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Old 09-20-2009, 07:24 AM
 
Location: New York City
5,553 posts, read 8,023,248 times
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I am curious as to how many of you as Christians really have a comprehensive knowledge of the world in which the portions of the Bible was written. Do you take into account the political and religious climate of the day? Do you know what else was going on in the region as certain biblical stories and/or characters supposedly occurred/lived? You read of the Egyptians, the Canaanites, the Babylonians and Persians in your bibles, but have you ever looked into those cultures to see if they might have had any influence on religious doctrines and/or stories in the bible? How about the "400 silent years," the so-called non revelation years between the end of the Old Testament book of Malachi and the New Testament book of Matthew, a time that when looked into goes a VERY long way in shedding valuable light on things found in the New Testament?

What about Greek influence (Hellenism) and it's effect on Jewish philosophy leading up to the times of the New Testament represented in prominent and influential Jewish thinkers like Philo?

Does ANY of this matter to you or do you feel that your religion developed within a vacuum, completely oblivious to and uninfluenced by outside sources? Do you feel your religion is completely divinely inspired , case closed? Do you feel completely honest in such a response WITHOUT checking other possible facts? I'm truly curious.
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Old 09-20-2009, 07:30 AM
 
Location: Florida
5,534 posts, read 7,377,534 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InsaneInDaMembrane View Post
I am curious as to how many of you as Christians really have a comprehensive knowledge of the world in which the portions of the Bible was written. Do you take into account the political and religious climate of the day? Do you know what else was going on in the region as certain biblical stories and/or characters supposedly occurred/lived? You read of the Egyptians, the Canaanites, the Babylonians and Persians in your bibles, but have you ever looked into those cultures to see if they might have had any influence on religious doctrines and/or stories in the bible? How about the "400 silent years," the so-called non revelation years between the end of the Old Testament book of Malachi and the New Testament book of Matthew, a time that when looked into goes a VERY long way in shedding valuable light on things found in the New Testament?

What about Greek influence (Hellenism) and it's effect on Jewish philosophy leading up to the times of the New Testament represented in prominent and influential Jewish thinkers like Philo?

Does ANY of this matter to you or do you feel that your religion developed within a vacuum, completely oblivious to and uninfluenced by outside sources? Do you feel your religion is completely divinely inspired , case closed? Do you feel completely honest in such a response WITHOUT checking other possible facts? I'm truly curious.
Although I'm no scholar of history, I do realize it's impact on world religions. And, it has always been an intregal part of Roman Catholic catechisis.
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Old 09-20-2009, 01:19 PM
 
Location: Seattle, Washington
8,435 posts, read 10,560,820 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InsaneInDaMembrane View Post
I am curious as to how many of you as Christians really have a comprehensive knowledge of the world in which the portions of the Bible was written. Do you take into account the political and religious climate of the day? Do you know what else was going on in the region as certain biblical stories and/or characters supposedly occurred/lived? You read of the Egyptians, the Canaanites, the Babylonians and Persians in your bibles, but have you ever looked into those cultures to see if they might have had any influence on religious doctrines and/or stories in the bible? How about the "400 silent years," the so-called non revelation years between the end of the Old Testament book of Malachi and the New Testament book of Matthew, a time that when looked into goes a VERY long way in shedding valuable light on things found in the New Testament?

What about Greek influence (Hellenism) and it's effect on Jewish philosophy leading up to the times of the New Testament represented in prominent and influential Jewish thinkers like Philo?

Does ANY of this matter to you or do you feel that your religion developed within a vacuum, completely oblivious to and uninfluenced by outside sources? Do you feel your religion is completely divinely inspired , case closed? Do you feel completely honest in such a response WITHOUT checking other possible facts? I'm truly curious.
Anytime a doctrine aligns with a previously held belief of paganism it should be questioned. The message was new, not a regurgitation of paganism. Directly aligned with the beliefs of those spoken to.. Jews.

If Christianity has it's roots in Judaism why is it we don't study Judaism? Very Good point. Thanks.
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Old 09-20-2009, 01:56 PM
 
Location: New York City
5,553 posts, read 8,023,248 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by katjonjj View Post
Anytime a doctrine aligns with a previously held belief of paganism it should be questioned. The message was new, not a regurgitation of paganism. Directly aligned with the beliefs of those spoken to.. Jews.

If Christianity has it's roots in Judaism why is it we don't study Judaism? Very Good point. Thanks.
Thank you, but I am not so sure I understand this part of your response:

Quote:
The message was new, not a regurgitation of paganism. Directly aligned with the beliefs of those spoken to.. Jews.
Can you elaborate a little more, please?
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Old 09-20-2009, 02:36 PM
 
Location: Seattle, Washington
8,435 posts, read 10,560,820 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InsaneInDaMembrane View Post
Thank you, but I am not so sure I understand this part of your response:

Quote:
The message was new, not a regurgitation of paganism. Directly aligned with the beliefs of those spoken to.. Jews.
Can you elaborate a little more, please?
Sure...

"Before the time of Jesus, the books included in our Old Testament were recognized by the Hebrew people as authoritative words from God. Jesus certified most of the books in the Old Testament, by His reference to and use of them. There were many other Hebrew writings that were held in esteem at Jesus time, but these 39 alone were considered to be God's authoritative Word, and therefore deserving of our study. " Bible Basics - Old Testament

Paganism was denounced and condemned all through the bible yet people see doctrine is a mix and accept it. The Hebrew people would never have believed what most of us are taught in Christianity today. Jesus was a believable prophet and changed the minds of many, except the pharisees, etc. The pharisees and saducees had their own doctrine full of superstitions.

Yet the church still adheres to doctrine that was not supported by the gospel, for the old was a shadow of what was to come, the new is a clarification of the old and it's replacement without the paganism added.
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Old 09-20-2009, 03:38 PM
 
Location: New York City
5,553 posts, read 8,023,248 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by katjonjj View Post
Sure...

"Before the time of Jesus, the books included in our Old Testament were recognized by the Hebrew people as authoritative words from God. Jesus certified most of the books in the Old Testament, by His reference to and use of them. There were many other Hebrew writings that were held in esteem at Jesus time, but these 39 alone were considered to be God's authoritative Word, and therefore deserving of our study. " Bible Basics - Old Testament

Paganism was denounced and condemned all through the bible yet people see doctrine is a mix and accept it. The Hebrew people would never have believed what most of us are taught in Christianity today. Jesus was a believable prophet and changed the minds of many, except the pharisees, etc. The pharisees and saducees had their own doctrine full of superstitions.

Yet the church still adheres to doctrine that was not supported by the gospel, for the old was a shadow of what was to come, the new is a clarification of the old and it's replacement without the paganism added.
Hmm....
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Old 09-21-2009, 12:45 AM
 
Location: land of quail, bunnies, and red tail hawks
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While history and culture can shed light on Biblical passages, neither is the sole reason the passages exist. According to the claims of Scripture, the Bible records Truth (with a capital "T"). Real truth doesn't change with the times. Real truth is absolute, and the godly principles derived from it are eternal. Absolute truth cannot be swayed by philosophy, politics, or public opinion.

Rather than interpreting and weighing the Bible by the changing times and culture, mankind would be better served by evaluating all knowledge and philosophy--past and present--through the one thing that doesn't change.

Religion is influenced by man's changing ways; truth isn't. I don't follow a religion. I am a follower of the Author of Truth. Any mistakes are purely my own, no excuses.




(And, yes, I'm fairly well versed on ancient history, but I don't claim to be an expert. Some of the history sheds light on the Bible, while the Bible sheds light on ancient and recent history--regardless of whether or not that history is recorded in the Bible. I don't believe the eternal principles/truths of the Bible have changed as a result of man's actions or philosophies.)
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Old 09-21-2009, 10:37 AM
 
Location: Florida
5,261 posts, read 7,680,222 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InsaneInDaMembrane View Post
I am curious as to how many of you as Christians really have a comprehensive knowledge of the world in which the portions of the Bible was written. Do you take into account the political and religious climate of the day? Do you know what else was going on in the region as certain biblical stories and/or characters supposedly occurred/lived? You read of the Egyptians, the Canaanites, the Babylonians and Persians in your bibles, but have you ever looked into those cultures to see if they might have had any influence on religious doctrines and/or stories in the bible? How about the "400 silent years," the so-called non revelation years between the end of the Old Testament book of Malachi and the New Testament book of Matthew, a time that when looked into goes a VERY long way in shedding valuable light-
what truly sheds the "Light" is the Holy Spirit...alone.
Quote:
Originally Posted by IITM
on things found in the New Testament?

What about Greek influence (Hellenism) and it's effect on Jewish philosophy leading up to the times of the New Testament represented in prominent and influential Jewish thinkers like Philo?

Does ANY of this matter to you or do you feel that your religion developed within a vacuum, completely oblivious to and uninfluenced by outside sources? Do you feel your religion is completely divinely inspired, case closed?
...case closed.
Quote:
Originally Posted by IITM
Do you feel completely honest in such a response WITHOUT checking other possible facts? I'm truly curious.
...completely.

Good Afternoon IIDM.

Upon reading your OP, my mind took me back to my younger years, when I was between the ages of 13 to 17. I was still living at home. While my father drank and slapped my mother into walls durring the evenings...slapped me around like a punching bag, I would longlingly look forward to Sunday's when my mother would take me and drop me off at the local Methodist Church, and I would sing in worship to God, (and actually had tears well up in my eyes when I sang certain songs)...in the choir for the Sunday Services, and sometimes even do a solo...with no family member there to support me, and I would go to Sunday School and learn about God and Jesus. Three hours later I would stand outside the church, waiting for my mother to come pick me up, and we would go home to another very long week of "family life."(the closer we came to arriving home, the more I felt my heart sink again)...until the next Sunday.
During these "formative" years, while growing up, I never really understood the words I read in the dusty KJV Family Bible that I would grab off of the bookshelf, but something, (which I now know was the Holy Spirit), drew me to it, and I would always go to the pretty red print, so that I could read what Jesus was saying...still not truly understanding it all, (by no means), but reading it anyway while laying on my bed in my room with my door closed to the pain, strife and unrest going on outside that door.
I look back now, on my life growing up...and leaving all the awful aspects out, (which made up most of my life), and instead, focusing on the moments spent thinking about God and Jesus and who they were, and what they meant to me, and how distant they seemed to be from me, but wanting them to love me and accept me, and help me out of whatever it was I was experiencing...I remember always wanting to find a Bible, somewhere, just to read what I didn't really understand, but found comfort in anyway...somehow, (again, now realizing it was the Holy Spirit).
The day I asked the Lord to come into my heart...in 1988 up to about 3 years ago, I never once searched for the history of the "religious or political climate of the day," I never once felt the need to research the cultures of the day and their influence upon these precious words I was drawn to read for comfort so often...all I had was the Bible...the Word of God, and it spoke to me...it lead me and guided me through all the trials and tribulations that came my way. God spoke to me through the Holy Spirit, and guided me every step of the way, and brought me to exactly where He wants me to be today, which is the most wonderful, blessed place a person could ever be, and I trust Him to continue to guide me in the same fashion as He has done thus far.
That isn't to say that now, as I mature in the Word of the Lord, that I don't search certain things that intrigue me concerning different aspects of the history of the Bible...because the history is very interesting to me now...but...it isn't about obtaining all this "knowledge" in order to make wise decisions concerning what God's will is for my life, and what He desires for me to do in service to Him...no...I don't need to know about the cultures and their influence upon the Written and the Living Word of God...it IS absolutely a divinely inspired Word of the Living God above, through His precious Holy spirit that guides me in the way I KNOW I should go.
This divinely, inspired Word of the Living God has not failed me yet, and it never will, whether I know about the "surrounding cultures", or not...this type of knowledge can never get the credit for bringing me through terrible, dark times, and coming out of them a victorious overcomer of sin! This type of knowledge can never get the credit for teaching me about the Love of God...what Jesus has done for me and what He deserves in return in the form of true love...or what the power of the Holy Spirit can do for me in seeing me through this life of wickedness that surrounds me...I haven't EVER needed this kind of knowledge that you speak of...and I NEVER will need it to understand the Love of God and what He requires of me as a son of God...the Word, just as it is, stands alone, and it is all that I need.

When I'm going through trouble or when I am hurting or confused...it isn't a world history or geography book or a lexicon...or a piece of literature that I run to for guidance or comfort..it is the Word of God, Written and Living that I run to for my answers.

In Christ,
Verna.
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Old 09-22-2009, 10:57 PM
 
20 posts, read 31,283 times
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Insane
I have read widely. I study the ancient Sumerian texts. I follow the archaeology of the region. I read up on the history of Egypt and Greece. I examine the scholarly writings on ancient religions whether on the mother goddess, the golden bough or the hero with a thousand faces. The biology and geology of the region are also important to me. It has convinced me of the accuracy and the power of the scriptures, though not always the accuracy of the traditional interpretations.
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Old 09-28-2009, 11:24 AM
 
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Insane In Da Membrane, I am so glad that you posted this question about looking into the political and religious climate of the day in which the bible was written. I completely agree with the fact that looking into these dramatically affects the way in which we read and understand the biblical texts. Thanks for making this a point of discussion. Correct me if I am wrong, but it sounds like you have done some of this work, and perhaps do not claim the bible (or the Old and New Testaments) as part of your religious/spiritual life? How did you come to look into this topic of interest?

After some study, I would add that I think the religious and political climate of the Old Testament dramatically influenced its composition and meaning. I think this is true from the creation account in Genesis, all the way to the how Jesus is viewed in the New Testament based on many messianic texts from the Old Testament. Again, I think the political and religious climate from the Old Testament had a lot to do with the reason for which messianic texts were written. To throw a confessional statement in the mix, I do believe that Jesus is the son of God. However, I would say that perhaps many of the texts in the Old Testament that are "messianic" very likely were not referring to Jesus--there were and can be many other factors involved as you have addressed. I would also add that, based on what is actually written in the Old Testament and in numerous other texts from biblical times, I think the Israelites were not always monotheists, and that the God of Israel (and of the New Testament) revealed Godself through progressive revelation.

I am curious a little about this quote from greentwiga's post: "It has convinced me of the accuracy and the power of the scriptures, though not always the accuracy of the traditional interpretations."

Any thoughts?
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