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STOP Sugarcoating the Bible


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#1    THE MATRIX

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 07:23 PM

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(CNN) – The Bible is a gritty book. Very raw. Very real. It deals with people just like us, just as needy and screwed up as we are, encountering a God who would rather die than spend eternity without them.

Yet despite that, it seems like Christians are uncomfortable with how earthy the Bible really is. They feel the need to tidy up God.

For example, look in any modern translation of Isaiah 64:6, and you’ll find that, to a holy God, even our most righteous acts are like “filthy rags.” The original language doesn’t say “filthy rags”; it says “menstrual rags.” But that sounds a little too crass, so let’s just call them filthy instead.

And let’s not talk so much about Jesus being naked on the cross, and let’s pretend Paul said that he considered his good deeds “a pile of garbage” in Philippians 3:8 rather than a pile of crap, as the Greek would more accurately be translated.

And let’s definitely not mention the six times in the Old Testament that the Jewish writers referred to Gentile men as those who “pisseth against the wall.” (At least the King James Version got that one right.)

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

The point?

God’s message was not meant to be run through some arbitrary, holier-than-thou politeness filter. He intended the Bible to speak to people where they’re at, caught up in the stark reality of life on a fractured planet.

Dozens of Psalms are complaints and heart-wrenching cries of despair to God, not holy-sounding, reverently worded soliloquies. Take Psalm 77:1-3: “I cry out to God; yes, I shout. Oh, that God would listen to me! When I was in deep trouble, I searched for the Lord. All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven, but my soul was not comforted. I think of God, and I moan, overwhelmed with longing for his help” (New Living Translation).

And rather than shy away from difficult and painful topics, the Old Testament includes vivid descriptions of murder, cannibalism, witchcraft, dismemberment, torture, rape, idolatry, erotic sex and animal sacrifice. According to St. Paul, those stories were written as examples and warnings for us (1 Corinthians 10:11). So obviously they were meant to be retold without editing out all the things we don’t consider nice or agreeable.



#2    CommunitarianKevin

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 07:33 PM

Um welcome to America...Nothing is allowed to be offensive...I learned recently there is an "R" word and a "P" word...

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#3    Paranoid Android

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 07:35 PM

I must admit the content of the article was a little different to what I expected from the title.  The article brought up several points, from dubious translations of text, through to letting ourselves go and not treating life like an everlasting church service.  And to some extent I agree with both of those points.  But I'll focus on what I think the primary idea was - the characters of the Old Testament are not as saintly as they seem to be portrayed.  I 100% agree.  The Bible is one of those sets of texts that show us who we are, not who we want to be.  The key characters are not fantastic heroes of flawless antiquity, but very real and flawed beings.  They profess their love for God and in the next sentence they go and do something in direct contradiction to God.  And I agree that many who preach or study about these figures like to highlight their faith and worthiness, but the truth is that every one of those characters was just as flawed and vulnerable as we today in 2012.  

But what I get from it more than anything else, despite their flawed natures, in the end they remained faithful to God, and God was able to use them (despite their flaws).  I'm not perfect.  Heck, if my dad or mum were to read what I'm writing here I know they'd say I'm not perfect.  I've got my issues that I need to deal with, and some of them are more than trivial.  All I can hope for is to continue to rely on God, try and change what I can where I can and commit my troubles in prayer to God.  Those who want to elevate Old Testament figures to ideals of perfection, they do indeed miss a large part of the teachings presented within the Old Testament, and in that respect I totally agree with the article :tu:

~ Regards, PA

Edited by Paranoid Android, 18 April 2012 - 07:36 PM.

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#4    CommunitarianKevin

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 07:45 PM

And actually I wonder what the Hebrew word for "menstrual" and "filthy." Any Biblical Hebrew readers here? Could it be that "filthy" is actually the correct word, corrected from incorrect past texts? There are many errors that have been corrected, in large part to the Dead Sea Scrolls. Example...Isaiah 7:14 uses the word virgin in older texts and in the KJV but the correct term is young women. So they are trying to clean that up some how?

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#5    Paranoid Android

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 08:46 PM

View PostHuttonEtAl, on 18 April 2012 - 07:45 PM, said:

And actually I wonder what the Hebrew word for "menstrual" and "filthy." Any Biblical Hebrew readers here? Could it be that "filthy" is actually the correct word, corrected from incorrect past texts? There are many errors that have been corrected, in large part to the Dead Sea Scrolls. Example...Isaiah 7:14 uses the word virgin in older texts and in the KJV but the correct term is young women. So they are trying to clean that up some how?
The word in the ESV is translated as "polluted".  The original Hebrew certainly does refer to the menstrual blood.  I think the idea of filthy, polluted, and menstrual are all conveying the same idea of something that is "unclean" (remember in Hebrew culture a woman in menstruation is "unclean" during her period).  Thus to have a cloth that wiped up said blood would indeed be a "filthy rag".  In today's society we may think of a "filthy rag" as something a janitor used to clean up the staff toilets, but the meaning is still very much similar (though the original Hebrew does give us a greater understanding).  Personally I thought that was a lesser point to the larger one raised in the article (addressed in my first post) so I didn't address this in more detail at that time.  

Hope this helps :tu:

~ Regards,

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