Can someone help me understand some of this?


#1

I seriously would love some info on some questions I have about Catholicism. The more I get exposed to it, the more completely confused I get.

For example, am I to understand that God originally only allowed Jews into heaven but after Christ died he then allowed non-Jews in? Or is there something obvious I’m missing here? Is the Old Testament only meant for Jews and now the new testament is meant for non-Jews? Sometimes God wanted entire people’s to be wiped off the earth…are they just enemies of the time that threatened his people?

Also the Old Testament has some very cruel elements in it, like Judges 19…I’m not sure of what that is supposed to teach me, or is that not the purpose? What is Judges for? Or do we not know exactly at this time?

Is there some way that a person is supposed to read the bible? Like general assumptions about the time period or maybe some of the book is more analogy…or do priests explain it out better?

Thanks.:o Sorry if its obvious to everyone else. (use small words if needed :o )


#2

If you really take the tiime to question the Catholic Faith with a
sincere pursuit of the truth. You will in the end be satisfied.


#3

Your question would properly form the basis for an entire semester course on salvation history. But my understanding is this:

After the Fall of Adam and Eve, God promised a redeemer. But left to it’s own devices, humanity soon declined further and further into idolatry and sin.

Beginning with Abraham, God established a covenant with Abraham and his descendants to begin to reverse this decline and to prepare this particular people to preserve His law and prepare for a redeemer. That promise of redemption was fulfilled with the coming of the Messiah, which is the basis of the New Testament writings. The coming of the Messiah expanded the covenant to embrace all of mankind.

Now, the Old Testament reflects the times in which the people lived. I’m not an OT scholar so I can’t address particular issues of OT history. But Scott Hahn and others, for example, have written books (and taught courses) on this very thing.

(It’s not that only Jews could get into heaven during OT times; it was that nobody could, until redemption was effected by Jesus. That’s the reason for the line in the creed that Jesus “descended to the dead” to preach and bring salvation to those who had gone before.)


#4

PS–when it comes to the OT, I find that it helps me to begin with Genesis, but not necessarily try to read straight through all those books! If you read through the early parts, and follow the story from Abraham to Isaac and Jacob and his 12 sons, the story of Joseph in Egypt, and the events of the Exodus, it begins to make more sense, because there is a ‘plot.’


#5

To put it simply, it was Christ who “opened up” Heaven- so it was not something people attained previously. The concept of heaven is different, and varies even, within Judaism. From Biblicial times we see groups like the Sadducees who didn’t believe in an afterlife or even an immortality of the soul. As Christians we believe that such matters were revealed in the First Coming of Jesus Christ. The righteous Gentiles were in the same seat as the righteous Jews before the time of Christ in regards to heaven in this case.

Is the Old Testament only meant for Jews and now the new testament is meant for non-Jews? Sometimes God wanted entire people’s to be wiped off the earth…are they just enemies of the time that threatened his people?

There are anthropomorphic elements to the Bible, particularly the Old Testament that must be kept in mind. The Bible is the inerrant inspired word of God written through humans; it retains human elements because of this authorship. The Jewish people believe that what is called the Old Testament (particularly the Torah) was given as part of the covenant they made with the Lord. It is a “Jewish collection” in this sense; but it has value for all nations for various reasons- just as the The Son Incarnate came through the Jews for all peoples. God does not separate all his creation from his Word- it is his creation that sometimes reject his Word and keep themselves separate.

Also the Old Testament has some very cruel elements in it, like Judges 19…I’m not sure of what that is supposed to teach me, or is that not the purpose? What is Judges for? Or do we not know exactly at this time?

As I said previously, there is a human element with these books especially when are dealing with Old Testament 'history books." Which is what Judges is- it is a historic book of Jewish struggle in a hostile world. It follows 12 militaristic heroes and reads as such- which is why…

Is there some way that a person is supposed to read the bible? Like general assumptions about the time period or maybe some of the book is more analogy…or do priests explain it out better?

Which is why Scripture alone is a rather spotty in determining what God through someone over 2000 years ago meant to convey. The Collection of Books in the Bible were assembled to assist the Church, the Church wasn’t assembled to assist the Bible. Through the writings of many throughout the ages- one can come to fully appreciate the meanings in the collection. Even in traditional Judaism, “oral” tradition (that which was not written the Sacred Scripture) was used to help understand.

I hope I helped a bit.


#6

The fall of Adam and Eve left man in tremendous disarray. Subsequently, paganism in its most barbaric forms was rampant. In turn, God established the Jews as his chosen people. He did this to prepare man for belief in the one true God and to prepare the way for the promised redeemer, Jesus.

Even though the Jews were rescued from Egypt via the miracles of the seven plagues and even crossed the Red Sea by way of a miracle they still drifted into idol worship. This is an incredibly serious offense against God. Their unfaithfulness had consequences and the Jews were forced to wander in the desert for forty years. The social, cultural, and political structures that were in place within the societies surrounding the Jews frequently influenced them in pagan ways. Even after being established in the promised land, they would sometimes fall prey to idol worship.

The pagans believed that their pagan gods would lead them to victory in battle. The Jews depended on the one true God, Yahweh. The consequences of God sending the Jews into battle against their spiritual, economic, and political enemies served multiple purposes. Primarily, Yahweh sent the Jews against their enemies to demonstrate that He was the one true God before whom all knees must bend. Pagan idolatry and the extremely evil pagan practices were to be utterly defeated as an important demonstration to both the Jews and the pagans that there is no God but Yahweh.

This process may seem a bit extreme by modern western standards, but primitive peoples thought in primitive ways. Idolatry, which sometimes included human sacrifice and other extremely debased practices, was to be defeated. God as creator has all rights over man. In the justice of God, the evil pagan practices and idol worship were deserving of death.

Conversion was apparently not an option with ancient OT societies. A clear example of this occurred when God gave Pharoah numerous opportunities to recognize him and to let his people go. Pharoah, however, thought himself to be a god and hardened his heart. Even after letting the Israelites go, he later sent his army in pursuit only have it perish in the Red Sea.

It would appear that the many battles that Israel engaged in were necessary in serving God’s purpose to prepare the Jews and mankind for the coming of the savior. We cannot see clearly how all of this was done or why so much violence was necessary. Likewise, we do not have the experiences of the OT Jews to really appreciate what God did and why.

I hope this helps to shed a small amount of light on a complex subject.


#7

Although I believe you were trying to help, this post does not shed light on any of his questions.

Sorry, nevermind, i didn’t realize that you responded in the quoted post :frowning:


#8

Thanks for clarifying it. I appreciate the attempts.

So the bible is sort of embedded in the time it was written, so it is hard to look at it now and one should use the historical time it was written in to sort of decipher it.

Do the Jews have a different take on the OT?

Is the bible open to interpretation by each reader or is it generally the same interpretation by everyone who reads it and who is Catholic?

And were there other people in the world when Adam and Eve were created, because I was under the impression that they were created off in another part of the world and then were kicked out of that area and forced to live with everyone else…or at least one of their two sons went to another city or something?

Thanks. It all helps. :o


#9

I agree with Franciscan, that to understand Catholicism is too broad a subject to elucidate here. I am 55-years of age, have been studying it all my adult life and am still learning :rolleyes:

Perhaps less what I have learnt about Catholicism and more about what it has taught me about God, I have come to realise the nature of God which we cannot comprehend, never-the-less is the Personification of 'LOVE HUMILITY JUSTICE MERCY CREATIVITY DIVERSITY JOY PEACE OMINPRESENCE :slight_smile:


#10

This is a good on-line course that answers many of your questions:

salvationhistory.com/Online/intermediate/covlove.cfm

Also, this is an excellent book if you’d prefer hard copy. It’s similar to but not identical to the course above:

theologicalforum.org/marketplace/product_desc.asp?Sku=1-890177-47-4

Both the course and the book are by Dr. Scott Hahn.

LATE EDIT:

Also, if you prefer audio:

ftp://217.160.246.215/pub/audionet/EWTN_programs/Scott_Hahn/Father’s_Plan/


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