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Old Jul 5, '12, 2:59 am
RonPrice's Avatar
RonPrice RonPrice is offline
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Religion: Baha'i Faith
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The Hebrew Bible, called The Old Testament by Christians, is an extraordinarily difficult sequence of books.1 This difficulty, too easily underestimated, is greater now than it ever was, partly because no contemporary reader, however specialized, shares in the psychology of the original readers and writers of The Bible. The first millennium in which anyone read any of the words in any of the books from 1000 B.C. to the time of Christ or, perhaps more accurately, 600 B.C. to 400 A.D.2

My first memories of The Old Testament come from Bible readings in grade six when I was 11 and my mother reading passages from little booklets from the Unity School of Christianity as early as the mid-1950s. Although some of the quotations had a broad ethical appeal to me even as a boy in my late childhood and early teens, I found the stories abstruse and distant: goats, sheep, tribes, and curious names like Balthazar and Nebuchadnezzar. They all occupied another universe far removed from my little town of 5000 in Ontario in that post-WW2 world of the 1950s. This distance existed then, as it does now, nearly 60 years later.

My individual understanding of The Bible, my biblical interpretations, rely primarily at the age of nearly 70 on my experience of nearly 60 years of intimate association with the Baha’i Faith. My interpretations and those of the Baha’i teachings are provocative, if nothing else. But I have always found there to be a vast distance from the psychic universe of the biblical writers beginning as early as, say, 900 B.C.2 and the contemporary society that is my world. I know I have lots of company; indeed I rarely meet anyone who actually reads The Old Testament any more.

However abstruse the language of biblical prophecy and eschatology, the prophets of The Old Testament, I believe, were given a foreknowledge of the events of our times in their visions, visions which I’m sure they hardly understood themselves. Still, there lies a sure presentation of the times we are living-through, as long as one does not take those prophecies literally.

Yahweh's choice of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their descendants as part of the Chosen People story was a permanent decision, intended to prevail into a time without boundaries, into our time.-Ron Price with thanks to 1Harold Bloom, “Prose and Poetry,” in The New York Times, 17 October, 1982: a review of Dan Jacobson’s THE STORY OF THE STORIES: The Chosen People and Its God, and 2the final editor, or redactor, after the return from the Babylonian Exile in the 6th century BC, put all the books of The Old Testament into something like their present form.3

When this review appeared in1

The New York Times I had just

arrived in Australia’s Northern

Territory & the heat of summer

was just beginning to make me

run for cover to air-conditioning

in my office, home and the cool

air of the car. The Old Testament

was on my universe’s periphery.

There it had always been in heat and

cold since those first stories when I

was in grade six in that little town in

Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe where

everyone I knew was Catholic or Jew

or Protestant, or nothing; yes, mostly

nothing and there they have remained

with that Old Testament far removed

from everyone’s everyday life. Still…

I have time now to try to get into it in

this the evening of my life; however

complex and abstruse it may be, I want

to make-up for the decades when it had

to remain far out on my life’s periphery.

1Harold Bloom, “Prose and Poetry,” in The New York Times, 17 October, 1982: a review of Dan Jacobson’sTHE STORY OF THE STORIES: The Chosen People and Its God.
3 See Frank Kermode, “God Speaks Through His Women,” in The New York Times, 23 September 1990: a review of Harold Bloom’s The Book of J.
Ron Price
5 July 2012

married for 43 years, a teacher for 35, a writer and editor for 10 and a Baha'i for 51(in 2010)

Last edited by RonPrice; Jul 5, '12 at 3:00 am. Reason: to fix the paragraphing
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Old Jul 5, '12, 7:35 am
TimothyH TimothyH is offline
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Join Date: March 26, 2010
Posts: 9,849

The Old Tesament is esier to undersand that most people think.

There are fourteen narrative books of the Bible. These tell the narrative, or the story. All the other books of the Bible are supplemental to these fourteen books which include; Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, Ezra, Nehemiah, 1 Maccabees, Luke, and Acts.

For example, the Book of Job is the 22nd book of the Bible, right before the Pslams, but it is supplemental to Genesis. It expounds, explains and supplements Genesis.

There are very good Bible studies do a great job of introducing the Jewish way of thinking, some of the intracacies of and quirks of Hebrew storytelling, and which follow and outline the general narrative thread which runs through the Bible, the story of salvation. One of the best is "The Bible Timeline" by Great Adventure/Jeff Cavins. I highly recommend it.

Personally, for me, the Old Testament is a treasure chest. It is a little difficult to open, but once you get a basic understanding of how it is constructed and how the storyline can be identified and followed, it is an amazing trove of treasures - diamonds and pearls of great price - there for our taking. I'm reading it through for the third time now.

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Old Jul 5, '12, 10:36 am
Crumpy Crumpy is offline
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Join Date: January 29, 2006
Posts: 2,970
Religion: Catholic

You are welcome here and we are glad about your interest in the Bible. I have no knowledge of the Baha'i faith. Nothing I say here is intended to give you offense in any way for your beliefs.

What I've heard sometime in the past, is that there is no religion on earth like Christianity, where the divine being we call God came to earth in human form, to die, for the salvation of all peoples. I do not know how that compares with anything in the Baha'i faith.

Yes, the writings of The Bible are difficult to understand. There are repetitions, contradictions, sections of writings that seem like fantasy, and all this IS compounded by the age of the writings.

Yes, it is even well-documented in the Bible that the "chosen people" didn't have an enduring faith, even when they seemingly should have. That emphasizes the steadfast mercy of God in completing the "plan" for salvation.

Yes, if our God is so powerful, we wonder many things about it -- why there are so many versions of Christianity, even in the Western countries. We wonder why God does not reveal himself in a much more dramatic way, once and for all, to convince all peoples to immediately convert religion, to repent of their sins, and to worship him in one united fashion. But, in the Bible, we learn to trust in the ways of God and we are told to obey his commands.

Yes, when we look at the universe (as mankind has never seen the universe in anybody's lifetime) how all this could be possible.

But, I believe that there is one God, one Savior, one Bible, and one Church -- the Roman Catholic Church -- to explain all of it and to extend the hope of salvation to all mankind. Every man, woman, and child is called and invited to share in this faith.

Quite frankly, I think this is the only hope of mankind to survive on this planet, until the joyful coming in glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The late Pope John Paul II, in the book Crossing the Threshold of Hope suggested that all peoples of mankind are yearning for Jesus Christ, even if they do not realize it. This statement may be offensive to many, but it was said ONLY in the most positive and encouraging way to welcome all peoples to come to Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

The Catholic Church teaches that the Old Testament "points" to Jesus Christ, even if it does so only in veiled and indirect ways.

You are invited to pray to God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit -- three in One God) right now, even if you don't feel that you have faith yet -- to pray FOR that faith and understanding. Believe in Jesus Christ. He died in human form for you.
I rejoiced when they said to me, let us go up to the house of the Lord.
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Old Jul 9, '12, 11:33 am
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arthra arthra is offline
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Posts: 681
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I know Ron should reply here but Crumpy wrote above:

What I've heard sometime in the past, is that there is no religion on earth like Christianity, where the divine being we call God came to earth in human form, to die, for the salvation of all peoples. I do not know how that compares with anything in the Baha'i faith.

I think the Hindu concept of Avatar also believes God can incarnate in human form..but as to the Baha'i Faith we do not believe that God incarnates in the flesh.. Baha'is do believe that the Manifestation of God such as Jesus was martyred for the salvation of all peoples...

Notwithstanding His knowledge of what would befall Him, He arose to proclaim His message, suffered all tribulation and hardships from the people and finally offered His life as a sacrifice in order to illumine humanity -- gave His blood in order to guide the world of mankind. He accepted every calamity and suffering in order to guide men to the truth.

~ Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 449
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Old Jul 9, '12, 1:07 pm
fred conty fred conty is offline
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Tim expressed my thoughts.

To me the Old Testiment is like the flow of a large river.
The main stream is the important part that keeps going and then comes to an end by dumping into the larger body of the ocean, the New Testiment. The main stream is easy to navigate and flows nicely. It's the byous and bays and incoming streams that contribute to the main stream that seem to be the mysterous parts of the main river.

There are many nice summaries of the O.T. which hilight the important parts and filter out much of the confusion, and make it easier to see where it is going.

Now as for scholars, they are on a different level.

Just a thought.
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Old Jul 9, '12, 2:05 pm
teeboy teeboy is offline
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Posts: 524
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Purchase a Roman Missal. We do a reading from OT, St. Paul, and Gospel every day of every year. Go to mass every day, read the readings, and listen to the oral teaching in the priest's homily.

The 3 readings often have a common theme. The gospel is an improvement on the OT reading. Continuity in time with respect to teachings along with a theme of building up or improvement with respect to The Kingdom of God.

Convert to Catholicism first so you can receive the manna or Eucharist. This will increase your learning experience as well as your love for God.
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Old Jul 9, '12, 2:08 pm
teeboy teeboy is offline
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Memorize the capital sins and virtues.

Often the daily theme revolvs around one of these.
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Old Jun 28, '13, 11:28 pm
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RonPrice RonPrice is offline
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It has been some time since I have been able to get back to this forum and this thread. I thank those who have made their comments and, rather than write "point by point" in relation to the comments that have come in, I think I'll write some more about The Old Testament since that was where I came in here nearly 1 year ago.-Ron Price, Australia
I have put most of the Old Testament in the category of literature and mythology. The facts, the facticity, of Abraham and Moses, I am happy to run with as historical figures even if archeology can't find any evidence of their existence. I'm not a Jew so I am not in the difficult position of having my convictions, at least the early history of my religion, in the category of myth.

If I was a Jew, I think I'd be one of the secular Jews, perhaps somewhat like Harold Bloom in his approach to Judaism(although he would not claim to be a Jew even by culture) As it is---I am a Baha'i and the historicity of my religion is not at issue; indeed, the Baha'i has the opposite problem of having a detailed account of its historical origins. -Ron

How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the abomination of desolation....?....2300 days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.-Daniel, The Old Testament.

Horrors are not new in our long history
of abomination and desolation as our
world has found a warm, slowly growing
privacy, within a complex bedlam of modernity
and alienation in mass places: factories, schools,
hospitals, prisons and the very pervasiveness of life.

This concentration of emotional energy in the family
and imagination, as we try to grasp the immense
complexity of order and motion with images of endless
innocence and power in the wretches and names of history:
idiots, chimney-sweeps, illegitimate children, orphans,
nursemaids, pick-pockets, misery in coal mines, factories,
building sites and slums, kings and princes, philosophers
and inventors. We find our identity with everyone we know.

A name-within-a-family and its deeply intensive emotional
nerve centre amidst the vast anodyne processes on freeways,
playspaces, shopping centres, industrial estates, towns and
cites everywhere, codified now by Marx, Freud and a 1000
analysts in a consumer culture where dreams still tantalize
the marketplace and that tempest still sweeps the earth.

Ron Price
21/6/'97 to 29/6/'13.
married for 43 years, a teacher for 35, a writer and editor for 10 and a Baha'i for 51(in 2010)
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