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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 1: Mon Mar 26, 2012 3:58 pm
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When Does The Bible Become Fact?

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If you don't believe the Bible is literally true - particularly the creation story - at what point do you believe it becomes historical fact?

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 2: Mon Mar 26, 2012 8:12 pm
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Re: When Does The Bible Become Fact?

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AcrylicInk wrote:
If you don't believe the Bible is literally true - particularly the creation story - at what point do you believe it becomes historical fact?


Don't understand the question. If it's not true, how can it become fact?

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 3: Tue Mar 27, 2012 6:20 am
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Re: When Does The Bible Become Fact?

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AcrylicInk wrote:
If you don't believe the Bible is literally true - particularly the creation story - at what point do you believe it becomes historical fact?


The more coherent question might be: "Where and to what extent does the Bible inform our understanding of the history of the periods under discussion?"

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 4: Tue Mar 27, 2012 1:03 pm
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What I mean is...

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Not many people still believe that God created the earth in six 24-hour days, or that Adam and Eve were real people - or at least not the only two humans created. A lot of Christians believe they are myths that represent God's power and the fact that he created everything.

For people who don't believe these stories, when do you think the Bible becomes fact? For example is Noah's Ark real or just a myth? Or Moses and the exile out of Egypt?

Sorry, I was half asleep when I wrote the original question d'oh!

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 5: Thu Mar 29, 2012 1:19 pm
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Re: What I mean is...

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AcrylicInk wrote:
Not many people still believe that God created the earth in six 24-hour days, or that Adam and Eve were real people - or at least not the only two humans created. A lot of Christians believe they are myths that represent God's power and the fact that he created everything.

For people who don't believe these stories, when do you think the Bible becomes fact? For example is Noah's Ark real or just a myth? Or Moses and the exile out of Egypt?

Sorry, I was half asleep when I wrote the original question d'oh!


The Bible (and I speak of the Hebrew Bible, the Christian "Old Testament") is literature. It is not history, not objective factual reporting, and not a science treatise. On the other hand, it is not what is today termed "fiction," either -- that is, it is not consciously fabricated and composed, "made-up" story. In the age when it was written -- or more properly, written down -- those categories simply did not exist.

The Bible is oral tradition, which includes much more than narrative -- "stories," if you like. It does contains stories -- tales which were passed down for many centuries from speaker to hearer before being preserved in written form ("written down"). Those stories very often contain elements which are, or may be, based on real memories of real events; for instance the apparently fantastic events in the Exodus narrative are remarkably similar to events which are absolutely known to have actually taken place in historical reality. The massive eruption/explosion of the volcanic island of Thera in 1628 BCE actually happened, and that event would have produced phenomena much like those surrounding the much more recent eruption of the island of Krakatoa in the Java Strait in 1883, but an order of magnitude more powerful. Fiery "hail" from the sky, burning ash, days of pitch-black darkness, a column of fire and smoke, tsunami, ecological disruption of all kinds -- phenomena which would have been incomprehensible to Bronze Age humans -- and all this happened at the traditional time and place of the Exodus. It's very hard to consider this a pure coincidence.

Does this mean that the Exodus narrative is history -- literally accurate in detail and in outline? Certainly not; but stories from that time were no doubt passed down from generation to generation, and were eventually incorporated into the literature of the Hebrews. Similar speculation surrounds the Flood narrative; there were numerous floods in the Near East in prehistory, including the one that is currently the leading candidate for "Noah's Flood" -- the filling of the Black Sea basin circa 5600 BCE. This would have been experienced as a world-ending catastrophe by the humans living on the shores of the (much smaller) Black Sea at that time; and, again, stories of that remarkable and memorable event would surely have been passed down through the centuries, been altered, augmented, edited and retold, eventually reaching the form we have today.

No one sat down and "made up" these stories; and yet, neither are they conscious efforts at objective historical reporting. They are stories, folk tales, legends if you like; garbled memories of real events that find their origins in the distant mists of time before humans recorded much of anything in writing and thus "froze" it in a standard, uniform narrative. They were fluid, pliable, and were shaped and retold to fit the needs and lives of the people who told and heard them for century upon century, and finally recorded in some of the earliest document ever written by humans. The documents themselves are very ancient, but the stories they tell are very much more so.

And, as I said, the Bible contains much more than narrative; it contains poetry and song, early attempts at formulating law and ethics, the remnants of court records, ecstatic vision, polemic political propaganda, hero stories, cautionary tales, parables intended to teach, genealogical memories, scientific speculation of a very primitive kind, and even some instances of conscious literary narrative -- the books of Ruth and Job, for instance, and perhaps the story of Joseph, all stand out as consciously composed and organized literary works, perhaps based on real people and perhaps not.

We can learn much from the Bible, just as we can from any other collection of ancient writings; not so much about God and science and Eternal Truth, but certainly about the kind of lives these people led, their values, their changing understanding of right and wrong and how the world works, what they thought of themselves and of other peoples, and much more. One does not learn actual history from the Bible, but, as Jayhawker Soule wrote, our understanding of the history of these times is informed by the insights and perspectives that we can find there.

People on all sides of the atheism/agnosticism/theism debates have a tendency to try to simplify this book, to classify it in a neat pigeonhole in order to either revere it or dismiss it; as if it were either inerrant, inarguable Fact from a Divine source, or fabricated fairy tales from ignorant nomads with no significance at all (or perhaps with a very sophisticated 20th-century political agenda about "controlling the masses," which is even more ludicrous). It is very clearly none of those, not least because it is not one document at all, but a collection of ancient documents, each with its own provenance and origins, its own agenda, and its own style of expression. Whatever else the Bible may or may not be, it is not simple, and neither is it classifiable in modern literary or scientific or historical terms.

Nor is it unique in that way, nor is that sort of document confined to the Bronze Age; much the same sort of thing can be said of the tales of Robin Hood and King Arthur, to cite two well-known examples. Did these men exist? Are the stories about them in any way historical? In some ways, certainly not; but neither did these stories arise out of thin air as consciously fabricated "fiction," at least not until many years after the fact when modern authors -- Pyle, Malory, Tennyson -- took folktales that were centuries old and organized them into coherent stories. What truth is there to them? At this late date, it is quite literally impossible to know. But we can learn much about the tenor of the times and the understanding of the people of those times, about their problems, their society, and their vision of what a better society could look like.

It's very easy to allow one's personal agenda, whether religious or anti-religious, to cloud an objective assessment of these very old works of literature. But that is not conducive to understanding actual Truth, of any kind. For more, take a look at the thread entitled The Bible as It IS. It's an old one, but still relevant.

ETA: I wish I had a dollar for every time I've posted this sort of information -- and a dime for every post that ignores it in favor of either worshiping the Bible or dismissing it entirely. The fact that some people make something of this book that it was never intended to be is not the fault of the book itself, nor of those who study it for what it inarguably IS -- a collection of very old documents. This isn't rocket science. It's just not polemics or propaganda, in either direction.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 6: Fri Mar 30, 2012 7:14 am
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The only thing I have to believe is true is the message of the Gospels. I believe Jesus, lived, preached, worked miracles, drove out demons, died, returned to life, and ascended into heaven.

When looking at the Biblical historical accuracy, I look at how it was mean to be taken. Then at the context, and what the words meant at that time. There are several things I believe:

- God created the world
- God breathed a soul into humans
- Humans turned against God

and several other things as well.

The OT often acts like parables and stories, but sometimes I do think it is a re-telling of historical events.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 7: Sat Mar 31, 2012 10:31 pm
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His Name Is John wrote:
The only thing I have to believe is true is the message of the Gospels. I believe Jesus, lived, preached, worked miracles, drove out demons, died, returned to life, and ascended into heaven.

I decline to comment on the New Testament. Those documents are not a part of my Bible, and are not my concern.
Quote:

When looking at the Biblical historical accuracy, I look at how it was mean to be taken. Then at the context, and what the words meant at that time. There are several things I believe:

- God created the world
- God breathed a soul into humans

Jews generally believe those things too -- but we do not claim to know what, precisely, those formulations mean in practical or scientific terms. They may be more a matter of metaphor than of literal, factual, objectively verifiable truth.
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- Humans turned against God

That is a Christian teaching. Original Sin is a not a teaching of the Jewish religion, and many Jewish scholars and thinkers believe that the "sin" in the Garden was the first necessary step toward humans becoming fully human, which we believe God intended and intends. Isn't knowing the difference between Good and Evil something of which humans OUGHT to be capable?
Quote:

and several other things as well.

The OT often acts like parables and stories, but sometimes I do think it is a re-telling of historical events.

Note my signature. Maybe -- but in Jewish belief, for the most part, it doesn't matter very much. BELIEF is not the point. BEHAVIOR is. Jesus himself told a story that indicates as much, of the two sons asked to work in the vineyard; one refuses, and then reconsiders and goes; the other says he will, but does not. The teaching, of course, is that what one says matters far less than what one does. The same goes for professed "beliefs."

John Wesley, the founder of my old outfit, the Methodist Church, once remarked: "What matters correct doctrine? The devils in Hell know all the right doctrine, and for all that they be but devils."

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 8: Fri May 18, 2012 1:06 pm
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Re: What I mean is...

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AcrylicInk wrote:
Not many people still believe that God created the earth in six 24-hour days, or that Adam and Eve were real people - or at least not the only two humans created. A lot of Christians believe they are myths that represent God's power and the fact that he created everything.

For people who don't believe these stories, when do you think the Bible becomes fact? For example is Noah's Ark real or just a myth? Or Moses and the exile out of Egypt?

Sorry, I was half asleep when I wrote the original question d'oh!


First: Be careful sleeping and typing. It could result in some very bad things about you ending up on Facebook.

Second:
The O.P.
I guess the way I would view that is if you believe its the inerrant word of God then one must also believe its rooted in fact. 144 hrs to recreate the earth for man (the last 24 he rested so the only creation would be the establishment of the Sabbath). An actual World Flood. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Tower of Babel (creation of multiple languages). Exodus from Egypt. Conquest of Canaan. Establishment of Davidic Throne. You get the point. Unless it is the inerrant word of God and he's a fiction writer. That could also be possible.

I guess the point it becomes fact is when you decide to believe it is the inerrant word of God and accept that. Otherwise you have little to base your belief on.

My two cents.

Have a blessed day.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 9: Fri May 18, 2012 11:49 pm
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Re: What I mean is...

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Fides et Veritas wrote:
AcrylicInk wrote:
Not many people still believe that God created the earth in six 24-hour days, or that Adam and Eve were real people - or at least not the only two humans created. A lot of Christians believe they are myths that represent God's power and the fact that he created everything.

For people who don't believe these stories, when do you think the Bible becomes fact? For example is Noah's Ark real or just a myth? Or Moses and the exile out of Egypt?

Sorry, I was half asleep when I wrote the original question d'oh!


First: Be careful sleeping and typing. It could result in some very bad things about you ending up on Facebook.

Second:
The O.P.
I guess the way I would view that is if you believe its the inerrant word of God then one must also believe its rooted in fact. 144 hrs to recreate the earth for man (the last 24 he rested so the only creation would be the establishment of the Sabbath). An actual World Flood. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Tower of Babel (creation of multiple languages). Exodus from Egypt. Conquest of Canaan. Establishment of Davidic Throne. You get the point. Unless it is the inerrant word of God and he's a fiction writer. That could also be possible.

I guess the point it becomes fact is when you decide to believe it is the inerrant word of God and accept that. Otherwise you have little to base your belief on.

My two cents.

Have a blessed day.


And mine:

"Deciding to believe" something doesn't seem like much to base anything on...

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 10: Sat May 19, 2012 9:53 am
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Re: What I mean is...

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cnorman18 wrote:
Fides et Veritas wrote:
AcrylicInk wrote:
Not many people still believe that God created the earth in six 24-hour days, or that Adam and Eve were real people - or at least not the only two humans created. A lot of Christians believe they are myths that represent God's power and the fact that he created everything.

For people who don't believe these stories, when do you think the Bible becomes fact? For example is Noah's Ark real or just a myth? Or Moses and the exile out of Egypt?

Sorry, I was half asleep when I wrote the original question d'oh!


First: Be careful sleeping and typing. It could result in some very bad things about you ending up on Facebook.

Second:
The O.P.
I guess the way I would view that is if you believe its the inerrant word of God then one must also believe its rooted in fact. 144 hrs to recreate the earth for man (the last 24 he rested so the only creation would be the establishment of the Sabbath). An actual World Flood. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Tower of Babel (creation of multiple languages). Exodus from Egypt. Conquest of Canaan. Establishment of Davidic Throne. You get the point. Unless it is the inerrant word of God and he's a fiction writer. That could also be possible.

I guess the point it becomes fact is when you decide to believe it is the inerrant word of God and accept that. Otherwise you have little to base your belief on.

My two cents.

Have a blessed day.


And mine:

"Deciding to believe" something doesn't seem like much to base anything on...

I do see what you mean. However, when you actually look at the truth of the matter, you will see that much of what we know is based on what we 'decide' is right or wrong. We all make our own decisions from simple stuff, like what car companies we buy from and what sports teams we prefer, to the more intensive like which politicians we vote for and which companies we work for. These are everyday decisions we all make based off what we 'decide'.

Then there is the larger life altering decisions about what we believe and disbelieve. Do you believe what the Episcopalians do? What about the Jews? Maybe you wish follow the paths of the Hindu? Or perhaps you will 'decide' to follow atheism or agnosticism?

It goes on down the line with many other things. You and I weren't there when the Civil War was fought. So we have to 'decide' which of many historians guesses is the 'real' reason we 'think' the war was fought. We have to use bits and pieces of documents and assorted facts and then draw conclusions. Not all of said conclusions will agree. So then we 'decide' what it is the best fit for our mind.

Perhaps when you read Carl Sagan you 'decide' he is smart but way off base. Perhaps when you read T.D. Jakes you feel he is right on and you 'decide' that he is right about God. Maybe when you read Richard Dawkins you 'decide' he is right about evolution and that there is no god. Perhaps when you read Ruth Tucker you decide she is a crack pot and needs to spend time in an asylum.

Either way you are deciding what to believe. You may not like that phrase but it is still correct. I have 'decided' that I can prove enough that the Bible is indeed fact, that I follow it. Not everyone can see what I see due to current beliefs blocking them, shaky foundations not allowing them to build well or an outright hostile mind that will not see it.

That's fine though. My beliefs are mine. They are for me to have and follow. I love to share them with others and I fully accept the fact that many hate them. But thats their decision. It's what they 'decided'.

“Choose you this day whom ye will serve,... ,as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” - Joshua 24:15

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