Bible Criticism


What would you say to someone who says this.

“Read Leviticus, Deuteronomy and see whether you would want to be worshiping a God like that who is evil.”


I read Leviticus and Deuteronomy and see a God who is just and merciful.

If I wasn’t Catholic Christian, I would hope to be Jewish.


I have read the whole bible. The early history of Israel was full of violence and strife all the OT does is tell the story of what happened.


First I would ask him (or her), “Do you really think that Leviticus and Deuteronomy show us a God who is evil?” Then, if he says yes, you should say, “Well I don’t think so. Can you give an example?” (It’s up to him to prove that they portray an evil God – not you.)

He may give up right there, because he probably doesn’t have any evidence beyond hearsay. But if he does show you a verse that says something bad-sounding, I would do a search re: that verse online. Catholic Answers Forums is a great place to search; Jimmy Akin is another resource, he is a Catholic apologist who has started a fascinating series called “The Dark Passages of Scripture.” Check it out if any of those passages come up.

In general, people who don’t like Leviticus and Deuteronomy typically cite bad-sounding verses about slavery, women, animal sacrifices, forbidden foods, war, and capital punishment. Each of these themes deserves individual consideration; search Catholic Answers Forums for phrases like: slavery old testament; women old testament; war bible; genocide bible; old testament laws; death penalty old testament; capital punishment old testament. Those search phrases should turn up interesting discussions that should help you understand how to answer charges based on those points.

To go through several objections in a quick way, re: slavery, the Old Testament does not endorse slavery but instead a form of indentured servitude which required masters to respect the civil rights of their workers; re: women, the Old Testament does not endorse any sort of abuse toward women but actually declares their inherent equality with men and contains many instances where God made that evident; re: the offensive wars, animal sacrifices, and death penalty laws, those were temporary laws that reflect an imperfect social condition – God declared in Leviticus itself that these laws were imperfect and that He wanted something better for His people which would come later (the prophets also said this) – but the imperfections were permitted for a variety of justifiable reasons including to teach them the seriousness of sin using consequences (such as death) that only God has the right to inflict.

I hope that helps. If you’d like more information or a more in-depth treatment, reply to this comment and I’ll point you to some deeper resources, but I don’t know of one resource that answers all these questions in one place so you’ll have to be specific about what theme you want to see addressed. God bless!


Great posts and resources above. Might I also add that within the historical accounts of the OT, as Christians, we read divine revelation as a totality, including the NT. So when we read stories, say of Israel conquering an enemy, we are not necessary reading the OT story as an account of a moral lesson, but rather a typological lesson - i.e. that God’s people will conquer their enemies. And in typology, the OT version is the inferior version, so the means by which this occurred is not necessarily an example by which we should abide. In Christ, types are fulfilled - thus, whereas the OT would tell of events in which physical enemies were conquered by imperfect means, in the NT, it is Christ who conquers spiritual enemies by perfect means.


Honestly, the ancient Israelites were always under attack. So were all of the kingdoms & chiefdoms of the Fertile Crescent. Most of the time, the kingdoms and chiefdoms of the Fertile Crescent were fighting each other (especially in the Levant - the western part of the Fertile Crescent - but even Mesopotamian empires lasted for only about 100 - 150 years at a time before the Persians came to power). It was pretty much kill or be killed. The fact that the Davidic dynasty lasted for over 400 years (1000 BC - 587 BC) is actually quite amazing. The Israelites believed themselves to be the LORD’s Chosen People. In order for the LORD’s Chosen People to survive, they HAD to exterminate their neighbors before their neighbors exterminated them. As such, they believed that it was God’s will for their neighbors to be destroyed. It doesn’t sound like a loving God would desire genocide, but the Israelites believed that God only truly loved them. If it was God’s will that the Israelites were to survive, then it must have been God’s will for their neighbors to be destroyed. It doesn’t seem apparent until the Jews came back from exile that they understood (as we do today) that God loves all people. The Jews still considered themselves God’s Chosen People - but their understanding of who God was had significantly changed.

Before the exile, the Israelites had attributed everything - good or evil - to God’s will. After the exile, the Jews attributed only good things to God - evil things, they attributed to evil spirits or human desires. This can be seen in the differences in the 2nd Book of Samuel and the 1st Book of Chronicles, both talking about David’s census. In the 2nd Book of Samuel, “God’s anger flared up against David and Israel”, causing David to order a census. In the 1st Book of Chronicles, written after the exile (probably by Ezra), “An evil spirit came over David”, causing David to order the census. God, of course, does not desire any evil, but will permit evil to happen, though it appears to me that evil only happens when good can rise out of the ashes.


Fr. Barron comments on Violence in the Bible


this is a very vague statement ask him to further clarify what he is saying. What passages does he have issue with? See if he is actually prepared to do this, I think sometimes people hear someone argue something and they say the same thing without knowing to to expand upon it.

If you give you a passage your not sure how to respond to simply say, you bring up a good point and I’m not sure how I can respond to this. Please give me some time to read up on this passage and I will get back to you.

If he gives you a passage you can respond to respond to it in charity.


I would say, “I have read it, dozens of times. I have read the Bible cover-to-cover four times. Want to go fishing?”



If that is the sum total of the argumentative question, I would suspect that the individual is not interested in serious conversation.


I knew a David Zampino in the seminary in Chicago. Is that you, David?


That would be my son, David, Jr.!


Cool! Tell David that Dan Marcum says hi.



Exactly what I was thinking!


The truth is actually the opposite. Man is evil and God is just.


“You cannot read the Bible all by itself and expect to understand any of it. Most of those verses that strike you as strange or ‘evil’ are deeply symbolic, and are not meant to be taken at face value. There is a text called the Zohar, written by mystical rabbis, which explains those symbols. If you are reading the Bible without reference to this text, then there’s no argument you can possibly make about God’s goodness, or lack thereof, because there’s virtually no chance that you actually understood anything you were reading in the way it was intended to be understood. Go study the Zohar, and come back and talk to me when you are done.”

When the person comes back to you twenty-five years later, after finishing the Zohar, they will either a) have completely changed their view on God, or b) be so stupefied that they will never try to start an argument about anything religious ever again. Problem solved.


=adawgj;11366799]What would you say to someone who says this.

“Read Leviticus, Deuteronomy and see whether you would want to be worshiping a God like that who is evil.”


God is and can ONLY be good. So HOW does one explain these books?

The answer lies in Devine Justice. Try to find a case where what God did [actually permitted is a better term], that was not in responce to disobedience to His devine and perfect Will. :rolleyes:

God Bless you,


Man is not evil. Evil enters the world when man thinks evil and acts on those thoughts to manifest evil. Man can act in evil ways, but God created man good. We are all made in the image of God.

When I look at people doing bad things, I don’t think that they are evil, but just good people who are mistaken. All they really need is to know Jesus and they could become the next saint.



DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit