This is the Message Centre for Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

Bible Study #2: One of God's Greatest Rants

Post 1

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

I got really mad the other day at a Youtube channel (which I usually approve of) that claimed 'the Bible' supported slavery. That Jesus didn't come out and say 'free the slaves', so he mustn't have been 'woke'. Give me a break.

It occurs to me that most people think the Torah laws were written in a vacuum. That they expressed a utopian vision of some sort. People who think this probably do so because that's what they would do if somebody asked them to write a set of laws. That's not what you do if you have a bunch of clueless people, or even a kindergarten class, and you need to make rules for their behaviour.

You start with what they do. And you try to mitigate the damage.

It is obvious from reading the Law of Moses that the people in this case treated women and children like dirt. They regularly enslaved their neighbours. They started vendettas at the drop of a hat. They lied, stole, and cheated. The laws started from there, forbade some of the excesses, and gave them a way out before they completely destroyed themselves. Folks, if you think we're bad, consider that we're descended from savages.

In the 16th Century, a lot of English people learned how to read. The first thing they read was the Bible, in English translation. That's when they found out that the clergy had been telling lies. Guess what? That book didn't say that God wanted them to have a king or queen. In fact, if they read the history, originally these Hebrews were an autonomous collective. If they wanted God's help, they'd go ask for it through a prophet, but they didn't do that until they had made a right dog's dinner of it first. (Kind of like other countries we know.) But then one day, they decided they wanted a king!

Why? Because everybody else had one. It was fashionable.

That's when God let go with one of his patented rants. I love God's rants in the Bible. He really lets people have it. And you know what? It's always about social justice. Yes, people, the Creator is an SJW. He's always throwing people out of their territory, not for the reasons you might think, like lack of piety, but for oppressing the poor and treating each other unfairly. Back to sermon.

I know our 16th-century ancestors in England and Scotland (okay, mine were in Scotland or Northern Ireland, mostly) read this. Because in the 17th Century, they terminated the king with extreme prejudice.

Yeah, y'all got him back, but that's because they neglected to put a sane regime in his place. Poor planning, that. In the meantime, my ancestors had gone where all the other nutcases went, across the Atlantic to dodge bears and possums.

End of Bible study. Read the passage.

Note: You get King James, because those allegedly superior translations are...wait for it...

...copyrighted. See me after class on the subject of copyrighting the Bible.

1 Samuel 8:10-22 Authorised Version (KJV)
And Samuel told all the words of the Lord unto the people that asked of him a king.

And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots.

And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.

And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.

And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.

And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.

And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.

He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.

And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day.

Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us;

That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.

And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the Lord.

And the Lord said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king.

smiley - dragon

Bible Study #2: One of God's Greatest Rants

Post 2


Amen brother.

Bible Study #2: One of God's Greatest Rants

Post 3

Chris Morris

Yes, it's amazing how both sides cherry pick passages to suit their view. And those rants certainly are very impressive - I wonder who wrote them?

Bible Study #2: One of God's Greatest Rants

Post 4

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

This one? With very old texts, it's next to impossible to say with certainty.

Jewish tradition has the authors of 1 Samuel being prophets named Samuel, Gad, and Nathan. It is most likely that the final form of these texts was compiled around the 6th Century BCE. These compilations were based on earlier texts, and those were probably at least partly based on oral traditions. Old texts do that - they don't work like modern publishing businesses. smiley - winkeye It's no problem to them to mix and match sources without any footnotes.

It's like when you read 'Beowulf'. There's just the one copy, and the poem is likely way older than that copy, passed down orally over and over. The version we've got is the one the copyist knew. We don't even know at what point somebody tried to christianise 'Beowulf' - there's a bit about Cain in there, which couldn't possibly have been part of the original epic.

Bible Study #2: One of God's Greatest Rants

Post 5

Chris Morris

So you find that hermeneutics is an essential element of reading texts such as those?

Bible Study #2: One of God's Greatest Rants

Post 6

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

Sure - we need to respect these old texts, at least in my opinion. We don't live in the space-time where/when they were written.

The real problem is that most people's hermeneutics involves viewing the texts through a lens provided by a particular tradition - which is true of other disciplines, as well. smiley - winkeye

Did you ever compare the way a folklorist, say, might talk about the Mahabharata, as compared to a very devout Hindu scholar?

Bible Study #2: One of God's Greatest Rants

Post 7


Dmitri, how I see 'divine inspiration' ... God is about love and all the good things, to the greatest extent we can imagine them, so a 'divinely inspired' writer is sensing all of that and trying to convey it, but is not miraculously given perfect knowledge about everything. So we can use our sacred texts without considering them to be perfectly true in every possible way. I see it like this ... there is medicine we're being given, the right thing to do is to swallow the medicine, but not swallow the spoon as well.

Your thoughts?

Bible Study #2: One of God's Greatest Rants

Post 8

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

smiley - laugh I like the spoon analogy, thanks!

That's pretty much what I was saying. I get kind of tired of the 21st Century thinking it has all the answers, and the general 'presentism' of the way ancient texts get read.

That being said, I'd much rather talk about what the text said than discuss (again) how people feel about scriptures in general.

Do we know exactly who wrote it? No. Do we care? No. Has it influenced thinking? Yes. Do I think there's some merit in the story about a prophet warning people about the downside of fraudulent social contracts? Er, yes. That's why I fished this passage out. smiley - winkeye Do I think it's relevant for today? Yep. And not just about monarchies...

Bible Study #2: One of God's Greatest Rants

Post 9

Chris Morris

OK, I accept having my wrist smacked as it's never my intention to hurt anyone's feelings here,

I did think that hermeneutics is interesting and important enough to be worth discussing and, certainly, if as you believe "most people's hermeneutics involves viewing texts through the lens provided by a particular tradition" then something has gone seriously wrong somewhere.

Bible Study #2: One of God's Greatest Rants

Post 10

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

More interesting to me is the fact that three millennia ago, give or take, people were capable of realising that choosing an authoritarian form of government was a bad idea - and that it was based on some notion of 'keeping up with the neighbours'. smiley - laugh

Bible Study #2: One of God's Greatest Rants

Post 11

Chris Morris

I'm not sure that it's surprising that anyone who might have seen slavery in Egypt would've seen authoritarianism as a bad idea.

What always surprises and impresses me is that someone had the deep psychological insight to create the metaphor for the dialectical contradiction that provides the foundation for the evolution of individual identity that we see in the idea of humans being taken out of their animal innocence and given the awareness of themselves as individuals but forbidden from owning that knowledge on pain of death. As it's not possible to both have that knowledge and not have it, humans then necessarily become aware of their individual mortality and we all live with that ontological conflict. I can't imagine anyone who can show that level of understanding being seen as 'primitive' and they certainly wouldn't have any trouble recognising authoritarian rulers as bad.

Bible Study #2: One of God's Greatest Rants

Post 12

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

In other words, you think people in the past were, maybe, as smart as we are? smiley - winkeye

Bible Study #2: One of God's Greatest Rants

Post 13

Chris Morris

Yes, people have been the same smartness for, what?.. 50thousand years or more. What we have is the accumulated knowledge which makes some difference but I'm sure we may have lost some knowledge along the way as well.

Bible Study #2: One of God's Greatest Rants

Post 14

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

I agree! smiley - smiley People are still thinking pretty much the way they've been thinking all along, it seems. That's why I find old texts interesting.

I've just finished re-watching the television series 'Hannibal'. It's very well done. It struck me how this retelling of material from a series of modern novels resembles the retellings of epic material in medieval poems. I think we can always go back and learn something.

Bible Study #2: One of God's Greatest Rants

Post 15

Chris Morris

I did reply but I type too slowly so it disappeared unfortunately...

Bible Study #2: One of God's Greatest Rants

Post 16

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

smiley - snork From what I've just been reading, your post may have been swallowed by Ketu and Rahu. (I suspect it's the site being slow. Try typing it in Notepad first in case of website perfidy.)

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