Sunday, September 30, 2012

Worst Bible Passages?

The Violence of Scripture: Overcoming the Old Testament's Troubl... Cover Art
"The Violence Of Scripture"

Worst Bible Passages?

       No. 1: “A man might have a son who is stubborn and refuses to obey. This son does not obey his father or mother. They punish the son, but he still refuses to listen to them.  His father and mother must then take him to the leaders of the town at the town meeting place.  They must say to the leaders of the town: ‘Our son is stubborn and refuses to obey. He does not do anything we tell him to do. He eats and he drinks too much.’ Then the men in the town must kill the son with stones. By doing this you will remove this evil from your group. Everyone in Israel will hear about this and be afraid."  Deuteronomy 21:18-21 

Alan: I believe there is no passage in the Quran as bloodthirsty as this one. Whereas the Quran enjoins the slaughter of infidels, this excerpt from Deuteronomy not only authorizes, but commands the slaughter of one's own children. Furthermore, the obligatory slaughter of one's own children is invoked for behavior that is not only normal but necessary in the developmental psychology of adolescents. According to this Deuteronomic command, I - and everyone I know - would have been killed as teenagers, first being denounced by our own parents. 

        No. 2:  “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you           may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.  Leviticus 25:44-48
         No. 3: St Paul’s advice about whether women are allowed to teach men in church: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.” (1 Timothy 2:12)

         No. 4: In the following verse, Samuel, one of the early leaders of Israel, orders genocide against a neighbouring people: “This is what the Lord Almighty says... ‘Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’” (1 Samuel 15:3)

         No. 5: A command of Moses: “Do not allow a sorceress to live.” (Exodus 22:18)

        No. 6: The ending of Psalm 137, a psalm which was made into a disco calypso hit by Boney M, is often omitted from readings in church: “Happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us – he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.” (Psalm 137:8-9)

        No. 7: Another blood-curdling tale from the Book of Judges, where an Israelite man is trapped in a house by a hostile crowd, and sends out his concubine to placate them: “So the man took his concubine and sent her outside to them, and they raped her and abused her throughout the night, and at dawn they let her go. At daybreak the woman went back to the house where her master was staying, fell down at the door and lay there until daylight. When her master got up in the morning and opened the door of the house and stepped out to continue on his way, there lay his concubine, fallen in the doorway of the house, with her hands on the threshold. He said to her, ‘Get up; let’s go.’ But there was no answer. Then the man put her on his donkey and set out for home... When he reached home, he took a knife and cut up his concubine, limb by limb, into twelve parts and sent them into all the areas of Israel. (In the preceding verse, the man offers his virgin daughter to the mob along with the concubine.)

        No. 8: St Paul condemns homosexuality in the opening chapter of the Book of Romans: “In the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.” (Romans 1:27)

       No. 9: In this story from the Book of Judges, an Israelite leader, Jephthah, makes a rash vow to God, which has to be carried out: “And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord, and said, ‘If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, then whoever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return victorious from the Ammonites, shall be the Lord’s, to be offered up by me as a burnt-offering.’ Then Jephthah came to his home at Mizpah; and there was his daughter coming out to meet him with timbrels and with dancing. She was his only child; he had no son or daughter except her. When he saw her, he tore his clothes, and said, ‘Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low; you have become the cause of great trouble to me. For I have opened my mouth to the Lord, and I cannot take back my vow.’” (Judges 11:30-1, 34-5)

       No. 10: In the following account, the Lord is speaking to Abraham, commanding him to sacrifice his son: ‘Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt-offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you.’ (Genesis 22:2)

       No. 11: “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:22)

       No. 12: “Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel.” (1 Peter 2:18)

       No. 13: "If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives."  Deuteronomy 28-29
Seldom Sermonized Bible Quotes

Alan: It is not my intent to reduce the Bible to absurdity, nor vilify it with guilt-by-association. 

It is an irrefutable fact that the Bible is an extraordinary document, rich in wisdom. history and literary merit. 

Not least of the Bible's many virtues is ancient Jewry's frank representation of the tribe's most notable personages, with little or no "nipping and tucking" to cosmeticize "the unattractive." This consistent refusal to "cover up" the tawdriness and vility of central characters in Jewish history --- indeed, King David himself is described as a peeping Tom, an adulterer and a murderer --- puts the Bible "in a league by itself."

It is my intention to encourage Christians to mature; to move beyond the comforting certainty of biblical inerrancy.

"Mistakes In Scripture: What Happens When The Bible Gets The Bible Wrong?"

"Disturbing Divine Behavior:
Troubling Old Testament Images Of God"

What happens when we no longer believe that the apogee of justice 
is for "the good guy" to slay "the bad guy?"

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