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People of the Book

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  • bob sykes May 29, 2022, 6:18 AM

    I have to disagree with Peterson, even though he is an eminent philosopher.

    There is no doubt that the Old and New Testaments are the foundational texts of Western Civilization, just as the Jewish Bible and the Talmud are the foundations of Judaism. These texts even influence Islam.

    A small caveat, Catholics, the Orthodox, and Protestants use somewhat different versions of the Old Testament. And then there is the issue of translation. There are 60 different God names in the Old Testament, half are Yahweh with a descriptor, the other half are unique, e.g., El-Shaddai, El, Elohim et al. Generally all are rendered as “LORD.” Jews and Christians insist all the names refer to the same God. Do they?

    I have read most of the Bible, and it is both interesting and very strange. It is heavily self-contradictory, and any coherent story we get from it we, the readers, impose, editing out the contradictions, and smoothing the story line. The coherence is not there originally. Two creation stories, two flood stories, how many nativity stories…

    I do not think the text supports any existing religion. And, of course, because of its incoherence, there are at least 30,000 Christian sects, all claiming the same Bible, and all claiming a unique reading of it. Jews have a similar problem, numerous sects, some of whom take the Talmud as their basic text, which reinterprets and corrects the Jewish Bible. Samaritans only accept Torah. Muslims think the modern text is corrupted.

    I also do not think the Bible supports any single morality. Nowadays, mainstream Protestant churches, ostensibly followers of Sola Scriptura, have heavily redacted all the verses regarding sexual morality. “God is Love.” And for centuries the Bible was used to justify monarchies and slavery. And do not say that the people who interpreted it that way were wrong, and suddenly we now know what the 2,500 year-old text means.

    Moreover, you cannot dismiss evolution and evolutionary psychology. The Old Testament is an Iron Age text; its authors know nothing of the preceding Bronze Age, nor of the thousands of years of the Neolithic, nor the hundreds of thousands of years of the Paleolithic and Mesolithic. In fact, many people have “proven” the Earth is only 6,000 years or so old.

    So, I take the Bible as literature.

    • Mike Austin May 29, 2022, 10:59 AM

      If the Bible is mere literature then Christianity is mere nonsense.

    • KCK May 29, 2022, 12:09 PM

      I find textual criticism (JEPD theory) to be derived from a faithless point of view. What kept Moses from gathering texts or oral histories?

      There is certainly a unity to the Bible. Adam, where are you?

      • Mike Austin May 29, 2022, 2:12 PM

        JEPD Theory is just what you wrote. It is yet another attempt to remove the Bible from “inspired” to “man derived”. It shares its materialism and atheism with the Jesus Seminar.

  • KCK May 29, 2022, 7:59 AM

    Good to take apart that word “true,” because the contemporary mind is muddled about “true.” You know the Bible is genres, right? Biblical History, Poetry, Psalters, Letters, Prophecy, and on and on. Then, the History is not written as you’d write history, with dates and your editorial opinion of the events as facts.

    If you haven’t read it all the way through, you’re not an educated person in my universe. I don’t care if you’re a rocket scientist or a brain surgeon – you aren’t in the stream of civilization without that particular foundation that is knowledge of the Christian Scriptures.

    You can be sure that the original autographs were true, in the same way that God verifies the Universe. Do you fully know the universe? If you spend enough time with theology, you will find that God has ways that go well past your understanding, and yet hold together with classical logic. He is logical, and then some more.

    Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
    Tell Me, if you have understanding,
    Who set its measurements? Since you know.
    Or who stretched the line on it?

    On what were its bases sunk?

    Or who laid its cornerstone,
    When the morning stars sang together
    And all the sons of God shouted for joy?

    Have a good Sunday.

    • julie May 29, 2022, 10:33 AM

      KCK, totally agree. With a small caveat, that back when I was younger and Knew Everything I tried reading the Bible and it all seemed like foolishness to me. It was only after some serious prodigality that I came to a deeper understanding.

      • KCK May 29, 2022, 12:04 PM

        Love your story, there. Makes my day, actually.

    • KCK May 29, 2022, 12:05 PM

      And you as well.

  • Mike Austin May 29, 2022, 10:45 AM

    Either the Bible is true in every word, jot and tittle, or Christianity is a waste of time. Either God is perfect or He is not. Either Christ rose from the dead or He did not. Either Jesus is who He says He is or He is not. Either the Bible was written through the guidance of the Holy Ghost or it was not.

    The veracity of Scripture depends not at all upon what men think of it.

    • Dirk May 29, 2022, 10:59 AM

      True that, Mike. No mixing and matching in the good book.

  • Gagdad Bob May 29, 2022, 11:49 AM

    Our opinion of a great book is the verdict with which the book judges us. –Dávila

  • Denny May 29, 2022, 12:16 PM

    Until just a short while ago, Peterson did not believe the Bible was true either.
    Neither did I until an instant moment in time while reading it, more than 40 years ago.
    I do not know all of the how and why of my conversion but I have thanked my God every single day of my life since then for His Grace.
    You may believe whatever you wish but to this day I still try to caution anyone who will listen, about what the Bible says concerning the eventual unpardonable horror of the sin of unbelief.

    “Depart from Me, I never knew you” – Matthew 7:23

    • Mike Austin May 29, 2022, 12:32 PM

      Your case is my case. It is said that Faith is a Gift. If so, then I received the greatest Gift possible. In the instant that I believed, I believed the whole thing: the Trinity, Resurrection, Atonement, Infallibility of the Bible, Heaven, Hell, the nature of sin—everything.

      I have no idea why some people reject Scripture out of hand. Do they not understand what is at stake?

      • pb May 29, 2022, 1:06 PM

        Eyes that don’t see and hears that don’t hear, for a variety of reasons.

      • Denny May 29, 2022, 1:10 PM

        “Do they not understand what is at stake?”

        How can they understand, they don’t believe it.
        It’s very sad, and my guess is, the reason for the shortest verse in Scripture.
        Jesus wept. – John 11:35

  • jwm May 29, 2022, 2:37 PM

    Over time I’ve made the journey from angry atheist despiser of religion, to a 12 step theist who just hated Christianity, to feral (un churched) believer. I begin my every morning with a prayer placing my life, and will in the care of Christ Jesus for guidance and instruction. I credit the above poster, one “Gagdad Bob”, for putting me on the path. His writings are the single greatest catalyst in the transition.
    And I have had this same experience of reading scripture, and suddenly realizing that the stuff I was reading was for real. Which brings me to Exodus: The accounts of the Israelites in the wilderness. Mana appearing in the desert. The glory of the Lord shining on the Ark of the Covenant. Those are accounts of real events, but the events are miracles, and by nature, incomprehensible. The descriptions are from an ancient people. These are just a few of many points of curiosity for me. What was it they were seeing? How would we describe it all in contemporary English?


    • Mike Austin May 29, 2022, 3:17 PM

      “How would we describe it all in contemporary English?” As miracles. They are by definition outside of the natural world; thus “Supernatural”. Every society of which we know believed in miracles. There would hardly be a man alive who, if honest with himself, would not credit his very life to something beyond his natural understanding.

      God made the Laws of Physics and of Biology. He has every right therefore to alter them as He sees fit. He has the same power over His own Creation as a playwright does over his own plays.

      As for “Gagdad Bob”: “The man who saves a life saves the world.”

  • AbigailAdams May 29, 2022, 3:37 PM

    I heard something recently that seemed to make a lot of sense. If you have never read the Bible, don’t start in Genesis. Start with the gospels. There you will meet Jesus as man and through his grace you may receive faith. With this faith you may be baptized in the Holy Spirit who will give you the insight you need to understand Genesis. Makes sense to me.

  • ThisIsNotNutella May 29, 2022, 5:50 PM

    I seem to have mislaid my Selmer Pantry.

    OK, OK… I’ll pet my goat.

    (Contesticle Spoonerism is such a Kurtz.)

    • Mike Austin May 29, 2022, 6:33 PM

      Sometimes you remind me of Frank Gorshin.


      I cannot always decipher your riddles. Tiresias I get. Caesar’s soothsayer I get.

      • ThisIsNotNutella May 29, 2022, 7:46 PM

        Didn’t someone tell Macbeth to Beware the Tides of Larch?

        Really I was just dropped once too many times on my head as a youngster.


        OT: Half-way through Cohen’s translation of Bernal Diaz. What men! Can’t quite make up my mind which is worse: Mistah Kurtz piling up skulls in the name of Nihilism or the Aztecs doing it to keep the cosmic wheel turning. Much of a muchness if one is a skull, I suppose.

        • Mike Austin May 30, 2022, 7:46 AM

          The Cohen translation is the one I have read. The world no longer has a place for men like the conquistadors—not yet anyway.

          Cortez did everyone a favor by exterminating Aztec culture. He is the real Father of modern Mexico. Not that the modern Mexicans understand that. They are not the brightest bulbs after all. Most are—to use cultural indicators—“one enchilada short of a combo plate”. I write this as a half-Mexican myself.

  • BroKen May 30, 2022, 4:47 AM

    I have been fascinated by Peterson ever since he became popular. He would equivicate on his stance on Christ and people thought he was being cagey, but I thought he was still trying to figure it out. He would say he chooses to act AS IF there is a God. That is a pretty good description of faith. Actions speak much louder than words, after all. I saw him as Gandalf the Grey. We hear he came pretty close to death recently and his statements since have greater depth. Is he Gandalf the White? He sheds tears saying he probably believes in the idea of Christ, while questioning whether the resurrection happened, but then it doesn’t really matter if it happened, but then, well, it does. Yeah, he is still trying to figure it out. But aren’t we all? I think his honest and open wrestiling with faith is extremely helpful to the modern mind. I pray for him regularly. I think God is using him mightily whether he knows it or not. He probably does. He is likely closer to Christ than I am, though my struggles are in different areas.

  • John Venlet June 1, 2022, 5:19 AM

    Peterson is deciphering the pattern laid out in Scripture, and is making full his cloth. Enjoyed that, Gerard, thanks.