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Old 01-04-2011, 07:34 PM
 
Location: New York City
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Originally Posted by Obamuchadnezzar View Post
And this is when I became an atheist--when I saw the possibility of this. Sure, there's not 100 percent concrete evidence for that being true, but...c'mon...look at how LIKELY it is.

Like you said, Insane, people fabricate glorious national myths all the time. I'm not the type of atheist who's shut off himself completely to the idea of a Jewish god or even a Christian god existing...but this theory of ancient Hebrew propaganda seems more believable. The OT is so obviously concered with Jews and only Jews.
I had, even as a child, always wondered why Jesus was so elusive in the front half of the Bible...
It's actually clear as day when you think about it. I think Eusebius ignorantly believes the Hebrews/Israelites/Jews lived in some kind of cocoon with their god and came up with something different and new completely independent of ANY outside influence. Fact is, their theology and some of their stories wreak of external influences.
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Old 01-04-2011, 10:19 PM
 
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Originally Posted by InsaneInDaMembrane View Post
When I weed through the story of the Exodus and get past the colorful details, I tend to see a few details that MAY tell another side of story if not the real story. The commonly accepted story (well amongst Christians) is that the Hebrews were slaves in Egypt and their god intervened and delivered them after a series of miraculous acts that drove the Egyptians to their knees. When the Egyptians could not take any more, they practically ran the Hebrews out of their land, however, there are some details in the story that might just lead to another conclusion. Is there more to the story?

In Exodus chapter 3, we are told that Yahweh meets Moses in a desert encounter and they have a conversation. God tells Moses that he is going to use him to go to Pharaoh to request the liberation of his people, the Hebrews. He then tells Moses that he is to gather the elders from amongst the people and approach Pharaoh and request a three-day journey into the desert to sacrifice to their god.

Some point out this was merely a formal "feeling out" request of the Pharaoh so that it could be shown up front that Pharaoh was not going to let the Hebrews go, however, the following verses seem to indicate something more on a grand scale. In addition, the following verses are also rather puzzling. God tells Moses that Pharaoh will not let them go so he will have to intervene and deliver the people and upon their exodus out of Egypt, they are to "borrow" silver and gold articles as well as clothing and place them on their [Hebrew] children. What is interesting, however, is that this act would be called plundering.

Two questions jump out. Why was Moses going to request a three-day journey into the wilderness when in the final analysis, the plan was to leave Egypt for good? Secondly, why were the Hebrews commanded to borrow articles from their Egyptian rivals when, again, in the final analysis there was no intention to return anything nor do we ever read they returned these borrowed items. Now plundering would be another matter and would be a better description of what may have transpired because none of these items were ever returned. Considering human nature, this would seem more realistic, but some will take the road of faith and claim that there was a divine mover who worked the hearts of the Egyptians over to sympathize with the Hebrews and as a result, they willingly gave the valuable items to the Hebrews. In this regard, the story then takes on the idea that the Hebrews simply asked for the items and the Egyptians willingly gave or they gave them up voluntarily. Any idea of plunder/stealing is removed.

Then the plagues came. Some have pointed out that these plagues were nothing more than natural events that came about as a result of seismic and volcanic activity in the area, notably from the tremendous volcanic eruption 700 miles away on the Mediterranean island of Thera,* a blast considered to be one of the greatest in human history.

Seismic activity may have ruptured the ground beneath the Nile and allowed poisonous carbon dioxide gas to escape into the waters and shoreline. The resulting effect would create a reddish hue to the Nile's waters giving the appearance of blood (the biblical account points to Moses initiating the event with God's help when he stretched out his hand and struck the waters of the Nile). The gas would also kill nearby grazing livestock and produce boils on the skin of humans. Fishes would die as they cannot escape, but animals like frogs can hop out and find safety further inland, perhaps taking refuge amongst human habitations. Lack of clean water could produce an outbreak of lice and dead fish would gather flies. It is not surprising that all of these plagues came about as a result of the Nile becoming polluted when the waters became poisoned with carbon dioxide.

A huge sky blackening ash cloud may have reached as far as parts of Egypt and darkened the daytime sky and affected the climate which might explain the plague of darkness. The lava blast could have feasibly dropped a hail of fire on the Egyptian landscape which could account for the plague of raining fire and hail. Did hordes of locust also make it to Egypt in search for food, arriving from other areas affected by the blast?

All of the above would be mere speculation of course if we did not have modern examples of such things. In 1986 at Lake Nyos in Cameroon, the lake turned blood red, fishes died, people and animals near the lake died and others broke out with boils on their skin. Africa has three such known lakes (another in Cameroon and one in Rwanda). Lake Nyos is actually atop the crater of a dormant volcano and the other two lakes are also in volcano zones. In addition, it is no modern secret volcano ash can blacken the daytime sky and plunge temperatures. I personally stood on the steps of my grandmother's house in Nevis in the middle of the day in darkness caused by ash from the volcanic eruption on the nearby island of Montserrat 27 miles away.

After these plagues and the mysterious deaths of Egypt's firstborn, the Bible tells us that Pharaoh orders Moses to get the Hebrews out of his land probably feeling the Hebrews were the reason for the all the disasters, a cursed people, so to speak. On their way out the Hebrews plunder the Egyptians who may have been in shock and grief and maybe even afraid of the Hebrews. The bible then tells us that after the Hebrews left Egypt, Pharaoh has a change of heart, a change initiated by God we are told, and he decides to go back after the Hebrews and bring them back to servitude. What is odd about this is that we are told that Pharaoh is the one who orders the Hebrews to leave his land, but then later we are told that Pharaoh was TOLD that the Hebrews had fled the land indicating he was apparently not aware of this exodus and then he decided to pursue them. Playing devil's advocate here, it can easily be deduced that what we may have had was a foreign people (the Hebrews) who, in the eyes of the Egyptians, may have used various national disasters to their advantage, topped off by plundering [stealing] of their property who then escaped during a national crisis. Pharaoh's pursuit fails (bible mentions yet another miracle that aided their deliverance) and the Hebrews/Israelites eventually go on to butcher their way to the domination of Canaan.

Thoughts?


*Some have argued that the date of the Exodus should actually be pushed back and in doing so, this would place it within the same time frame as the eruption of Santorini.
It is conceivable that Mount Santorini may have somehow influenced the events of the Exodus. However, scholars put the eruption of Santorini around 1500 BCE, give or take 50 years. For religious scholars, Moses did not appear in Egypt until some time between 1450 BCE and 1250 BCE. The exact date remains elusive. Regardless, if the volcanoe's eruption history is correct, there still remains a problem as it happened around the earliest possible time that Moses could have returned to Egypt; there still remains the possibility that Moses appeared any time afterwards. In which case, the argument doesn't hold up.

In regards to embellishments within the text. It is always possible as it is true with almost any document. All writers retain their own subjective ideas and biases; it is undeniable. Does that mean that the story of Exodus is completely biased and unreliable? Not, necessarily. Regardless of whether or not one believes the events of the Bible, one must still explain why the Israelites were able to leave Egypt after 400 years of enslavement, which has been historically proven. It is unlikely that the Egyption Pharoah just let them go for no reason as he would lose one of his most valuable tools for erecting his empire, so what led him to do so? If you don't presume Santorini's eruption, then you have to find some other explanation. What could it have been?

Lastly, even before writing permeated all cultures, there were "bards" charged with remembering every detail of every important story verbatim, and these recorders were quite good. As such, the Exodus story, which could have been written as early as 1050 BCE, when Saul was believed to have taken the throne, could have been dictated to scribes in the same fashion as the bards themselves learned. Does the possibility of embellishment still exist? Of course. Like you said, such nationalistic stories are true of almost any nation. However, what makes the Bible accounts interesting in contrast to other nationalistic accounts is the fact that the records really emphasize the flaws and failures of its national heroes, not their pride and/or glory. These texts are more critical than anything else, which makes them unique as they provide a more realistic perspective on the human nature.
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Old 01-05-2011, 06:02 AM
 
Location: New York City
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Originally Posted by Nero777 View Post
It is conceivable that Mount Santorini may have somehow influenced the events of the Exodus. However, scholars put the eruption of Santorini around 1500 BCE, give or take 50 years. For religious scholars, Moses did not appear in Egypt until some time between 1450 BCE and 1250 BCE. The exact date remains elusive. Regardless, if the volcanoe's eruption history is correct, there still remains a problem as it happened around the earliest possible time that Moses could have returned to Egypt; there still remains the possibility that Moses appeared any time afterwards. In which case, the argument doesn't hold up.

In regards to embellishments within the text. It is always possible as it is true with almost any document. All writers retain their own subjective ideas and biases; it is undeniable. Does that mean that the story of Exodus is completely biased and unreliable? Not, necessarily. Regardless of whether or not one believes the events of the Bible, one must still explain why the Israelites were able to leave Egypt after 400 years of enslavement, which has been historically proven. It is unlikely that the Egyption Pharoah just let them go for no reason as he would lose one of his most valuable tools for erecting his empire, so what led him to do so? If you don't presume Santorini's eruption, then you have to find some other explanation. What could it have been?

Lastly, even before writing permeated all cultures, there were "bards" charged with remembering every detail of every important story verbatim, and these recorders were quite good. As such, the Exodus story, which could have been written as early as 1050 BCE, when Saul was believed to have taken the throne, could have been dictated to scribes in the same fashion as the bards themselves learned. Does the possibility of embellishment still exist? Of course. Like you said, such nationalistic stories are true of almost any nation. However, what makes the Bible accounts interesting in contrast to other nationalistic accounts is the fact that the records really emphasize the flaws and failures of its national heroes, not their pride and/or glory. These texts are more critical than anything else, which makes them unique as they provide a more realistic perspective on the human nature.
Very interesting, Nero. I would like to posit that one of the reasons the Jews included the less than savory stories of their heroes was to maintain the idea that their kings, Judges nor prophets were ABOVE the law of god either. If they did wrong, they also led the people to do wrong and EVERYONE was punished as a result. Also, it is clear that Jews (Judeans) wrote up the OT because while the Judean kings are given some favors, there was not one mention of a righteous Israelite king. Clearly there was some bias.
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Old 01-05-2011, 06:27 AM
 
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Originally Posted by InsaneInDaMembrane View Post
Very interesting, Nero. I would like to posit that one of the reasons the Jews included the less than savory stories of their heroes was to maintain the idea that their kings, Judges nor prophets were ABOVE the law of god either. If they did wrong, they also led the people to do wrong and EVERYONE was punished as a result. Also, it is clear that Jews (Judeans) wrote up the OT because while the Judean kings are given some favors, there was not one mention of a righteous Israelite king. Clearly there was some bias.
It's conceivable. I wouldn't disregard that argument entirely. I'm a little confused in regards to the last part. Maybe I'm not understanding it entirely. Throughout the OT, there were some righteous Israelite king's mentioned. The most obvious would have been King David as he was labeled as "a man after God's own heart." He was so loved by God and by the people that it was prophesied that there would be always be a son of the Davidic line on the throne. There was also King Hezekiah, who lived a corrupt life, which supposedly led him to his lethal sickness. However, it was only after his return to God for protection and favor that he got well and continued to rule 15 more years. There are quite a few stories in the Bible that speak of such kings. If you look at the Chronicles, you can see a developing pattern. The pattern goes like this: there is one or two righteous kings, who are then followed by quite a few really corrupt and evil kings, who are then replaced by another good king before he is again replaced by a series of evil kings. Though few, there are a few kings who are highly exalted in the books. Sorry for the rambling.
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Old 01-05-2011, 07:41 AM
 
Location: New York City
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Originally Posted by Nero777 View Post
It's conceivable. I wouldn't disregard that argument entirely. I'm a little confused in regards to the last part. Maybe I'm not understanding it entirely. Throughout the OT, there were some righteous Israelite king's mentioned. The most obvious would have been King David as he was labeled as "a man after God's own heart." He was so loved by God and by the people that it was prophesied that there would be always be a son of the Davidic line on the throne. There was also King Hezekiah, who lived a corrupt life, which supposedly led him to his lethal sickness. However, it was only after his return to God for protection and favor that he got well and continued to rule 15 more years. There are quite a few stories in the Bible that speak of such kings. If you look at the Chronicles, you can see a developing pattern. The pattern goes like this: there is one or two righteous kings, who are then followed by quite a few really corrupt and evil kings, who are then replaced by another good king before he is again replaced by a series of evil kings. Though few, there are a few kings who are highly exalted in the books. Sorry for the rambling.
Well, I am referring to the kings of the kingdom of Israel, this after the nation was divided into the two kingdoms. The writers, clearly writing with a Judean/Davidic bias, were not interested in painting a pretty picture of the northern kingdom and tried to show in their writings how the kings of the kingdom of Israel and their subjects were examples of how NOT to be. The whole idea was that the kings of Israel, starting with Jeroboam, were renegades who broke away from the TRUE line of kings (David's dynasty) and the TRUE national religious cult (that of Yahweh's). As a result, they were painted in a rather bad light as idolaters and very bad people, notably Ahab (for doing the blasphemous and marrying a Baal worshiper) and of course, Jeroboam who we are constantly reminded, "made ALL of Israel to sin."

Some scholars have suggested that Jeroboam was doing nothing more than going back to the most ancient of Israelite religions (going back to the ancestral gods "beyond the river" [Euphrates]) while the Judeans were inclined to the newer cult of Yahweh. Furthermore, Jeroboam was afraid that his subjects would not be allowed to cross kingdom lines to go to worship in Jerusalem OR afraid once they went there, they would stay so he created a rival temple for worship.

I am rambling myself and drifting off the subject, but I hope you catch my drift now.
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Old 01-05-2011, 07:44 AM
 
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Originally Posted by InsaneInDaMembrane View Post
You're really losing sight of reality if you have not already Eusebius. I am NOT saying that the Israelites did not have oral traditions and perhaps even written history here and there. I am saying that it was after the Babylonian captivity they found the NEED to write out their ENTIRE scriptures which included their history and since (like other people of the time) they viewed their presence in the world as some divine calling, they added a healthy heaping of religious fantasy to their history. Of course they wrote out their LAWS to govern them, but you should not confuse their "Do's and don'ts" (the laws) with the rest of the Old Testament. I mean, really??? Who was sitting up in heaven observing god holding a conversation with a lying spirit so he could commission him to go and lie to Ahab? The writer doesn't tell us, but he speaks as if he was there, right? Do you believe he was or do you take some simplistic approach that "well, god must have told him about the conversation!"

Ok, let me reconstruct something for you. Here the Jews are in Babylonian captivity. They are disillusioned. Why??? They lived in an ancient world where it people believed their gods went to war with them. The customary understanding was that if one nation defeated another, it stood to reason that the victorious nation had a god who was more powerful than the god(s) of the defeated nation. This is why there was so much of big to do about Israel's god defeating the gods of Egypt in the book of Exodus.

Well, what were the Jews to believe when they found themselves "by the rivers of Babylon" mourning over their loss of Zion? (Psalm 135) This no doubt led to tough questions. Was YWH inferior to Babylon's gods? Wasn't their defeat and exile evidence that YWH was no match for the mighty Babylonian god, Marduk? The story could have ended there and the Jews could have just slipped away quietly into history, but something amazing happened. Their religious leaders came up with the idea that their defeat was NOT a result of Yahweh's weakness; rather, it was because he ALLOWED it to happen to them because of their iniquities against him. It was out of THIS frame of mind the Jews sat down and found the need to write down their history. The new generation of Jews would learn not to repeat the mistakes of their ancestors and a new Jew would emerge who would be zealous for the law because it was believed they lost it all primarily because they failed to obey the law.

Against this backdrop, they told their story and it was to serve as a lesson to the new generation of Jews and in essence, a new Judaism was born where Rabbis became prominent and the law the primary focus. so how do you tell this story?

1. Our great ancestor was called out by our great god.

2. Our ancestor was promised to be father to a special people

3. Our ancestor gave birth to a promised child who would father the Israelite people.

4. Our people were formed in the bowels of slavery but were delivered by our amazing god who swore them to a covenant to serve him and him only

5. Our people failed to live up to their end of the bargain and was thus punished for it.

In between those 5 things are the stories that fill up the Old Testament and each of them comes with their fair share of miracles and other colorful details.

Now, as for you comment about II Samuel 24/1 Chronicles 21, I'm not even going to touch that one as it makes not one lick of sense to me not to mention one passage saying Satan pushed David to number the people while the other says it was god.
David thought it was he himself who numbered Israel. But come to find out it was Satan that made him and come to find out it was God who made Satan make David number Israel. The Bible tells me so.

Insane, I just can't believe you say what you do concerning the Scriptures. You keep saying the OT was not written until after the Babylonian captivity. Now, after I've shown how odd that is you now backtrack and say they had oral tradition and wrote some things down here and there. But you still have not proven anything. Jeremiah in chapters 39-43 is eyewitness to the Babylonian captivity. Why could he not write that AS IT WAS OCCURRING? And what about all he wrote prior to the captivity? In the chapters leading up to 39-43 there are numerous verses where Jeremiah said he wrote this and wrote that in compiling his historical account and prophetic account. Do you think he just took crib notes?

Isaiah was written around 700 BCE and the first Babylonian captivity took place in 587 BCE. In the book of Isaiah God told him to write it.

Of course some of the minor prophets were written during the Assyrian and Babylonian invasion.

The Penteteuch was written long before any babylonian invasion. They were always reading what was written in the law and the law comprised the first 5 books.
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Old 01-05-2011, 09:05 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Eusebius View Post
David thought it was he himself who numbered Israel. But come to find out it was Satan that made him and come to find out it was God who made Satan make David number Israel. The Bible tells me so.

Insane, I just can't believe you say what you do concerning the Scriptures. You keep saying the OT was not written until after the Babylonian captivity. Now, after I've shown how odd that is you now backtrack and say they had oral tradition and wrote some things down here and there. But you still have not proven anything. Jeremiah in chapters 39-43 is eyewitness to the Babylonian captivity. Why could he not write that AS IT WAS OCCURRING? And what about all he wrote prior to the captivity? In the chapters leading up to 39-43 there are numerous verses where Jeremiah said he wrote this and wrote that in compiling his historical account and prophetic account. Do you think he just took crib notes?

Isaiah was written around 700 BCE and the first Babylonian captivity took place in 587 BCE. In the book of Isaiah God told him to write it.

Of course some of the minor prophets were written during the Assyrian and Babylonian invasion.

The Penteteuch was written long before any babylonian invasion. They were always reading what was written in the law and the law comprised the first 5 books.
Ok sir. There is just too much circular reasoning here for me to argue with.
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Old 01-05-2011, 09:09 AM
 
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Originally Posted by InsaneInDaMembrane View Post
Well, I am referring to the kings of the kingdom of Israel, this after the nation was divided into the two kingdoms. The writers, clearly writing with a Judean/Davidic bias, were not interested in painting a pretty picture of the northern kingdom and tried to show in their writings how the kings of the kingdom of Israel and their subjects were examples of how NOT to be. The whole idea was that the kings of Israel, starting with Jeroboam, were renegades who broke away from the TRUE line of kings (David's dynasty) and the TRUE national religious cult (that of Yahweh's). As a result, they were painted in a rather bad light as idolaters and very bad people, notably Ahab (for doing the blasphemous and marrying a Baal worshiper) and of course, Jeroboam who we are constantly reminded, "made ALL of Israel to sin."

Some scholars have suggested that Jeroboam was doing nothing more than going back to the most ancient of Israelite religions (going back to the ancestral gods "beyond the river" [Euphrates]) while the Judeans were inclined to the newer cult of Yahweh. Furthermore, Jeroboam was afraid that his subjects would not be allowed to cross kingdom lines to go to worship in Jerusalem OR afraid once they went there, they would stay so he created a rival temple for worship.

I am rambling myself and drifting off the subject, but I hope you catch my drift now.
I do now. Thanks. My only contention with the argument is the fact that many scholars today admit that they don't honestly know who wrote the Scriptures of the OT, except for the few that actually flat out tell us. In the case of the Chronicles and the books of Kings, we honestly don't know who wrote them either, so we can't presume a strictly Judean perspective as we don't even know who the author was. Furthermore, if you look at the book, both the kings of Israel and Judah have had bad reputations thrown on them (see 2 Kings). The two sides are both getting bad reputations within the same book, by the same author, which again makes the accounts unique (at least for me) as the author seems to reside in the middle between the two camps. But that's just me. I can still see your argument holding merit.
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Old 01-05-2011, 09:14 AM
 
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Ok sir. There is just too much circular reasoning here for me to argue with.
It trumps your reasoning.
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Old 01-05-2011, 09:35 AM
 
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I do now. Thanks. My only contention with the argument is the fact that many scholars today admit that they don't honestly know who wrote the Scriptures of the OT, except for the few that actually flat out tell us. In the case of the Chronicles and the books of Kings, we honestly don't know who wrote them either, so we can't presume a strictly Judean perspective as we don't even know who the author was. Furthermore, if you look at the book, both the kings of Israel and Judah have had bad reputations thrown on them (see 2 Kings). The two sides are both getting bad reputations within the same book, by the same author, which again makes the accounts unique (at least for me) as the author seems to reside in the middle between the two camps. But that's just me. I can still see your argument holding merit.
I understand. Part of what I was trying to get Eusebius to see is, what if we had a written Canaanite account of things or an account from Jezebel and account from the Meso-American Indians or that of the African slaves and so on. What we have is an Old Testament and even a New Testament written by those who won the theological wars. If you read between the lines in the middle Old Testament, you get the idea that there was a war going on between the cults. The most prominent was the war between the Yahwehists and the Baalists but in between were those who were still loyal to the most ancient cult of El, a name you find in some of Israel's oldest cities such as Bethel and Penuel and even in some of the older names (Ruel, Samuel.) We can deduce that the Yahwehists won out, as it was also the dominant cult in the southern end of Israel - Judah and Benjamin.

David was a devout Yahwehist, but when Jeroboam broke away, he seems to have resorted back to the older cult of El. To me this makes great sense because it is often the rural areas that remain true to older traditions.

Interestingly enough, while I was writing this, I happened to do a search on Jeroboam and I came across this link:

El-Def

Once the "religious" veil is peeled away from the history of the kings of Israel and Judah, a truer picture of what was really going on can be gleaned. While the religious writer gets the reader to focus on a religious perspective, there were political and religious agendas beneath all of it.
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