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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » The Bible, written by God?

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Author Topic: The Bible, written by God?
Djuna
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Okay, I got really freaked out the other day when I was reading a bit of the Bible in RE and I came across a bit in Leviticus when God is giving the Israelites laws on sexual practices.
And it says that God hates homosexuals. So I was wondering, does anyone know who wrote Leviticus? Is it likely they added that bit themselves? Because although I disagree with the Church on a lot of things, I've always had a thing that I follow everything in the Bible that is so something God or Jesus said. But this one would be a problem, because I would find it morally wrong to have a problem with homosexual people.
By the way, just while I'm ranting, does anyone else think that St Paul comes off as a real chauvinist? A lot of his stuff is very anti-women, and it bugs me.

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ďIn a strange room, before you are emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are filled with sleep you never were. I donít know what I am. I donít know if I am or not... how often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.Ē

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wobblyheadedjane
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Though scriptural scholars can say with some knowledge which parts of the Bible are written by different authors, it's not always possible to pinpoint which parts are additions by later authors or scribes. From what I can tell from scanning the passage in question (I'm assuming you're talking Lev 18) the surrounding text seems to have a uniform flow, and the admonition against lying with men follows naturally from the concepts of proper and improper nakedness. So, were I to hedge a bet, I would say no, that portion of Leviticus isn't an addition in the loosest sense.
Also, bear in mind that the book of Leviticus, while purported by many literalists as having been written by Moses, was actually written quite a few centuries after the time when the exodus of the Israelites was supposed to have happened.

While the idea of the Bible being God-inspired is up for debate, you won't find many scholars claiming that the Bible is a unified chunk of text that descended on a beam of light from Heaven [Smile] But asking questions, and taking your studies to a deeper level are always worthwhile in faith and in academics, I think. If you're interested in doing some reading on the topic, I can recommend Marshall D. Johnson's Making Sense of the Bible as a readable, comprehensive breakdown of the literary types of the Bible (Old and New.) If you want to read up more on sources of the Old Testament, Campbell and O'Brien wrote a very good breakdown of various sources called Sources of the Pentateuch, Pentateuch being the name for the first five books of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible.

(As for Saint Paul, I find that he's a pretty divisive character - I even heard one person critique him as the jerk who glommed on to Jesus' good message. But you'll find scholarly critiques that contend that the anti-women messages in a lot of Paul's writing were later additions by one of his disciples. I tend to disagree, since Paul was a product of relatively anti-woman times and beliefs, but it's really up in the air, and you might find reading about that interesting also.)

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Unlucky at cards; lucky at love.

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Djuna
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Those books definitely look like they're worth checking out. Thanks.
So if Leviticus (by the way it was Chapter 18) was written a few centuries after Moses was given all these laws by God, is it likely that this passage was sort of an amalgamation of laws given by God and laws made up by the Israelites? Like imagine if the US constituton was only written down after the first 7 amendments.

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ďIn a strange room, before you are emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are filled with sleep you never were. I donít know what I am. I donít know if I am or not... how often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.Ē

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KittenGoddess
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It's also worth noting that unless you are reading the text in the original language, you are reading a translation done by men a long time after it was written.

No matter who you take it as inspired by, or who you accept it as originally written down by...many many many other folks over the years have participated in the recording, re-recording, editing, and translation of the text. So their needs, concerns, desires, cultural norms, values, outlooks, and motives have influenced what you get when you read the KJV or NIV (or whatever version you prefer). The closest you are going to get is likely to go to the original language and read the text in that language (and even at that, many scholars agree now that various groups of elders provided edits to the texts over the years before it was translated into any modern language, where further edits occured as well).

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Sarah Liz

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wobblyheadedjane
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KittenGoddess makes a good point too - even in the original Hebrew, words are incredibly versatile. The same word can mean judgement, justice, retribution, and ransom, all of which have very different meanings in English. Depending on which word the translator chooses can have an impact on how the passage is received. Consider "The LORD loves justice" compared to "The LORD loves retribution," they make completely different cases.

smileyjoseph, while I haven't studied Leviticus in detail (mostly Genesis and Exodus) there are two big source break-downs in the Old Testament: writers who were writing during the monarchy, with King David and Solomon and the like, and writers were who writing during the Babylonian exile. (Later texts of the OT have writers who are back after the exile too, called post-exilic.) So their political concerns and ideas will colour what's being written. Exilic writers are concered with preserving the notion that God will deliver them from oppression, and that God is benevolent but remote force (the burning bush and pillar of cloud in Exodus.) Monarchic writers on the other hand, have a familial ideal of God (the physical God who walks with them in the Garden of Eden) because they have his physical representative, a King, with them. Monarchic authors are often more concerned with the physical land of Israel as well, where exilic authors are not, because they don't have it anymore.

Just quickly to sum up, when you write, even if you're writing about something as high-minded as God or love, you're writing what you're feeling at that moment, right? It's good to keep in mind that the authors who wrote the Bible were doing something very similar to that.

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Unlucky at cards; lucky at love.

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biblacknproud87
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quote:
By the way, just while I'm ranting, does anyone else think that St Paul comes off as a real chauvinist? A lot of his stuff is very anti-women, and it bugs me.
Hello. *waves* I'm no Bible scholar, but I took a class (nonreligious) on the New Testament my first year of college, and many nonreligious Biblical scholars believe that Paul is not the author of the books in the New Testament (such as Titus, which is one I'm sure you're referring to) that are very sexist in their views and ideas. This is based on the style of writing and things like that (it's been a while since I took the class, but I do believe I still have the books around here somewhere).

:-D

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I'm lovely
I'm beautiful
I love myself
I need me
Before I need anyone else

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Djuna
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Thanks. The reason the St. Paul thing bothered me was because I chose Paul as my confirmation name long before I found out the kind of stuff that was in his letters. I didn't know how much the Bible had been added to, thanks for pointing all this out. [Smile]

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ďIn a strange room, before you are emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are filled with sleep you never were. I donít know what I am. I donít know if I am or not... how often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.Ē

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mellygirl
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As far as the OT question is concerned, although Leviticus and a few other books were, indeed, written centuries after the events occurred, it's unlikely that someone other than Moses wrote Leviticus. I often have to remind myself that people lived much, much longer than they do now.

Also, it's unlikely for me to see that things could have, or would have, been changed from their original form. When the laws were given to Moses and Aaron from God, I'd imagine that it was a frickin awesome experience. And any amazing times in my life I remember very very well. Try to remember like the coolest day you had as a kid. I bet you can remember conversations and exact words that your parents (or anyone) said to you. I know I can. And seeing as the Bible is the inspired word of God, I'd imagine that He would keep it from being tweaked too far from it's original meaning, especially the law part.

What I also try hard to remember is that when Jesus died on the cross, the temple curtain was torn in two. The old laws and old ways of the OT were no longer necessary. Now, instead of performing rituals to purify yourself, etc., all it takes for salvation is belief in Jesus as the Savior. So getting caught up in detailed laws of the OT seems, to me, unimportant because it has no effect on MY relationship with Christ and my salvation (although, for other Christians and other religious people, it may be important and I totally respect that) [Smile]

And in response to the human error of translating and editing:
Old scholors (like from woah way back), when copying the Bible by hand were required to copy LETTER BY LETTER, not even word for word. So chances of a mix-up are scant. (seems awful precise to me, anyways...) I wish I had that kind of patience! [Smile]

Translations are really and truly interpretations in most cases, and at least partially in all cases. However, I believe that God specializes in using imperfection to acomplish perfection. (Thinking of Mary, a sinful woman giving birth to the sinless savior of the world; Paul, a murderer who spread Christianity to the gentiles... etc). So God can use people, imperfect as we all are, to write His perfect word and translate it. Every word cannot be translated perfectly. The Bible has at least 6 words for English's one: love. But as far as our languages will permit, I believe that the Bible is the word of God written through people.

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*Melanny*

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KittenGoddess
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In light of the fact that this discussion has primarily become one of theology unrelated to sexuality, I'm going to go ahead and close the topic.

We are not expert religious scholars here. Should folks have questions about ANY religious or sacred text, we would encourage you to speak with the leaders of your particular church or organization, read widely of the scholars who have devoted their lives to studying the texts, read the texts carefully yourselves, and to consider your own beliefs.

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Sarah Liz

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