40 years or 40 days - literal or just a long time?


#1

So me and my wife ( who is in RCIA ) were watching “The Bible” on the history channel with my parents in law ( who are well versed in the bible - non-denomination Christians)

my wife stated that in RCIA the deacon told her that 40 years just means a long time , and shouldn’t be taken literally or something to that effect. her parents were kinda of like uh… why can’t we read it literally like it says? :confused:

I didn’t attend that RCIA class with her and I didn’t know how to respond but stated I would look it up. I have not found anything really and I am having a hard time searching this subject , I have already tried to search this forum :o

so if anyone can provide some info or links to where I can find this please it would be truly appreciated - Thank you!


#2

I can bring nothing to the table but my own opinion, but we already have the fact that the phrase “three days and three nights” is a non-literal figure of speech. It is quite possible that “40 days” means a period of time amounting to more than a month but less than two months, and that “40 years” means a rather long time in one’s life.


#3

Usually means a long time, and is tied to a time of preparation and /or purification.

40 yrs in the desert for the Jews -after the golden calf incident that generation had to die out in order for an untainted generation to enter the Holy Land.
Jesus prepares for his mission by praying for forty days.
We get ready for Easter with 40 days of Lent.
Preparing, and purification.


#4

I would point you to the Churches Teachin on Interpretaion of the Bible in the Church

the Dogmatic Constution on Devine Revelation Dei Verbum
Is a Vatican 2 document, which being Dogmatic is binding. It's no too long and well worth a read

in 1993 the Pontifical Biblical Comission released a document called
Interpretation of the Bible in the Church
The second link is not to a vatican website, as the first link does not provide the document in English.

This second document is one of my current books I'm reading. It points out that there are several methods of biblical interpretation, and none should be used in isolation

the Historical - Critical Method has been very popular in catholic Seminaries, and this document (and others like it) explicitly prohibit the use of this method without reference to other methods.

For a Lay Person, the surface Literal meaning of the bible should always be the first meaning considered. When reputable sources can provide additional information to aid understanding using other methods, such as the Contextual Method, and the Historical Critical method then these can be useful and shed additional light on the meanings.

However if you or another wishes to interpret the "40 years" in its literal sense they are entirely free to do so and cannot be deemed to be in error.
The Contextual method of analysis, would propose that the number 40 is symbolic.
The Historical Critical method would point out that the books of the Pentatuach were not actually written by Moses, but were written around 500 - 600 years later and are little more than a reinterpretation of the myths and legends of the area, with a particular emphasis on the Hebrew people and their faith.
It can go so far as to deny the historicity of many of the people mentioned in Genesis, (e.g. Abraham) or the direct blood descent of the Hebrew Tribes from any historical person who may have existed.
As you can understand taking this method to its extreme without a traditional interpretation which affirms the infallibility of Scripture you can quickly get to the point of rejecting parts of or all of the bible, and therefore the Jewish faith, Jesus who came from it and thereby your own salvation.

Using the Contextual method, which asks:
"what did this mean to the people for whom this book was written, and to the human author, in the context of their culture, and their faith?
Well the "40 years" question elicits a response of "both / and", not "Either/or"

So for a modern scientific mind should we read the Pentateuch with a mind expecting it to be literal historical "facts" as though transcriptions from video evidence, and unbiased in a way that ho historian has ever been able to be? - of course not.
It is far better to read these books as being Parables.
The actual texts as passed down to us today were edited around 600 - 500 BC. probably from multiple sources. There is little archaeological evidence for many of the stories. and absolutely none or contradictory evidence for others.

But to criticise the Pentatuach in this way is like rejecting the Gospel because there's no evidence for the "Good Samaritan", the "Prodigal Son" or any of the other characters described in Jesus' parables. - Yet those parables are the infallible word of God.

The first 5 books of the bible are divinely inspired retellings of the Oral Tradition, and previous written (but lost) traditions of the Hebrew Peoples. The authors and editors were Divinely Inspired. These books reveal Divine Truths. they are not to be interpreted as historical fact in a scientific mindset any more than the first 5 chapters of Genesis can be interpreted that way.

The Hebrew People were brought out of Slavery, they became nomadic and wandered in the Arabian desert as nomads until the generation(s) who left Egypt had all died. After that time they were led to the Holy Land, they conquered it, and took it as their own, under the instruction and assistance of the One True God.
These books tell of the importance of Justice and Law. They tell of the importance of Faithfulness to God. They tell of the importance of treating the traveller and the asylum seeker fairly and justly. they tell of the injustice of slavery, the Importance of Marriage, and chastity. They tell of the importance of rejecting the false gods of the societies around you.

These are lessons we (western society) desperately need to re-learn.


#5

[quote="anruari, post:4, topic:323258"]
I would point you to the Churches Teachin on Interpretaion of the Bible in the Church

the Dogmatic Constution on Devine Revelation Dei Verbum
Is a Vatican 2 document, which being Dogmatic is binding. It's no too long and well worth a read

in 1993 the Pontifical Biblical Comission released a document called
Interpretation of the Bible in the Church
The second link is not to a vatican website, as the first link does not provide the document in English.

This second document is one of my current books I'm reading. It points out that there are several methods of biblical interpretation, and none should be used in isolation

the Historical - Critical Method has been very popular in catholic Seminaries, and this document (and others like it) explicitly prohibit the use of this method without reference to other methods.

For a Lay Person, the surface Literal meaning of the bible should always be the first meaning considered. When reputable sources can provide additional information to aid understanding using other methods, such as the Contextual Method, and the Historical Critical method then these can be useful and shed additional light on the meanings.

However if you or another wishes to interpret the "40 years" in its literal sense they are entirely free to do so and cannot be deemed to be in error.
The Contextual method of analysis, would propose that the number 40 is symbolic.
The Historical Critical method would point out that the books of the Pentatuach were not actually written by Moses, but were written around 500 - 600 years later and are little more than a reinterpretation of the myths and legends of the area, with a particular emphasis on the Hebrew people and their faith.
It can go so far as to deny the historicity of many of the people mentioned in Genesis, (e.g. Abraham) or the direct blood descent of the Hebrew Tribes from any historical person who may have existed.
As you can understand taking this method to its extreme without a traditional interpretation which affirms the infallibility of Scripture you can quickly get to the point of rejecting parts of or all of the bible, and therefore the Jewish faith, Jesus who came from it and thereby your own salvation.

Using the Contextual method, which asks:
"what did this mean to the people for whom this book was written, and to the human author, in the context of their culture, and their faith?
Well the "40 years" question elicits a response of "both / and", not "Either/or"

So for a modern scientific mind should we read the Pentateuch with a mind expecting it to be literal historical "facts" as though transcriptions from video evidence, and unbiased in a way that ho historian has ever been able to be? - of course not.
It is far better to read these books as being Parables.
The actual texts as passed down to us today were edited around 600 - 500 BC. probably from multiple sources. There is little archaeological evidence for many of the stories. and absolutely none or contradictory evidence for others.

But to criticise the Pentatuach in this way is like rejecting the Gospel because there's no evidence for the "Good Samaritan", the "Prodigal Son" or any of the other characters described in Jesus' parables. - Yet those parables are the infallible word of God.

The first 5 books of the bible are divinely inspired retellings of the Oral Tradition, and previous written (but lost) traditions of the Hebrew Peoples. The authors and editors were Divinely Inspired. These books reveal Divine Truths. they are not to be interpreted as historical fact in a scientific mindset any more than the first 5 chapters of Genesis can be interpreted that way.

The Hebrew People were brought out of Slavery, they became nomadic and wandered in the Arabian desert as nomads until the generation(s) who left Egypt had all died. After that time they were led to the Holy Land, they conquered it, and took it as their own, under the instruction and assistance of the One True God.
These books tell of the importance of Justice and Law. They tell of the importance of Faithfulness to God. They tell of the importance of treating the traveller and the asylum seeker fairly and justly. they tell of the injustice of slavery, the Importance of Marriage, and chastity. They tell of the importance of rejecting the false gods of the societies around you.

These are lessons we (western society) desperately need to re-learn.

[/quote]

ok? can you narrow down what your really trying to say? seems a bit convoluted.:shrug:


#6

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