Jump to content

Re-reading The Bible - This Time Using My Head


Recommended Posts

When I read the bible the first time I did not apply any rigour around how I would analyze it because I wasn't analyzing it. At the time I was drinking god's spiritual water rather than testing it for contaminents.

 

Today I'd like to do some revisionist reading and see just how much I missed the first time.

 

So... lets say you had decided to wanted to re-read the bible. What strategy would you take?

 

For example...

 

Reading it on the PC works for me so I have found an online bible with a hoarde of versions that you can read online at Bible Gateway.

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?book_...&version=72

 

The other day I went through the versions and decided to re-read Genesis in Today's New International Version. What version would you choose?

 

*************

After selecting the chapter, I copied the first chapter into MS Word and then as I read I added comments after any verse that generates a thought like this following Gen 1:6:

<<Mongo - here we see the idea that ancient people may have believed that the water from the sky came from an ocean or a chamber of water up above.>>

 

As well, at the end of each chapter, if I am inspired I can write a commentary of my views on it and/or ditto at the end of the book.

 

Exodus would get its own Word document until I'd read all 66 books should I get that far.

 

In the end... were I to complete the mission, I'd have a set of searchable documents with annotations and comments.

 

*************

However... as a bigger question, I would like to scan through the books I read in search of certain traits

 

Clear items for me are:

Ambiguous Retribution

Existance of Heaven & Hell

Atonement Process

God's values (e.g. being believed, obeyed and worshiped)

Contradictions

 

I'm debating the value of spotting or marking these items

Miracles

Rituals

Who pleases god and who peeves him

References to other religions e.g. Baal

Comments in Infidels, idolators and the apostate ones

Specific laws to the Jews

Sepcific instructions to people

Passages for/against the four Spiritual Laws

Clarity of Prophecy

What/who does god hate

 

 

What aspects of the doctrine do you feel are worth pointing out.

 

**************

In general, how would you approach the bible if you wanted to read it again with open eyes.

 

What would you not do?

 

Have you done this?

 

Mongo

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have done something similar to this and there is no one method or right way. I've yet to actually find any one way that works best for me so I tend to use a number of methods depending on what my current objective happens to be. That being said, I would say your objectives seem to be very broad/ambitious. You might want to come up with a little more focus or you're going to really have a major project on your hands.

 

I also like to use www.crosswalk.com since they have a few more translations online that the other folks don't host. You can also use something like eSword so that you can get access to the various versions without being connected. I personally don't like the eSword interface but the extra images and some of the other features are very nice.

 

As for the versions I like to use, I think the Bible in Basic English is the easiest to read and I've found it isn't a bad translation either. I also use Young's Literal Translation and the New Revised Standard Version. They are all xian translations so the OT will be skewed to their perspective in the messianic passages. Then something like the Jewish Publication Society (which reads a lot like the King James) is nice for working those out. Something based on the critical texts (I want to say that NA27 is the latest and greatest of this but I could be wrong) is what I think is "best" but that's a relative term.

 

Again, I read your lists and just the 5 items you have listed for yourself could be more than enough depending on how much time/effort you plan on spending on this project. You might want to just think about giving the books a quick skim and then try to come up with a better strategy from that?

 

As for me I went back into just trying to see how the bible really fit into the historical picture. Originally I was taught (and believed to my core) that it was historical "truth" in every sense of the word. Now that I've read up on the what the surrounding cultures have in their histories and have done some comparison it appears the bible doesn't really know what it's talking about in many (most) cases. It comes down to the bible being right and the others (more than one society) being wrong or the others being right and the bible being wrong. Not one for such conspiracies I've had to dismiss the biblical accounts. This has also led to me look into other things but it was my primary reason for reading the (entire) thing again (although not in book order). I used to have a lot of really nifty data on my PC about this, but a flaky hard drive and no back up did most of it in about a year ago.

 

mwc

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bible Gateway My on-line reference of choice...

 

Otherwise: NIV, KJV, Lamsa covers most views in common use.

 

Esword is also handy, since it has Hebrew and Greek lexicons built in.

 

Early Christian Writings are handy too....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A good approach is to try and find out in what order the passages of the Bible were actually written - and then try and read them in chronological order. That way you get a sense of how ideas developed over time and it cuts through some of the nonsense beautifully.

 

The only problem is that it is so difficult to actually do this :vent:

 

Even if you can figure out what order things come in - not an easy task - it can still be bloody boring to have to wade through some of the more long-winded bits of the Old Testament before you even get to the christian stuff in the New Testament. It can be a lot of hard work before you even get to sink your teeth into the stuff that you most want to refute and pick apart critically.

 

Yet reading the New Testament before you've read the Old Testament background can be misleading.

 

It is very frustrating. Parts of the Bible are very boring to wade through but the knowledge of what is actually in there can be such useful ammunition against xtians.

 

Perhaps a thematic approach is better than a chronological one, all things considered. Maybe read the big important books first (Genesis, Exodus, Isaiah, the gospels, Revelations) all the ones that christians put a lot of importance on. But maybe that's not a good idea either because this kind of selection could be misleading - it's the exact kind of "read these bits, not these bits" approach to the Bible used by xtian propagandists.

 

I don't really have any answers on the best way to approach the job of critically reading all of the Bible. I've tried to do just that in the past - but these days I find it hard to have any time for it. I find the Bible incredibly boring for the most part - and basically I've got better things to do with my time

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The best way to read the Bible is stoned and listening to Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. It actually synchronizes the events with the music if you read at 400 words per minute. Also, if you read it backwards you will find hidden messages, like the method Jesus used to raise the dead. Of course you need to read it in the inspired KJV. Any other version and you risk releasing Satan from his underworld prison. So proceed with caution!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The best way to read the Bible is stoned and listening to Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. It actually synchronizes the events with the music if you read at 400 words per minute. Also, if you read it backwards you will find hidden messages, like the method Jesus used to raise the dead. Of course you need to read it in the inspired KJV. Any other version and you risk releasing Satan from his underworld prison. So proceed with caution!

:lmao::funny::lmao:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So... lets say you had decided to wanted to re-read the bible. What strategy would you take?

 

Read the book's plain text on its face and judge it accordingly. Don't read it with pre-conceived notions that it's all supposed to mean something good, even when it speaks of blood and murder in the name of its god. Give it an honest reading and let it stand or fall on its own merits.

 

But, since you probably already knew that, carry on ;)

 

Reading it on PC is helpful, and you can keep helpful criticism pages open for easy reference. Other than that, don't make more of it than what it is. The Babble is one of the most overrated books in Western civilization, and would be nothing without all the propaganda that has surrounded it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...don't make more of it than what it is. The Babble is one of the most overrated books in Western civilization, and would be nothing without all the propaganda that has surrounded it.

 

Interesting thought.

 

I got D'Aulaire's Norse Tales to read to my kids and found them quite obscure. I wondered whether it was a difficulty in translation but then decided that no amount of bad translation could make them that disjointed.

 

In contrast I find many passages of the bible have a certain obscurity and disjointedness.

 

Examples:

 

In this passage where Lamech says to his wives Adah and Zillah: Gen 3:23-24 "Adah and Zillah, listen to me; wives of Lamech, hear my words. I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for injuring me. If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times."

 

There is no context to explain why he said this to his wives. So again we are left guessing at the reasons.

 

Even worse is this bizaire passage in Gen 6:1 "When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that these daughters were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Then the LORD said, "My Spirit will not contend with human beings forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years. The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of the human beings and had children by them."

 

As humans we are inclined to make sense of everything. Since we lack the specific cultural context each of the passages are written in, it is impossible to determine specifically what they meant. I think this point is utterly lost on fundamentalists.

 

Like MWC says, I may peter out after a few books. Maybe I'll tire of making notes and just read. I anticipate this to be a long journey that I complete bit by bit like an xtian does devotionals (except with my eyes open).

 

I appretiate the feedback.

 

Mongo

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In contrast I find many passages of the bible have a certain obscurity and disjointedness.

...

I appretiate the feedback.

From what I understand the OT stories were parts and pieces from other, older stories, and in those older stories they were more complete. But since some of the contents didn't match the opinion (religion) of the (70) scribes that put it together, they removed some segments here and there and you got a patch work that suddenly didn't make sense anymore. They tried to rewrite and change it to make it work, but failed in many stories. MWC and Antlerman can probably explain these things better than me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Read it as a myth with these four functions:

 

Metaphysical function: Myth speaks in a language of metaphors, symbols, and symbolic narratives that aren't bound by objective reality.

 

Cosmological function: Describes the "shape" of the cosmos, the universe, the total world, so that the cosmos and all contained within it become vivid and alive, infused with meaning and significance. (Science now does this.)

 

Sociological function: Myth is to support and validate a particular social order. The myth will make it clear who is in charge, what ethical code is appropriate, what the institutional rituals will be.

 

Pedagogical function: To lead people through particular rites of passage that define the various significant stages of their lives-from dependency to maturity to old age, and finally, to death.

(Psychiatrists now do this instead of priests!) :HaHa:

 

(Taken from Joseph Campbell)

 

View it as a form of art of ancient people trying to grasp the reason for existence, what purpose life has, and what trials they encountered.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think another reason that reading the Bible can be confusing is that some books refer to other books that are no longer part of the canon. The Book of Enoch is one example.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I got D'Aulaire's Norse Tales to read to my kids and found them quite obscure. I wondered whether it was a difficulty in translation but then decided that no amount of bad translation could make them that disjointed.

 

Probably a little of both. Many old Teutonic myths can be an odd read, and if you want some really bizarre reading, try Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Artur. It's fun, but damned weird :mellow:

 

Like MWC says, I may peter out after a few books. Maybe I'll tire of making notes and just read. I anticipate this to be a long journey that I complete bit by bit like an xtian does devotionals (except with my eyes open).

 

I did manage to read the whole Babble, but not all at once, and I had to read the books out of order. It was almost impossible for me, even as a fervent Xian, to read it cover-to-cover; the boredom was almost coma-inducing.

 

I'm sure you'll do fine, no matter how far you get. Most people think there's something profound to be found in the Babble, but the facts are, unless you are looking for it, you won't find squat.

 

Like I said, it's painfully overrated.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm sure you'll do fine, no matter how far you get. Most people think there's something profound to be found in the Babble, but the facts are, unless you are looking for it, you won't find squat.

 

 

I think I'm feeling the need to validate that I have the right take on the book and I think I'll come to a fairly similar conclusion as you.

 

As well... I think I'm feeling the need to take a large chunk of it and validate just how many contradictions there are and illogical elements.

 

Overload?

 

Mongo

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As well... I think I'm feeling the need to take a large chunk of it and validate just how many contradictions there are and illogical elements.

 

Skeptic's Annotated Babble. It's bandied around here a lot, but it's still worth mentioning. Grab any copy of the Wholly Babble and double check anything that you find on the site - makes for easy research of Babblical illogicalities and contradictions.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think I'm feeling the need to validate that I have the right take on the book and I think I'll come to a fairly similar conclusion as you.

 

As well... I think I'm feeling the need to take a large chunk of it and validate just how many contradictions there are and illogical elements.

 

Overload?

 

Mongo

Probably overload. As Varokhar said the SAB has done most of that work already (even though I disagree with many of their opinions it's still a good resource in general). If you take the bible as one divine unit then you're going to be disappointed in the overall lack of cohesiveness but if you take it as a bunch of books put together, rewritten and re-edited (maybe more than once), towards an agenda then the contradictions become less important (unless you're arguing xians of course).

 

Reading the separate JEPD sources on the net really gave me a new perspective on what the OT might have looked like at one point. Maybe you might want to read those hypothetical versions instead of re-reading the tried and true one that hasn't done anything for you in the past?

 

mwc

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.