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    @hibs.net private member Hibernia&Alba's Avatar
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    Reading The Bible in full as a non-believer

    Having always been an avid reader, one of the glaring omissions from my reading experiences has been The Bible. Though it's been the cornerstone of Western civilization for two thousand years and is the biggest selling book in history, I had so far managed to avoid it. We had a Bible in the house when I was a kid, but I never bothered with it and I only heard its contents in readings at Mass. By my mid teens I was an atheist and that was that.

    Well, I thought I should read it at some point, just for the experience, even as a non-believer. I'm about 250 pages in (Book 7 of the Old Testament, Judges) and already there has been, amongst other miraculous things, a talking snake, a talking donkey, God speaking through fire, plagues, numerous genocides, rape, seas and rivers stopped, and a lengthy treatise on how God likes his meat cooked. Now I'm not meaning to mock anybody for their religious beliefs - each to their own - but I can't help but wonder how, in our age of science and philosophy, there are still millions who believe The Bible is the literal Word of God. Anyone who has read any Greek mythology will recognise the themes and motifs of The Bible. In the pre-Enlightenment world I fully understand why the great majority believed it; I'm sure I would have, too. I have family and friends who are practicing Christians. I suppose that is the essence of faith: either you accept it or you don't, but it's much harder to accept in our epoch. Anyway, I'm not a theologian and not looking for a debate about the existence of God. Just wondering how many of you might have read it in full? I'm guessing those who have are practicing Christians? Has anyone else read it out of curiosity, in order to experience the most influential book in this part of the world?

    I have about 1100 pages left to complete both Testaments. Who knows, by the end of it I might be a devout Christian . However, due to its importance, I think it can still be a valuable experience to the non-believer.
    Last edited by Hibernia&Alba; 08-08-2021 at 05:03 PM.
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  3. #2
    Private Members Prediction League Winner Hibrandenburg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hibernia&Alba View Post
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    Having always been an avid reader, one of the glaring omissions from my reading experiences has been The Bible. Though it's been the cornerstone of Western civilization for two thousand years and is the biggest selling book in history, I had so far managed to avoid it. We had a Bible in the house when I was a kid, but I never bothered with it and I only heard heard its contents in readings at Mass. By my mid teens I was an atheist and that was that.

    Well, I thought I should read it at some point, just for the experience, even as a non-believer. I'm about 250 pages in (Book 7 of the Old Testament, Judges) and already there has been, amongst other miraculous things, a talking snake, a talking donkey, God speaking through fire, plagues, numerous genocides, rape, seas and rivers stopped, and a lengthy treatise on how God likes his meat cooked. Now I'm not meaning to mock anybody for their religious beliefs - each to their own - but I can't help but wonder how, in our age of science and philosophy, there are still millions who believe The Bible is the literal word Word of God. Anyone who has read any Greek mythology will recognise the themes and motifs of The Bible. In the pre-Enlightenment world I fully understand why the great majority believed it; I'm sure I would have, too. I have family and friends who are practicing Christians. I suppose that is the essence of faith: either you accept it or you don't, but it's much harder to accept in our epoch. Anyway, I'm not a theologian and not looking for a debate about the existence of God. Just wondering how many of you might have read it in full? I'm guessing those who have are practicing Christians? Has anyone else read it out of curiosity, in order to experience the most influential book in this part of the world?

    I have about 1100 pages left to complete both Testaments. Who knows, by the end of it I might be a devout Christian . However, due to its importance, I think it can still be a valuable experience to the non-believer.
    Indeed, god really wants to sack his marketing team, instead of some mouldy old book, surely an App or PS4 game would be the way to go nowadays.

  4. #3
    @hibs.net private member Hibernia&Alba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hibrandenburg View Post
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    Indeed, god really wants to sack his marketing team, instead of some mouldy old book, surely an App or PS4 game would be the way to go nowadays.
    There must be Bible apps so you can read it on your phone? No good for me, nor Kindles, as I always write annotations in my books.
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  5. #4
    @hibs.net private member lord bunberry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hibernia&Alba View Post
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    Having always been an avid reader, one of the glaring omissions from my reading experiences has been The Bible. Though it's been the cornerstone of Western civilization for two thousand years and is the biggest selling book in history, I had so far managed to avoid it. We had a Bible in the house when I was a kid, but I never bothered with it and I only heard heard its contents in readings at Mass. By my mid teens I was an atheist and that was that.

    Well, I thought I should read it at some point, just for the experience, even as a non-believer. I'm about 250 pages in (Book 7 of the Old Testament, Judges) and already there has been, amongst other miraculous things, a talking snake, a talking donkey, God speaking through fire, plagues, numerous genocides, rape, seas and rivers stopped, and a lengthy treatise on how God likes his meat cooked. Now I'm not meaning to mock anybody for their religious beliefs - each to their own - but I can't help but wonder how, in our age of science and philosophy, there are still millions who believe The Bible is the literal Word of God. Anyone who has read any Greek mythology will recognise the themes and motifs of The Bible. In the pre-Enlightenment world I fully understand why the great majority believed it; I'm sure I would have, too. I have family and friends who are practicing Christians. I suppose that is the essence of faith: either you accept it or you don't, but it's much harder to accept in our epoch. Anyway, I'm not a theologian and not looking for a debate about the existence of God. Just wondering how many of you might have read it in full? I'm guessing those who have are practicing Christians? Has anyone else read it out of curiosity, in order to experience the most influential book in this part of the world?

    I have about 1100 pages left to complete both Testaments. Who knows, by the end of it I might be a devout Christian . However, due to its importance, I think it can still be a valuable experience to the non-believer.
    Itís the biggest work of fiction ever put into print. I get that itís about an ideology, but it really ****in annoys me that itís quoted as if the events actually happened. All religion is a backward ideal imo, but if people want to believe in it then fair enough. I think modern civilised society was born out of our religious past, but itís also undeniably true that religion has led to the death of more people than any other cause.

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    @hibs.net private member Kato's Avatar
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    Most people who take the Bible literally haven't read it.

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    @hibs.net private member Jack's Avatar
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    My Dad not only read the bible but studied it, he was Church of England although never very religious. It was often 'fun' listening to him and the local priest who would quote one thing from it to prove his point and my dad would quote another to give the opposite view.

    He described the Old Testament as folk lore which after several generations and revisions was eventually written down. The New Testament he described as being like the newspapers of the day, a one sided view heavily influenced by the 'editor'.
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  8. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by lord bunberry View Post
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    It’s the biggest work of fiction ever put into print. I get that it’s about an ideology, but it really ****in annoys me that it’s quoted as if the events actually happened. All religion is a backward ideal imo, but if people want to believe in it then fair enough. I think modern civilised society was born out of our religious past, but it’s also undeniably true that religion has led to the death of more people than any other cause.
    A matter of opinion rather then an undeniable truth surely? Neither of the two world wars were driven by religion. Stalin, Mao Tse Tung and Pol Pot oversaw the deaths of millions yet they had all rejected religion as they followed their cause. Corrupted and not so corrupted versions of religion have been the driving force for some terrible things but I don’t think we can fairly say religions have been even close to being the root of most evil in the world.

    The Bible is a wonderful book no matter how you read it with plenty for believers and non-believers in there. It is a library of connected books though and probably best approached on that basis by reading them in the order that’s easiest for you. I don’t think I’d get too far if I started on page one and tried to keep going, some of the Old Testament books are really hard work.
    Last edited by marinello59; 08-08-2021 at 07:43 AM.
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    @hibs.net private member J-C's Avatar
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    I've read a fair bit and the reason why today I'm an Atheist, nothing against people who want to believe no matter what religion it is you believe in, some find solace and strength from the church.

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    @hibs.net private member Future17's Avatar
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    I've always fancied reading the writings which were proposed for inclusion in The Bible but rejected. Some great stories in there, including Jesus talking down some dragons.

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    @hibs.net private member Moulin Yarns's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Future17 View Post
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    I've always fancied reading the writings which were proposed for inclusion in The Bible but rejected. Some great stories in there, including Jesus talking down some dragons.
    Is that like The Bible, The Director's Cut, or is it more like the outtakes and blooper reel?
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    Interesting topic.

    Slightly off theme but I have wondered that as Christ was born Jewish but by his resurrection became a Christian

    does this imply that Jews should convert to Christianity and by implication it is preferable to be a Christian than Jewish ?

    I am not criticising here, just a simple but challenging question.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pollution View Post
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    Interesting topic.

    Slightly off theme but I have wondered that as Christ was born Jewish but by his resurrection became a Christian

    does this imply that Jews should convert to Christianity and by implication it is preferable to be a Christian than Jewish ?

    I am not criticising here, just a simple but challenging question.
    That was certainly the stance of the Catholic Church prior to the 2nd Vatican Council. The tone has softened since then albeit the belief in the 'one true faith' remains.

    The Bible passage dealing with the question is arguably the tearing of the temple curtain at the point of the death of Jesus. The curtain separated the Holy of Holies from the people with only the High Priest permitted to pass through it. The symbolism of the tearing is that the sacrifice of Jesus opened the path to God to all, Jew and gentile. The old covenant between God and the Israelites was broken and the new covenant, instituted at the Last Supper and reenatced in the Mass as a bloodless sacrifice, replaced it.

    Of course many Christians, particularly the evangelical movements in the US, still view the Jewish people to be God's true people.

    Fwiw I have no strong views either way. Jews believe what they believe, Catholics likewise and atheists think it's all a lot of nonsense. That's perfectly fine imo.

  14. #13
    @hibs.net private member J-C's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pollution View Post
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    Interesting topic.

    Slightly off theme but I have wondered that as Christ was born Jewish but by his resurrection became a Christian

    does this imply that Jews should convert to Christianity and by implication it is preferable to be a Christian than Jewish ?

    I am not criticising here, just a simple but challenging question.

    His name was actually Yeshua which is Jewish, Yahweh (the lord) is Salvation, we pronounce it Joshua. When translated from Jewish into Greek it becomes Iesous (Jesus). The name Christ comes from the Greek Christos which means the anointed or chosen one, put the two together and you get Iesous Dos Christos or Jesus the Christ.

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    @hibs.net private member Kato's Avatar
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    Most wars are caused by those looking for power or profit, even where religion has been pushed out as a front.

    I have a bible which is designed to be "read as literature" i.e. all those verse numbers and chapters are removed. Makes a lot more sense, reads just like Greek or Roman mythology and of course that' all it is, Hebrew (and a few more tribes) mythology.

    I also had, but sadly lost, a Manga Bible. Pages and pages of blood and magic.

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    @hibs.net private member Bostonhibby's Avatar
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    I've read it, a right good work of fiction it is, with some very valid guidance about doing, and how to do good things. All religions and those of no faith at all can take part.

    It's when one claims to be better than the other or have a monopoly on good that the wheels come off.

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    @hibs.net private member Hibernia&Alba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marinello59 View Post
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    A matter of opinion rather then an undeniable truth surely? Neither of the two world wars were driven by religion. Stalin, Mao Tse Tung and Pol Pot oversaw the deaths of millions yet they had all rejected religion as they followed their cause. Corrupted and not so corrupted versions of religion have been the driving force for some terrible things but I don’t think we can fairly say religions have been even close to being the root of most evil in the world.

    The Bible is a wonderful book no matter how you read it with plenty for believers and non-believers in there. It is a library of connected books though and probably best approached on that basis by reading them in the order that’s easiest for you. I don’t think I’d get too far if I started on page one and tried to keep going, some of the Old Testament books are really hard work.
    Big time - Leviticus: a book about food preparation. In all seriousness, shouldn't God have more important things to teach humanity?

    And I have a Catholic Bible which has seven extra Old Testament books. So much for the Protestant work ethic: taking a short cut whilst we Papists put in the hard yards
    Last edited by Hibernia&Alba; 08-08-2021 at 04:45 PM.
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    @hibs.net private member Lancs Harp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hibernia&Alba View Post
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    Big time - Leviticus: a book about food preparation. In all seriousness, shouldn't God have more important things to teach humanity?

    And I have a Catholic Bible which has seven extra Old Testament books. So much for the Protestant work ethic: taking a short cut whilst we Papists put in the hard yards
    You were an athiest in your opening post

    I agree in general with your opening post btw. Humans seemed programmed for some reason to believe in some sort of superior being that needs worshipping, to which across the planet there seem to be different versions of. Before that of course we worshiped the sun but this fell out of fashion.

    Each to their own obviously.

  19. #18
    @hibs.net private member Hibernia&Alba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lancs Harp;6648974[B
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    ]You were an athiest in your opening post [/B]

    I agree in general with your opening post btw. Humans seemed programmed for some reason to believe in some sort of superior being that needs worshipping, to which across the planet there seem to be different versions of. Before that of course we worshiped the sun but this fell out of fashion.

    Each to their own obviously.
    You've probably heard the old saying 'once a Catholic, always a Catholic'.

    I still have great respect for the social message of Christianity; it's the idea the idea of a deity I struggle with. Anyway, if I'm wrong, it's best to show one's face . I was at Mass yesterday - it's complicated.
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    @hibs.net private member Future17's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moulin Yarns View Post
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    Is that like The Bible, The Director's Cut, or is it more like the outtakes and blooper reel?
    Closer to the latter I think!

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    Genuinely great stories within the bible. Whether you believe them or not is a different question, but good stories and made many a good movie too.

  22. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by weecounty hibby View Post
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    Genuinely great stories within the bible. Whether you believe them or not is a different question, but good stories and made many a good movie too.
    Dynamo made a tv series out of replicating many of the illusions and tricks Jesus done as well.

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    Read the St James bible cover to cover and the Quran when I was in my early 20s.

    There has been something 10,000 alterations from the first bibles to those we hve now.

    Both books were written by men with long beards who are long dead. For me, the only difference between a Cult and a Religion is time, and really, religion is asinine.

    Todays religious are really similar to me insomuch as they too dont believe in any of the roman or greek or norse gods etc. They only differ to me in that they have just one more to go.

  24. #23
    @hibs.net private member Hibernia&Alba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1 8 7 5 View Post
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    Read the St James bible cover to cover and the Quran when I was in my early 20s.

    There has been something 10,000 alterations from the first bibles to those we hve now.

    Both books were written by men with long beards who are long dead. For me, the only difference between a Cult and a Religion is time, and really, religion is asinine.

    Todays religious are really similar to me insomuch as they too dont believe in any of the roman or greek or norse gods etc. They only differ to me in that they have just one more to go.
    Incomplete, missing seven books. Start again, please
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  25. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Hibernia&Alba View Post
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    Big time - Leviticus: a book about food preparation. In all seriousness, shouldn't God have more important things to teach humanity?

    And I have a Catholic Bible which has seven extra Old Testament books. So much for the Protestant work ethic: taking a short cut whilst we Papists put in the hard yards
    Leviticus is a book that has had arguably one of the greatest influences on modern society. It is the basis for the teaching of both Judaism and Christianity, and by extension that means Islam as well, on homosexuality.

    The issue is that the text in Leviticus 18 22 may well be a later amendment or even mistranslated. You have to consider the book was written by multiple authors over a sustained period of time. Much of the preceding text deals with incestuous relationships and relationships with the spouses of family members. The literal translation of Leviticus is that one should not 'uncover nakedness' which is seen as a euphemism for sex. So 'do not undercover the nakedness of your fathers sister' roughly means 'don't have sex with your aunt'. The teachings on incest are generally pretty straightforward.

    However there are a couple of interesting exceptions. 'The nakedness of your father and the nakedness of your mother you shall not uncover; she is your mother you shall not uncover her nakedness'. Note the latter part addresses only the mother. A bit later 'You shall not uncover the nakedness of your fathers brother....you shall not approach his wife, she is your aunt'. So a law understandably forbidding sex between a man and his uncle actually becomes about sex between a man and his aunt and a law about sex with your father then emphasises the mother. Why? Other verses drive home their point but it is specific to the preceding point eg 'You shall not uncover the nakedness of your daughter in law, she is your son's wife'. The only verses that don't fit with the standard pattern are the ones which address incest between men. One suggestion is that these diversions suggest that they are an exception to the rule because it specifically needed stated that incestuous relationships between men were forbidden, as they were with women, because same sex intercourse was otherwise permitted. The emphasis on incestuous homosexuality is played down and the act between son and mother was pushed forward. Again, why? Well if you say that 'thou shalt not kill', there is no reason to stipulate that includes both father and mother. It's a blanket ban on murder and it applies to all. By the same token if homosexual sex is prohibited why is there a need to further stipulate homosexual sex that is also an act of incest is prohibited? There isn't because it would already be understood. Verse 22 is likely to be a later addition by a new author, either written at a time when views were changing or the author was someone who held his own strong views on the subject. Either way they have left clues, such as possibly amending the earlier texts to push the prohibition on homosexual incest into the background and thus not marking it as a clear exception, to suggest that amendments and additions have been made.

    Of course that is only one theory among many on such subjects. I think what it does hammer home though is the importance of understanding and questioning the Bible rather than just accepting it verbatim. Whilst some denomination believe in the literality of the Bible, I'm not convinced that is a sensible stance. The Bible may well be the word of God but it was communicated through and written by humans and humans are fallible.
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  26. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Hibernia&Alba View Post
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    Big time - Leviticus: a book about food preparation. In all seriousness, shouldn't God have more important things to teach humanity?

    And I have a Catholic Bible which has seven extra Old Testament books. So much for the Protestant work ethic: taking a short cut whilst we Papists put in the hard yards
    Pre-fridges, vacuum packing and not to mention keeping animals in something like sanitary conditions, this was a life and death size big deal!

  27. #26
    @hibs.net private member Hibernia&Alba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pretty Boy View Post
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    Leviticus is a book that has had arguably one of the greatest influences on modern society. It is the basis for the teaching of both Judaism and Christianity, and by extension that means Islam as well, on homosexuality.

    The issue is that the text in Leviticus 18 22 may well be a later amendment or even mistranslated. You have to consider the book was written by multiple authors over a sustained period of time. Much of the preceding text deals with incestuous relationships and relationships with the spouses of family members. The literal translation of Leviticus is that one should not 'uncover nakedness' which is seen as a euphemism for sex. So 'do not undercover the nakedness of your fathers sister' roughly means 'don't have sex with your aunt'. The teachings on incest are generally pretty straightforward.

    However there are a couple of interesting exceptions. 'The nakedness of your father and the nakedness of your mother you shall not uncover; she is your mother you shall not uncover her nakedness'. Note the latter part addresses only the mother. A bit later 'You shall not uncover the nakedness of your fathers brother....you shall not approach his wife, she is your aunt'. So a law understandably forbidding sex between a man and his uncle actually becomes about sex between a man and his aunt and a law about sex with your father then emphasises the mother. Why? Other verses drive home their point but it is specific to the preceding point eg 'You shall not uncover the nakedness of your daughter in law, she is your son's wife'. The only verses that don't fit with the standard pattern are the ones which address incest between men. One suggestion is that these diversions suggest that they are an exception to the rule because it specifically needed stated that incestuous relationships between men were forbidden, as they were with women, because same sex intercourse was otherwise permitted. The emphasis on incestuous homosexuality is played down and the act between son and mother was pushed forward. Again, why? Well if you say that 'thou shalt not kill', there is no reason to stipulate that includes both father and mother. It's a blanket ban on murder and it applies to all. By the same token if homosexual sex is prohibited why is there a need to further stipulate homosexual sex that is also an act of incest is prohibited? There isn't because it would already be understood. Verse 22 is likely to be a later addition by a new author, either written at a time when views were changing or the author was someone who held his own strong views on the subject. Either way they have left clues, such as possibly amending the earlier texts to push the prohibition on homosexual incest into the background and thus not marking it as a clear exception, to suggest that amendments and additions have been made.

    Of course that is only one theory among many on such subjects. I think what it does hammer home though is the importance of understanding and questioning the Bible rather than just accepting it verbatim. Whilst some denomination believe in the literality of the Bible, I'm not convinced that is a sensible stance. The Bible may well be the word of God but it was communicated through and written by humans and humans are fallible.
    You certainly seem top know your Bible, PB. Have you spent a lot of time studying it?
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  28. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Hibernia&Alba View Post
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    You certainly seem top know your Bible, PB. Have you spent a lot of time studying it?
    Not particularly.

    I think regularly attending Mass helps. If there is something I don't understand or agree with then I'll go away and read some stuff on it to try and understand it better. I think framing the teachings to try and assert historicity and thus give context is important.

    It also helps that our Parish Priest is a really nice guy who is both exceptionally well educated and versed in the Bible whilst also being a modernist/liberal (or as liberal as you get within the Church). He's brilliant at explaining some of the more problematic teachings of the Church and actively encourages people to think a bit more deeply about the scriptures.

  29. #28
    @hibs.net private member Hibernia&Alba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pretty Boy View Post
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    Not particularly.

    I think regularly attending Mass helps. If there is something I don't understand or agree with then I'll go away and read some stuff on it to try and understand it better. I think framing the teachings to try and assert historicity and this give context is important.

    It also helps that our Parish Priest is a really nice guy who is both exceptionally well educated and versed in the Bible whilst also being a modernist/liberal (or as liberal as you get within the Church). He's brilliant at explaining some of the more problematic teachings of the Church and actively encourages people to think a bit more deeply about the scriptures.
    I'm now on 2 Samuel. The narrative story of The Bible is actually a good read. Whether one believes it divine or reads it as ancient mythology, it's actually a 'page turner'. I think many of us expect religious texts to be a dull read, but I'm enjoying reading it more than I expected.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bostonhibby View Post
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    I've read it, a right good work of fiction it is, with some very valid guidance about doing, and how to do good things. All religions and those of no faith at all can take part.

    It's when one claims to be better than the other or have a monopoly on good that the wheels come off.

    Sent from my SM-A750FN using Tapatalk
    I don't get this post. If we all strive to be better people then surely that's a good thing?

    If there is zero morality the world would soon be a cesspit of anything goes?

    Thankfully we live in a country of law and order or are you against that too as it judges people and holds their behaviour to account?

  31. #30
    @hibs.net private member Bostonhibby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Block View Post
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    I don't get this post. If we all strive to be better people then surely that's a good thing?

    If there is zero morality the world would soon be a cesspit of anything goes?

    Thankfully we live in a country of law and order or are you against that too as it judges people and holds their behaviour to account?
    I'm with you.

    I'm getting at when one religion, sect, cult, gang or whatever thinks their version of truth or morality is best or should be brought to prevail over others.

    Never ends well.

    I'm law abiding and happy to be so and not sure where I said otherwise.

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    Last edited by Bostonhibby; 13-08-2021 at 10:54 PM.

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