bible study on the aspects of god’s character that people love or hate. I asked everyone to bring a passage of the bible dealing with some aspect of god’s personality or character. I had hoped to be able to integrate all the different and contradictory parts in some sweet unifying theory. I didn’t want to have a false god by only focusing on the nice parts, so I sincerely tried to find a more complete picture of god.
      When one person (the one considered not a true Christian) brought up the genocidal, blood loving god who demanded child sacrifice, I tried so hard to make it work with the picture of all loving all powerful parent. My answers didn’t satisfy me.
      Now I’m listening to the same answers. And I wonder, does it satisfy them?

  5. HeIsSailing says:

    Bible Study. What a joke.

    I have led and hosted many of these so-called “Bible Studies”. I hosted one in my house about the time I started blogging my doubts and fears over the Christian Faith. I have been witness to many, many episodes like you describe in this article. Nobody attends Bible Study to study the Bible. They attend to re-affirm their Faith. They learn new ways to fit the Bible into what they already believe. They are not there to actually learn anything new, to challenge what they think they know, or come away with any new revelations. I remember many times when I wanted to ask an unconventional or uncomfortable question, or express an uncommon opinion, but did not out of fear of what the others would say. I remember when such questions were asked, and everybody would freeze up, waiting for what the study leader would say.

    Good Grief. What slavery of the mind!

    • D'Ma says:

      Poor, deluded HeIsSailing….there is nothing new under the sun. What new revelation could there possibly be? (*sarcasm*)

      You are absolutely right. People at Bible Studies don’t want to be challenged and most of them don’t think they know anything. They KNOW they know. The ones who do question and doubt stay quiet because they know the reaction they’ll get when the speak up.

  6. grasshopper says:

    I never had the guts to speak up in those circumstances. I simply faded away and was apparently not missed. I agree with HeIsSailing…”bible study” is a ludicrous name for these types of gatherings.

  7. dsholland says:

    I remember feeling the same way, it is not uncommon. http://evangelicaliberal.wordpress.com/ talks about the same feelings in his blog.
    Work it out using your body your mind and your heart, but don’t pick on the little kids.

    • prairienymph says:

      I’m not sure who is picking on the kids from your statement.
      The kids are in another part of the house during our study. They don’t hear my comments. I am the person who plays with them, babysits them, and sings with them.
      Are you referring to the church as picking on the kids?
      Forcing them to memorize certain scriptures and telling them that it will make them smart and good if they do and shaming them if they don’t? Telling them that they should only have close friends who are Christians and date Christians or they’ll be in danger of losing their faith or becoming ‘bad’? Telling them that homosexuality is a sin and that if they have those tendencies to pray it away or live a life of celibacy and never know what its like to fall asleep next to someone they love? To live always in a state of shame and disgust towards themselves and to feel ‘weak’ for not being able to change themselves? Being told that they can be loved by god only if they hate their non-perfection and regularly beat themselves up for it?
      I understand that not all churches are this way, but this one is. I think that is a lot more damaging than asking the kids parents to look more closely at the bible. 🙂

      • dsholland says:

        My intent was to say Matthew 22:37 without quoting the bible. It isn’t that far from what “theo” said.

        I was also trying to say I have been as disillusioned as you seem to be and you are not alone, others have felt that same disconnection (1 Corinthians 10:13).

        If you can enjoy the metamorphosis you should have more patience with the caterpillars (Romans 14:13).

        🙂

      • prairienymph says:

        Good reminder 🙂
        Sometimes I wish people had not been so patient with me, nor respected my religion so much. I wonder how I would have reacted if I had been challenged as a teenager instead of an adult. Maybe I would have saved some years slogging through fundamentalism, convinced I was sinful and stupid. But then, maybe I wouldn’t have met my husband.
        Different people need different approaches, I guess. I think it will be trial and error to find out which and what 🙂

  8. theo(il)logical says:

    On one level , as you describe, you may be challenging your Bible study friends’ central beliefs and assumptions in ways that (1) confronts them with epistemological challenges (that is, more simply, potentially gives them causes for doubt), and (2) causes them to question your level of orthodoxy and wonder if something is up with you. However, I want to suggest that something else is going on that is equally upsetting — perhaps even more scandalous — to your Bible study group. You skirt around it in your post, but it forms a subtext to what you’re saying. I want to propose an other way of looking at things to help you see things from an other perspective, and so you can appreciate a little more what’s going on socially.

    On another level, what you are doing and how you’re behaving — as opposed to what you are saying or, more to the point, the specific content of what you are saying — is detrimental to one of the central aims of the Bible study group itself: “cultivating intimacy.” James Beilo (an anthropologist’s who’s focus is on evangelical Christianity in the US) gets to the nub of this (especially chapter 3): http://books.google.ca/books?id=_0j0cV0yzzYC&printsec=frontcover&dq=james+bielo&source=bl&ots=snHGyU9wMO&sig=rzaJJ9cd4VkS-8i4lYhlpajDSoE&hl=en&ei=yZtzTaj9GsnogAfn_LyvBw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CDkQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q&f=false For Beilo, Bible study groups are a key means for creating intimate bonds between the groups’ members that, in a way, re-create/simulate/imitate the bond individual believers seek with an invisible and intangible god. When you break from the script — that is, when you say what you intuitively know you aren’t supposed to say, such as certain struggles or doubts like you discuss this is previous posts of yours — you’re working against the religious experience that everyone else is trying so hard to cultivate. Your comments are unwelcome not simply because they’re potentially heretical, but because your comments are counter productive to creating a certain emotional-spiritual experience. The questions you’re asking don’t scare them because they don’t have the answer (with time they can figure out a response that fits into the logic of their belief system), but because your behaviour jams the work of the group in creating a sense of god’s presence or whatever.

    You ask: So what? All this goes to say that you’re a fly in your Bible study groups’ ointment. If you keep this up or up the ante, I wager that you’ll soon find yourself left behind in the friendships you have there (adding to your frustration), especially if your socialize with these people primarily and nearly exclusively in a Bible study or Bible study-ish setting. You’re not going to argue these people out of their positions. They simply don’t care; they don’t want to engage with the debates you raise so much as move on from them and get back to cultivating intimacy. Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s the impression that you’ve given me. As such, I see you and your husband as having three options: (1) fall back in line and play by the rules; (2) find an other Bible study group or church that is open to having the kinds of discussions you are seeking; or (3) get out of your bible study group and leave all the angst of it behind you and find new friend in the life you want. I suspect that (1) isn’t really an option; and I gather that (2) isn’t where you or your husband are at right now. So why not go for (3)? Not that I’m advocating for option (3), let alone (1) or (2). I’m just interested, because I haven’t heard you explain it yet: Why are you sticking around? Why have you even been bothering to go to Bible study?

    • prairienymph says:

      First of all, I decided only to make those comments that I would have as a Christian.
      Throughout our history with the group, I have always asked questioned and challenged things. I haven’t changed, only the scope of my questions has broadened.
      My questions were welcomed as I worked through issues from my church background, such as when women were allowed to speak and what they were allowed to say. They were welcomed as we challenged certain aspects of evangelicalism. We asked to go through _So you don’t want to go to church anymore?_ as our bible study last year and everyone agreed and seemed to get a lot out of our discussions around it.

      How can I call what I have a friendship if I am not allowed to ask questions? How can you cultivate intimacy if you refuse to engage and only present a false front? You can have false intimacy, but it is safe, not satisfying. I believe that we were welcomed to the group because we broke down some of the barriers that the false fronts gave. Our questions and break with conventions were really encouraged.

      Some of these people do care beyond comfortable doctrine compatibilities. I will continue to have a friendship with some of them outside the group.
      We have gone a few times just to let people know that we care. To simply stop coming without explanation would have been hurtful. Our aim was to wean ourselves off slowly so that it wouldn’t be as noticed. This group has been our main support for almost the whole time we’ve lived here. That is hard to just cut off without notice.
      The group claimed that it wanted to be a social support, not a bible study, which was great for a few months! Then they felt guilty for just enjoying each other’s company instead of going through the bible.
      We would still be welcomed there, questions and all, if not for one couple. I think that will be our last bible study. We will still try and go to a few social events.

      • theo(il)logical says:

        Prairie Nymph, you’re response is interesting. I think you’re attempting to spin a narrative about yourself vis-à-vis your Bible Study group (BSG)/evangelicalism that you may want to look at a little more self-critically. By self-critically, I mean: become more aware of how your position in the group is changing as you transition out of a religious world view, evangelical Christianity, and your BSG itself. Let me point out some curious things you said; hopefully this helps you get what I’m saying:

        1) You mention that you “decided only to make those comments that I would have as a Christian.” Of course, you are no longer a Christian; by your own admission you are now an atheist (or am I wrong?). You wrote: “I haven’t changed, only the scope of my questions has broadened.” Of course, we both know that this isn’t really true. Whether or not your BSG is aware of this or not is beside the point. You are posturing yourself in a particular way and deliberately jamming the efforts of the group to create the kind of experience it is seeking. And I suspect that the BSG is slowly picking up on this; they’ve already been asking if everything is alright with you.

        2) You wrote: “How can I call what I have a friendship if I am not allowed to ask questions? How can you cultivate intimacy if you refuse to engage and only present a false front?” You certainly are asking your questions, but are you being honest with your friends about who you are now? Will you ever break the news to them?

        3) You wrote: “Our questions and break with conventions were really encouraged.” Of course they were. But always within certain bounds. The “So you don’t want to go to church anymore?” topic is quite trendy right now among many evangelicals; for example, see the emerging church movement. But, at the risk of sounding trite, isn’t the conclusion always more or less the same (Protest-ant) argument?: “Just do church differently.” (After all, the entire Protestant movement is really just a whole industry driven by variations of this very same supposedly avant garde question that you wanted to take up with your group.)

        4) But here is the crux of the matter: The group may have originally “claimed that it wanted to be a social support, not a bible study” but everyone ultimately “felt guilty for just enjoying each other’s company instead of going through the bible” and so it shifted into the BSG. This should tell you something. These people want — perhaps know no other way — to socialize in a very particular way. Moreover, they feel closest to each other as friends when creating a sense of God’s presence among them. How is your new found dis-belief affecting the group dynamic? And can your friendships survive dropping the BS with your BSG friends?

        5) You assert that you ”would still be welcomed there, questions and all, if not for one couple.” First, I’d wager that this couple has much narrower horizon than, perhaps, the other group members; but every BSG has one or two of those. Second, even if they weren’t there, would you want to stay in the BSG for Bible study? And again, why or why not?

        I really respect your statement that “To simply stop coming without explanation would have been hurtful.” I get it entirely. But why raise a ruckus you’ve been so intent on slipping out quietly or so “slowly so that it wouldn’t be as noticed?” You’ve been signaling along to your group that something is amiss. Why? Have you been looking for a certain response from them? Were you trying to subversively “de-convert” them? Are you angry at (some of) them? Do you feel left out of the experience of intimacy they are trying to cultivate through Bible study? . . . Whatever your answer, I still think that you need to honestly consider the social dynamics of your BSG as you make sense of your transition. To be blunt, you seem to be spinning a narrative in which your BSG’s evasion of your questions are a personal slight. I’m suggesting that your perception that “that was the last bible study [you] will be welcome at” isn’t personal as such. Your BSG is just tired of your disruption of the experience they are trying to nurture.

      • prairienymph says:

        Some good questions to think about.
        1) I guess I fit under the category of weak athiest. I like the term mystical athiest or humanist. I also fit under liberal Christian in many respects.
        I meant that my character and personality hasn’t radically changed. I still want to be a people pleaser and I still want to challenge the status quo. I was asking questions about cultural context before, but not to the extent that I challenged the concept that the entire OT was written with Jesus in mind and should be interpretted through that lens. I am also not so easily cowed by a church authority as I was before when I was afraid it was sin to challenge those ‘given authority by god’.
        So, yes, I have changed in some ways. But, not so much.

        2) I have been open and honest with the pastor’s wife and her husband, the spiritual seeker, and another couple in the group. The only poeple who don’t know are the couple I mentioned and a few others who have not been regular attenders.

        3) I hadn’t really been sure of the boundaries. It looks like a continuum to me, and different groups draw different lines in the sand. It may seem obvious to you what they are, but me wearing pants and going bareheaded to church was pushing a boundary in my old church and wasn’t something I could continue doing if I continued going. That seems so ridiculous to me now, and so does pretending that the OT isn’t Jewish.

        4) We are still friends with some of the people from the group – those that we were friends with outside the study.

        5) I think we would go still, but not as regularly as before. I really enjoy these people and wouldn’t want to miss the social events but I think those would be stressful now since that lady is easily stressed. I always respected her but never had much in common with her.

        I didn’t mean I wasn’t personally welcomed 🙂 I didn’t spend much time (ok, I didn’t spend any time) editing. I don’t take it personally, it isn’t a matter of who the group will be loyal to, the convervative couple or us.
        I was testing the waters to see how far I could push comfort zones. I get the feeling that the tolerance level for my questions is too low and I could only go if I kept silent. Which I don’t do well.

        I don’t know if I am unconsciously trying to deconvert anyone.
        One of the attitudes I would like to change are the defeatist ‘i’m not so smart so i’ll just listen to whatever the pastor says even if it doesn’t make sense to me’, but I don’t think that this is the venue for that.
        I am alarmed by this church’s tendency towards literalism. I do see relationships and people harmed by their emphasis on male headship for one. So, I do want them to be a little more liberal or at least a little more honest about which parts of the bible they hold as absolute truth and why. The group really welcomed my critique (and praise) of my former church. Sharing my struggles and questions had brought us closer before, but I guess they held to the illusion that their church was very different and therefore immune to questions?

      • theo(il)logical says:

        1) Fair enough. I wonder then if a better term to describe yourself would be agnostic. If you continue to believe in some kind of metaphysical reality (as would be suggested by your interest in mysticism), I suspect that you hold out the possibility that something is out there or in yourself. I’m curious, why have you gravitated to the term “atheist” over other terms?

        2) A blog post about that would be interesting. What did your conversation with the pastor’s wife go like?

        3) You’re right that the limits of boundaries change from group to group. Some groups have very broad horizons (e.g. liberal Christians) and others much narrow margins of acceptance (e.g. evangelicals). Of course, there’s degrees and variations within each of these groups. Others have no vision for those outside their own exclusive group (i.e. Westboro Baptists). Others still seemingly have unlimited horizons (i.e. Unitarian-Universalists), but even so they are not boundless — boundaries still exist, if it takes longer to arrive at the perimeter of acceptance. In any case, it is important to recognize that ALL groups have boundaries. And this point isn’t just applicable to religious groups either.

        4) Good for you.

        5) Remember that fear often comes from a very vulnerable place. You may be surprised that this woman and her husband have their doubts too, but are trying to hang on with their fingernails. I’m not saying that this is the case; I don’t know. However, it seems to me that being easily stressed over supposedly pithy questions of a supposedly eternal and unchanging truth is a sign that something’s going on.

        Defeatism sucks. I don’t get why some people don’t want to think either. Oh wait, I do. ‘Cuz their world — their entire perspective on life — would collapse if they stepped outside the box of prescribed understanding. 🙂 It may seem so, but it doesn’t. The world actually becomes a more exciting place to live, doesn’t it Prairie Nymph?

  9. St.ain't says:

    Dear Nymph- I very much appreciate the honesty of your blog and your willingness to put yourself out there for comment. I have found humor, solace, and a refreshing viewpoint from your writingts.
    I found this post particularly puzzling, however, in your sentence “the concepts of heaven and hell don’t appear until later in Jesus’ time”.
    As a Jew, I must take gentle exception- we believe in a life after this life, and in a “hell”. There are Orthodox Jews who view certain verses as indicating that there is reincarnation.
    There are a number of quotes from the Tanakh (Jewish Bible) but the one I can readily recall is from Daniel 12:2, “Many of those that sleep in the dust …will awake, some to eternal life, others to reproaches…”
    What sets Judaism apart from Christianity is that we believe that G-d has told us to focus on THIS life and do good works here rather than spend our days and energies focused on the next life.
    That is one of the reasons I left Mormonism and came back to Judaism- I felt very much in my heart and soul that the obsessive focus on getting to the Celestial Kingdom was harmful to living my life here to the fullest. I find the belief in “tikan olam” that is, healing the world, more in keeping with G-d’s word than closing yourself off from others and shunning those that haven’t drunk the exact same flavor Kool-aid you’re drinking.
    I hear that same obsession with cherry vs. orange expressed in the comments from your fellow/sister Bible study group. Good for you to step away from the punch bowl and start thinking for yourself. I know from experience it can be a painful journey, but I look forward every day to reading about yours.

    • prairienymph says:

      Thanks for the correction! I had forgotten about the passage in Daniel.
      It isn’t clear, especially from the first five books of the OT, or the pentateuch? that heaven and hell are even on the radar. Christians and former Christians are generally very ignorant about Judaism, except from what they get from a literal reading of the OT and a few Ray Vanderlaan videos 🙂

      • theo(il)logical says:

        Actually, the idea of an afterlife in Judaism emerged relatively late and as a response to the problem of martyrdom around the time of the Maccabean revolt (166BCE). St.ain’t is correct to point out that Daniel 12:2 is evidence for belief in an afterlife and the resurrection. This is recognized as the first indubitable reference for a belief in the afterlife. However, as is now generally accepted by historians of religion, it is important to note that Daniel was written at the time of the Maccabean revolt (not, as the book itself claims, during the Persian and Babylonian period). Before this time, ancient Hebrew religion and society were hardly concerned with the existence of life after death or the fate of a soul after death; what mattered was living on through one’s progeny. Moreover, the idea of life after death remained a novelty until the first century CE with the rise of Pharisaism, rabbinic Judaism, and Christianity who were all receptive to the idea. By contrast, the Sadducees rejected the idea entirely.

      • prairienymph says:

        Thanks. I didn’t know that Daniel was written during the Maccabean revolt.

      • theo(il)logical says:

        I asked a friend who’s a specialist in all things Judaism. I completed my first MA with her. From what she told me, it would seem that the idea of reincarnation — as held by some Hasidim — is an even later development. The idea emerges in medieval Kabbalistic writings. Neither the Tanak or Talmud, for example, mention reincarnation. Of course, how Hasidim now chose to read newer beliefs back into the earlier texts is an other matter.

  10. dsholland says:

    Hmm, seems the dating of Daniel is still a matter of dispute. A quick read on Wiki states that the more recent dating is based on the presumption that it had to be written AFTER the prophesies (because of course how could the author know before hand 😉 )

    But WRT life after death, it seems to me the earliest record I can think of is Genesis 4:10 – Abel’s blood (the life of the flesh is in the blood) cried to God from the ground after he had been murdered. God even entreated Cain to “listen”. Does that sound particularly symbolic? If there was no continuance who was crying?

    Back in the mid 1800’s the idea of “higher” biblical (source) criticism became popular. This was the theory that claimed the Law was actually created by the priests after the return from captivity and to give the story credence to the gullible masses the priests claimed they “found” the scrolls. This source criticism theory postulated the OT was actually the combination of three different other written traditions.

    In the late 1970’s when I was still a pretty young Christian I came across this theory which was presented (as some theories are) as if the original 3 sources were documented (i.e existed and had been found). It shook my faith to the core because (after all) if the stories are built on a lie they are mere human fabrication (Just like Daniel).

    It took some reading before I realized there were no “original” texts to verify the theory. I then learned the basis of the argument was that, at the time (mid 1800’s), there was no record of writing existing around 1300 BC (when the text was supposed to have been written). Subsequently in the early 1900’s archeological discoveries revealed Semetic alphabet writing in the region well before the 1300 BC time frame (whoops).

    “Higher” criticism suffered a decline after these discoveries but some scholars still subscribe to the theory AFIK. Caveat emptor.

  11. That’s such a great story!

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