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  1. #51
    Senior Member substitute's Avatar
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    I'm late to the party I know, but to me, the Bible should be taken no more literally than Gulliver's Travels - another book written by an inspired human being that's both full of truth and insight, yet also error.
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  2. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    Well this is one point where we seem to disagree. It was considered an "abomination" which could also be translated as "unclean" or "unproductive". Put into context, it sounds like they felt that homosexuality was a way of making the body "unclean" just as the female body was considered "unclean" for seven days after giving birth to a child or a man was "unclean" if he spilled his seed anywhere but inside a women.
    They killed people for homosexual activities.

    They did not kill a woman for having her period.

    A man wasn't killed for masturbation (although there was that unfortunate instance with Onan... but that wasn't part of the Law... he rebelled specifically against God's orders to father his dead brother's child, and God smote him down).

    So that's why I disagree with you. The punishment was VERY different for breaking each one of these things. They were not treated the same.
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  3. #53
    Furry Critter with Claws Kiddo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    They killed people for homosexual activities.

    They did not kill a woman for having her period.

    A man wasn't killed for masturbation (although there was that unfortunate instance with Onan... but that wasn't part of the Law... he rebelled specifically against God's orders to father his dead brother's child, and God smote him down).

    So that's why I disagree with you. The punishment was VERY different for breaking each one of these things. They were not treated the same.
    But who was punished? All homosexuals? The priests who engaged in homosexual behavior? And even if that was the punishment they decreed, is that a correct interpretation of God's word? Was everyone who engaged in homosexual behavior to be put to death?

  4. #54
    Glowy Goopy Goodness The_Liquid_Laser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    That still doesn't mean that the Bible hasn't been altered through interpretive translation. There were 6 different versions of the Greek Old Testament and I bet they could all be translations of the Dead Sea Scroll. But they differed in how they were translated and interpreted by the Jews who did the work.

    For example, Leviticus describes Priestly Code and ritual cleanliness, but that doesn't stop Evangelicals from interpreting homosexuality to be a "mortal sin". If homosexuality is akin to eating shellfish and some fowl, then they look like mighty stupid bastards right now. Those aren't sins punishable by eternal damnation but things that may endanger the health of the body. Considering mercury and bird flu, there might be something to those claims about shell fish and fowl. Especially considering the spread of HIV and STDs among homosexual men. In that case it only makes sense to say that homosexuality is unclean.

    But certainly not "Fags are going to hell" like the heavily conservative interpreters of the Bible claim. But I'm sure they can say the Dead Sea Scrolls support their claim that "homosexuality is an abomination" but how to interpret the "abomination" part of that is proving to be interesting. So whether or not the Bible is perfect is debatable, but the people who follow it certainly aren't, so taking anything literally in that text with a limited grasp of what it could mean is down right dangerous and idiotic.
    You seem to be talking about two different things. If you are talking about ancient translations, then what you find is that scribes make great efforts in translating the text as accurately as possible. Did some errors creep in? Yes, but if you look at where there are errors or differences in translation you will find that in most cases the differences are small and don't have much effect on the meaning of the text. Everyone I hear who talks about errors in the text ends up blowing them way out of proportion.

    If you are talking about how various modern groups interpret the Bible, then I don't really have much to say. Everyone has their own approach. I may not agree with the approach that most people use, but that is ultimately my opinion. Regardless of how much or little education a person has about the Bible there are still different approaches to interpreting its meaning that are not agreed on. In other words it doesn't matter how literally or metaphorically a person interprets the Bible. People will ultimately come up with their own interpretations regardless.
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  5. #55
    Furry Critter with Claws Kiddo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Liquid_Laser View Post
    You seem to be talking about two different things. If you are talking about ancient translations, then what you find is that scribes make great efforts in translating the text as accurately as possible. Did some errors creep in? Yes, but if you look at where there are errors or differences in translation you will find that in most cases the differences are small and don't have much effect on the meaning of the text. Everyone I hear who talks about errors in the text ends up blowing them way out of proportion.
    I'm not talking about errors so much as selective translation. The way you translate something can portray a significant difference in its meaning. I've heard that the word for "abomination" in the Bible could also be translated as "unclean" or "unproductive". Is there not a difference between...

    "Homosexuality is an abomination" and "Homosexuality is unproductive/unclean"?

    The latter makes more sense in the context of Leviticus since it's generally the moral code of cleanliness for ritual and priests.

    If you are talking about how various modern groups interpret the Bible, then I don't really have much to say. Everyone has their own approach. I may not agree with the approach that most people use, but that is ultimately my opinion. Regardless of how much or little education a person has about the Bible there are still different approaches to interpreting its meaning that are not agreed on. In other words it doesn't matter how literally or metaphorically a person interprets the Bible. People will ultimately come up with their own interpretations regardless.
    True. Which would mean that getting the closest true interpretation of the Bible is a potshot.

  6. #56
    Glowy Goopy Goodness The_Liquid_Laser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    I'm not talking about errors so much as selective translation. The way you translate something can portray a significant difference in its meaning. I've heard that the word for "abomination" in the Bible could also be translated as "unclean" or "unproductive". Is there not a difference between...

    "Homosexuality is an abomination" and "Homosexuality is unproductive/unclean"?

    The latter makes more sense in the context of Leviticus since it's generally the moral code of cleanliness for ritual and priests.
    When you consider that the word "abomination" came from the King James Version there might not be a difference. Personally I don't think anyone should crack open a King James Version unless they are using a careful scholarly apporoach to studying it. It was a good translation when it was first translated, but the English language has evolved a lot in the past 400 or so years and a lot of the words don't necessarily mean the same thing today that they originally did. Anyone doing a casual reading of the Bible should stay far away from the KJV.

    True. Which would mean that getting the closest true interpretation of the Bible is a potshot.
    Well the phrase "true interpretation" is something of a loaded phrase. Everyone uses a different criteria. It's somewhat like saying there is a "true interpretation" for the U.S. Constitution. If there is a true interpretation then why don't the Supreme Court justices always have a unanimous vote? It doesn't mean that the Constitution is a useless document that should be ignored, quite the contrary in fact. The Constitution is a hugely important document that has plenty of nuances that people disagree on. I would say the same for the Bible. Furthermore, if the document wasn't important then people wouldn't be arguing over the finer points in the first place.
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  7. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    But who was punished? All homosexuals? The priests who engaged in homosexual behavior? And even if that was the punishment they decreed, is that a correct interpretation of God's word? Was everyone who engaged in homosexual behavior to be put to death?
    There was no such thing as "gender identity" or "monogamous homosexual." It was not an identity.

    It was purely focused on behavior.

    If you were born a man, and you got caught screwing a man, you were put to death. That's it. kaput. They didn't give a flying fig whether or not you felt you were "born that way" or what your natural sexual orientation was.

    The Books of Law described very tangible offenses, and motivations did not really matter.

    (Same thing with adultery. They didn't care if you were unhappy in your marriage, or entirely unsuited for each other, or someone was emotionally neglecting you. If you got caught dinking with another person's spouse, you were stoned. Done.)

    This whole "gay as identity" rather than "gay as an action" concept seems to have spawned in the mid-late 20th century, as far as I can tell. Or at least the widespread politicalizing of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by The_Liquid_Laser View Post
    Well the phrase "true interpretation" is something of a loaded phrase. Everyone uses a different criteria. It's somewhat like saying there is a "true interpretation" for the U.S. Constitution. If there is a true interpretation then why don't the Supreme Court justices always have a unanimous vote? It doesn't mean that the Constitution is a useless document that should be ignored, quite the contrary in fact. The Constitution is a hugely important document that has plenty of nuances that people disagree on. I would say the same for the Bible. Furthermore, if the document wasn't important then people wouldn't be arguing over the finer points in the first place.
    That's a good analogy.

    I agree about the KJV as well. For what it is, it isn't bad. But it's written for a culture that lived 400 year ago (in another country), and it was based on a different source document than the modern NIV and RSV and whatnot, which use an earlier version for translation and are tailored into our vernacular.
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  8. #58
    Furry Critter with Claws Kiddo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    If you were born a man, and you got caught screwing a man, you were put to death. That's it. kaput.
    Somehow I doubt that it was that simple, but for historical argument I'll agree. But what the Jews did is beside the point. If the Bible was produced by God then it's the interpretation that matters. What a bunch of murdering Jews who interpreted it one way did is no different than what a bunch of preaching, hateful Evangelicals do with it now. There is clearly room for it to be interpreted differently and it was probably the views of the times that dictated how the Jews chose to interpret it.

  9. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    Somehow I doubt that it was that simple, but for historical argument I'll agree. But what the Jews did is beside the point. If the Bible was produced by God then it's the interpretation that matters. What a bunch of murdering Jews who interpreted it one way did is no different than what a bunch of preaching, hateful Evangelicals do with it now. There is clearly room for it to be interpreted differently and it was probably the views of the times that dictated how the Jews chose to interpret it.
    (Thank you for discussing this, btw... the discussion is really poking and stretching in different directions than what i normally hear.)

    Here is where I am coming from: Why do we need to interpret it at all?

    If it was just a code of law written to govern the ancient Israelites, it has no bearing on me. I am not part of their theocracy. And those in the US live in a democracy (well, technically a republic of sorts, I guess). Even if they are Christians, the OT law was a legal document based on moral beliefs, and legally does not apply to us.

    Technically no one here is really "under that law" -- and especially not, if you don't consider yourself a Christian or a Jew.

    And I do think it was that simple.

    Remember when Achan took gold and items (not very many, actually) dedicated to destruction to JHVH, and they searched the ENTIRE camp, eventually using lots to divine who did it, and they found what he'd done... and even though he 'fessed up, the community immediately stoned him and all of his relatives to death right there? There was no waiting period, no defense.

    If they didn't catch you in homosexual union, then you were okay, but if you got caught in the act, there was nothing to discuss. Punishment, I think, was swift and irrevocable. I can imagine they would use suspicions to observe suspects... in order to catch them in the act, and then punish them. They couldn't punish for hearsay; and the eyewitness was undeniable.

    A friend and I were discussing the "soul" thing and abortion and birth control, and I've just recently become aware of how little we have really understood (as a human race) about the creation of human beings until perhaps the last century.

    Genetics were not really on radar until recently, all things considered. One problem that Darwin faced with his evolution theory was the method of transmission and how new beings were created at ALL.

    For a long time, people thought women were just incubators at best, and the person came from the man. And once sperm was discovered (due to the invention of the microscope), the quality of focus was still not good, it looked like there was something inside the sperm, and people would draw pictures of sperm with full-fledged adult men inside of them, waiting to be born after being dispensed into the woman.

    So just think, back in ancient Israel, of all the baggage attached to things. A man masturbating or spilling his seed was destroying zillions of formed human souls. And a man who is spilling his seed inside another man is doing the same. Only an act of heterosexual intercourse is honoring the life that the man is spilling.

    [This needs some work because I've never stated it before, but do you see the implications of why these laws might have existed and what made them so wrong? It's fascinating to consider.]
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  10. #60
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    I think the important thing to do when interpreting the Bible is to interpret each piece of writing in a manner appropriate to its genre. For example, when you're reading Psalms, you're reading poetry, and you should consider it as poetry. If you're reading historical books, you cannot interpret them properly unless you recognize that they were written as history. If you're reading levitical law, it's going to have a different purpose and a different emphasis than either Psalms or, say, Chronicles.

    And on the question of allegory: It's obvious to even the most fundamentalist reader (or can be, after a few pointed illustrations are brought home) that the Bible uses symbolic language in places to make a point. That being the case, it's foolish to assume that no part of the bible is allegorical. Therefore, where there is allegory, read it as allegory.

    The trick is determining where you see allegory.

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