juliespeaks

The unvoiced thoughts and ideas of a septegenarian.

NEW POST – BELIEVE IT OR NOT

on March 6, 2012

BELIEVE IT OR NOT

There are those who believe every word of the Bible is true.  They are entitled to their beliefs and I do not mean to ridicule or insult them. However, I think a good portion of the stories contained therein are mythical in nature  That does not negate their value in describing whatever is being described or the values they are intended to teach.  Maybe I am too rational but the image of an ark, large enough to contain two elephants, two whales, two of eight or ten other very large animals as well as two of every other animal is beyond my imagination..

Somebody once asked me to explain God’s anger in Genesis 4:24.  The only explanation I could find was that Moses delayed the circumcision of his son after God had told him to do it.  That strikes me as a lame explanation especially in light of the argument/bargaining between Abraham and God with  respect to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.  Taken together, God comes off sounding wishy-washy, indecisive.  You have to wonder why God would have chosen Moses to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt in the  first place.  Here’s an old man who stammers, has little self confidence and God throws him into the lion’s pit.  What kind of sense does that make?

Yet another unbelievable story is that of Isaac’s sacrifice.  Isaac at that time was about forty  years old.  Am I to believe a forty year old man would willingly lie down on a slab of stone, be tied up, and allow his throat to be slit? But you see, that isn’t the purpose of the story.  It is rather to exemplify Moses’ willingness to kowtow before god and give up his most prized possession. Still, a god who would ask such a thing isn’t exactly displaying kindness and compassion, is he?

All cultures have myths. They are often considered sacred accounts with a plot and characters who are either deities, human-like figures, or animals. They are set in a nonspecific past and are usually thought to convey profound truths. The creation myths do not exist in isolation: they borrow from one another.

The Biblical account of creation, for example,  is similar to that of the Greeks. The Garden of  Eden was inhabited by Adam and Eve and Eve brought evil into the world by eating of the forbidden fruit.  The Greek story calls Eve Pandora to whom the gods gave a box and told her not to open it.  She disobeyed  and thereby released evil into the world.  And  — Noah was not  alone.  The Greek god Zeus got sick and tired of evil people and decided to kill them with a flood. Prometheus told his son Deucalion to build an ark and take his wife to safety.

The Babylonian story of creation, written between 1900 and 1500 BCE tells of the god of fresh water and the goddess of salt water who were one. Their descendants became disobedient and the gods punished them with violent thunder and storms  Most creation stories begin with a world that was endless space into which some god is the instrument by which mankind is created and somewhere along the line mankind disobeys his creator and is punished.

Did  the Exodus actually occur or is it a myth to explain the evil of slavery? Archaeologists have found no evidence confirming its actuality.  Nor can they find evidence of cities calledSodomand Gemorrah.  Isn’t it bit unbelievable that a young boy would be rescued from a pit and become an advisor, a dream interpreter, to a king?

Am I to believe that King Solomon really had 700 wives and 300 concubines?  Seems like overkill to me.  What does that say abut polygamy vs monogamy? Then there’s a guy called Jonah?  Was he really swallowed by a big fish in punishment for disobeying God’s order to teach repentance to the City of Ninevah, kept there for three days and then vomited out?

I don’t mean to be disrespectful of the Bible’s stories. However, I cannot help but find many of them to be the stuff of Disney World. I also find it very interesting to note the ways in which ancient cultures borrowed from and were influenced by others and shared many of the same values..  That, I think, is clear evidence of the oneness of mankind.

Julie Rose

 

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