Old testament


#1

Should I take the old testament literally? Like its a fact?

[BIBLEDRB][/BIBLEDRB]

I have been seeing at lot of documentarys about alot of the storys in it. Its killing my faith .


#2

Yes, taking it as fact and historical is traditionally Catholic! Its been in recent times that some schools of thought have not taken it as fact. I would much rather be in the company of great Catholics like St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, St. John Chrysostom, St. Bede, John Henry Cardinal Newman, etc.


#3

It reports facts, but you also have to take into account the type of literary devices used.


#4

[quote="ProudCatholicAl, post:1, topic:313851"]
Should I take the old testament literally? Like its a fact?
I have been seeing at lot of documentarys about alot of the storys in it. Its killing my faith .

[/quote]

First of all, God speaks to us through scripture by using history, poetry, song, prayer, curse, and other forms. Consider the parables that Jesus taught: He was teaching universal principles, not actual persons or conditions.

A very good and handy reference for matters of personal scripture reading: Inside the Bible by Fr. Kenneth Baker, SJ. It offers concise views of each of the 73 books of the bible, giving their: place in the bible, the date of composition and author (if known), the theme of each book, a summary of its content, the theology contained within the book as well as an outline and a reflection on a particular verse. It is not a profound or deeply theological book, but one which can help the average Catholic better understand the senses in which scripture was written. I believe it will help dispel the doubt and discouragement that you are experiencing.


#5

But how do you guys make of story's like Noah's ark ,moses leading the Jews out of Egpyt both which are proven to be just myths? What are these story's meanings?


#6

Many men throughout history have said that the Old Testament is not historical fact.

Many of those men are now dead, and their history is steadily swallowed by conjecture.

The WORD OF GOD lives on.

JESUS said that HE came into this world to fulfill the Old Testament, and it still contains THE LORD's direction for how we are to live.

In all, I can think of no history that provides a safer harbor of Truth.

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
Psalm 119:11


#7

[quote="ProudCatholicAl, post:5, topic:313851"]
But how do you guys make of story's like Noah's ark ,moses leading the Jews out of Egpyt both which are proven to be just myths? What are these story's meanings?

[/quote]

Turn off the History Channel! They have lapsed into sensationalism, driven by the profit motive. Neither has been "proven" to be a myth. Those who say so are wrong, or are lying to you. In either case, you are not hearing the truth.

Turn your focus back onto Catholic sources. Turn on EWTN. Listen to Catholic radio. Ask questions here (well, you are already doing that!). The secular world is assaulting your faith. Reject it and seek holiness.


#8

Nobody's proven anything about the Children of Israel leaving Egypt not being true.

As for Noah's Ark, there are a fair amount of times in history where there's been mass death by flood, including the Thera explosion and tsunami which pretty much wiped out Mediterranean civilization (and made a good try at destroying the rest of the world through dust blocking the Sun and changing climate).

Similarly, Sodom and Gomorrah used to be thought to have been made up, but now we know that there really were seven cities near the Dead Sea which went from prosperous to ruins in an insanely short time. We don't know for sure what happened historically, but it was apparently something like a meteor strike or a firestorm.

Just because we only know a legendary version doesn't mean it never happened. In point of fact, ancient legend seems to be pretty reliable on certain matters.

Now, for the usual purposes of the Bible, the important bit is learning about God's relationship of love and salvation with humanity throughout history. So that's what's emphasized by the inspired authors in the more legend-ish sections. In other sections, there's a fair amount of history being taught as history, and it also seems to be accurate.

Our God isn't a god of lies, and the Bible isn't a book of falsehoods.


#9

There was another thread on this recently. You might find it helpful.


#10

"One if by land, and two if by sea...."

I remember something one Catholic scholar of the Bible stated that is apropos to this subject. While it is true that modern approaches to study of the Scriptures in the Church might sound a lot like (and thus often get confused with) the critical approaches that try to make the holy writ sound like fiction, it isn't the same.

Take for example the poem, Paul Revere's Ride, which most Americans have used to learn the facts about the most important horse-ride in U.S. history. Who in American can say they've never heard the famous opening lines:

Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere...?

Now the poem is a true story. It really happened. But the poem is not as historically accurate as you might think. In fact, if you really want to be accurate and get a passing grade on a history test regarding what really happened during that historical ride, you had better not answer with any the details you learn in the poem.

Of course we are talking about a poem, not a historical news report here. It's not meant to read or tell the story of Paul Revere with the coma-inducing coldness of a dusty, small print, encyclopedia page. But it is a powerful tool nonetheless, a tool that brings the truth across even though it doesn't preserve the historical details with accuracy. In fact most Americans don't know much about their own history because it's boring. But they do remember Paul Revere. Why? Because the poem about Paul Revere's Ride is artistic, fun, exciting, and memorable! Would so many know about it if the poem had never been written?

How much do you know about political leaders of the 20th century? Probably not as much as you know about Evita Peron. Why is that? Because there's a modern-day opera about her, entitled Evita by the award-winning duo of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Weber. We can all probably hum the music to "Don't Cry for Me Argentina," but how much can we say about the personality and political views of other 20th century leaders? Probably not as much.

The list can go on and on, but the fact is nobody here remembers dry, dusty facts as well as those presented through some literary device. The Bible writers knew this. Especially aware of this was God. Therefore while the stories within are real, are truly history, like Paul Revere's tale, the writers avoided writing down encyclopedia entries. The information is presented in drama form, and like all dramatic narrative, some liberty is granted here and there.

In fact, not only are different styles of writing and narrative used to tell what really happened in a way that would be more memorable than your school-days history book (and we all know how much of that you remember, right?), to be honest God used the medium of song to proclaim a large number of the prophecies about Christ Jesus.

That's right, predictions about Jesus were often written as Psalms--poetry!

And how accurate is verse meant to be? Let's see? "Listen, my children, and you shall hear...."

True, a lot of scholars abuse the term "myth" and "legend" to make the Bible stories seem false (myths and legends aren't actually false, they are forms of narrative for telling a "true" story), and the History Channel wouldn't be raking in the big numbers for February sweeps by concentrating on how accurate the Bible really is (raising controversy brings in the ratings that makes for big bucks), but at the same time God isn't offering us world history in the pages of the Bible, but faith history.

And with February sweeps going on now, you just shouldn't expect that the secular world is going to back up your faith or even in the scholarship of the Church (even the modern scholarship).

And Catholics should be diligent to follow the direction from the Pontifical Biblical Commission that recognizes and has repeatedly taught that there is a deeper sense to the written Word of God, no matter how accurate the literal words may be. Often it is not the literal details that God is trying to get across to us as much as the reason for telling the story in the first place.

Like the parables of Jesus (which are actually illustrations, like the moral lessons or fables of Aesop--not necessarily true but they teach truths), the accuracy of the divine truth is more important than the accuracy of the words used to transmit that truth.

And remember, just because Evita is filled with dance and song doesn't make it any less a true story....I mean, who really goes around singing every word in their life like if they are Patti LuPone?

Unless you are Patti LuPone.


#11

[quote="ProudCatholicAl, post:1, topic:313851"]
Should I take the old testament literally? Like its a fact?

[BIBLEDRB][/BIBLEDRB]

I have been seeing at lot of documentarys about alot of the storys in it. Its killing my faith .

[/quote]

Yes take the old testament literally and don't watch shows like that on the History Channel! Those shows are written by non Christians so they will of course have a non Christian and unbelieving view of what they are discussing! I stopped watching shows like that that they put on the History Channel because I know it's going to be slanted towards non believing. Those people said things like "When Jesus walked on water it was really a sheet of ice in the water" and crazy stuff like that. :hypno: They tried to say some ancient storm blew wind that made the red sea part. :hypno: They will say anything and try to make it sound convincing. Don't watch that stuff you will be better off if you don't. By the time you realize they were lying the damage of planting doubt in your mind will be done. They used to try to say Jesus never existed then when proven wrong they tried to say He was just a man, then remember when someone claimed to find Jesus' bones? :bigyikes: :nope: Turn off those kinds of shows! They will have you all kinds of confused. Those shows will make you doubt your own existence! Do yourself a favor, don't watch them.


#12

While this is correct, that Catholics take the Old Testament as literal history, don’t confuse that with reading the detail like a literalist. Literalism is an hermeneutical approach of Fundamentalism, which is not Catholic at all.

As the Church teaches:

The basic problem with fundamentalist interpretation of this kind is that, refusing to take into account the historical character of biblical revelation, it makes itself incapable of accepting the full truth of the incarnation itself. As regards relationships with God, fundamentalism seeks to escape any closeness of the divine and the human. It refuses to admit that the inspired word of God has been expressed in human language and that this word has been expressed, under divine inspiration, by human authors possessed of limited capacities and resources. For this reason, it tends to treat the biblical text as if it had been dictated word for word by the Spirit. It fails to recognize that the word of God has been formulated in language and expression conditioned by various periods. It pays no attention to the literary forms and to the human ways of thinking to be found in the biblical texts, many of which are the result of a process extending over long periods of time and bearing the mark of very diverse historical situations.

THE INTERPRETATION OF THE BIBLE IN THE CHURCH
Pontifical Biblical Commission
Presented on March 18, 1994

For example, the account in Exodus regarding the Ten Plagues is written in the form of an epic drama and is not meant to be read as literal history. In it we have the livestock of Egypt dying three times, once in a plague directly upon the livestock (Ex 9:6), another time when the hail falls upon them (Ex 9:25), and again in the final plague when the firstborn of the livestock dies (Ex 12:29). Should and do Catholics read this as necessarily demanding a literalist reading?

Obviously the writer was not writing the text to be taken literally. A narrative device meant to show the weakness of animal-gods (many animals were considered gods of Egypt) and repeating their death three times (the number three means emphasis, showing that the gods of Egypt were truly lifeless) is the main objective of the story in this instance. If someone demands to follow a literal reading here, this will cause them to develop all types of odd explanations (perhaps some would claim that God resurrected the animals in order to kill them three times, even though the text and Jewish tradition never teach that).

So while the Exodus literally happened, the text isn’t necessarily giving us a literal news report of what happened. Like the Legend of Paul Revere, Exodus often displays God’s wonders in this narrative where the meaning behind God’s actions are brought to the fore.

And as long as you keep check with what the Church teaches, there is nothing wrong with watching the History Channel.


#13

[quote="CJeplin, post:12, topic:313851"]
While this is correct, that Catholics take the Old Testament as literal history, don't confuse that with reading the detail like a literalist. Literalism is an hermeneutical approach of Fundamentalism, which is not Catholic at all.

As the Church teaches:

The basic problem with fundamentalist interpretation of this kind is that, refusing to take into account the historical character of biblical revelation, it makes itself incapable of accepting the full truth of the incarnation itself. As regards relationships with God, fundamentalism seeks to escape any closeness of the divine and the human. It refuses to admit that the inspired word of God has been expressed in human language and that this word has been expressed, under divine inspiration, by human authors possessed of limited capacities and resources. For this reason, it tends to treat the biblical text as if it had been dictated word for word by the Spirit. It fails to recognize that the word of God has been formulated in language and expression conditioned by various periods. It pays no attention to the literary forms and to the human ways of thinking to be found in the biblical texts, many of which are the result of a process extending over long periods of time and bearing the mark of very diverse historical situations.

THE INTERPRETATION OF THE BIBLE IN THE CHURCH
Pontifical Biblical Commission
Presented on March 18, 1994

For example, the account in Exodus regarding the Ten Plagues is written in the form of an epic drama and is not meant to be read as literal history. In it we have the livestock of Egypt dying three times, once in a plague directly upon the livestock (Ex 9:6), another time when the hail falls upon them (Ex 9:25), and again in the final plague when the firstborn of the livestock dies (Ex 12:29). Should and do Catholics read this as necessarily demanding a literalist reading?

Obviously the writer was not writing the text to be taken literally. A narrative device meant to show the weakness of animal-gods (many animals were considered gods of Egypt) and repeating their death three times (the number three means emphasis, showing that the gods of Egypt were truly lifeless) is the main objective of the story in this instance. If someone demands to follow a literal reading here, this will cause them to develop all types of odd explanations (perhaps some would claim that God resurrected the animals in order to kill them three times, even though the text and Jewish tradition never teach that).

So while the Exodus literally happened, the text isn't necessarily giving us a literal news report of what happened. Like the Legend of Paul Revere, Exodus often displays God's wonders in this narrative where the meaning behind God's actions are brought to the fore.

And as long as you keep check with what the Church teaches, there is nothing wrong with watching the History Channel.

[/quote]

Yes, I agree. :thumbsup:


#14

[quote="ProudCatholicAl, post:1, topic:313851"]
Should I take the old testament literally? Like its a fact?

[BIBLEDRB][/BIBLEDRB]

I have been seeing at lot of documentarys about alot of the storys in it. Its killing my faith .

[/quote]

Here is a top notch archaeology website: There a dozens of good apologetics resources if you look around. And when you do examine the evidence, the biblical accounts fare much better than the popular media lets on. :thumbsup:


#15

ProudCatholicAl

I have been seeing at lot of documentarys about alot of the storys in it. Its killing my faith .          

Many of those 'documentaries' are designed to do just that. They are slanted, written and put together by atheists who detest God and try to destroy the faith of other people.

For example, every other documentary about the bible has Dom Crossan, a well known scholar. They tend to pose him against a church or library, looking like a dusty old monk. And then Dom, in his lilting Irish voice, begins by saying, "As a Christian I.." And then he says something no Christian could agree with, such as there was no resurrection.

That's because Crossan, a fallen away priest now atheist, calls himself a Christian while meaning something very different from it than what the average viewer would assume. Crossan believes Jesus was a hippie revolutionary - a very, very stupid idea,but never mind that for the moment - who never for a moment thought of himself as God. The fact that all these churches have been built is now just a big, fat joke on humanity, which dear Crossan is here to rectify.

For decades now, I have been watching Crossan call himself a 'Christian' while he tries to destroy the faith of as many people as he can.

And of course, no one on the documentaries ever challenges him on his many falsehoods or on his bias. There is never a fair presentation of the different arguments between theists and nontheists. Never.

I could go on and on and on about the scholars they use. Paula Fredriksen, Funk, on and on and on. Oh sure, once in a while, they'll have a bland comment from the other side. Perhaps N T Wright will be allowed a sentence or two, so long as it's about something not very controversial.

But otherwise, the only comments they will use from the pro-Jesus side will be from men with heavy Southern accents, speaking in barely understandable but not very correct English grammar.

Which is supposed to point out that all believers are lower class cretins.

No wonder you think you could lose your faith watching these wretched things.

The History Chan. would make piles and piles more money if it produced pro-Christian documentaries. There are millions of Christians across America and the rest of the world that would buy them happily. Instead, they only produce slanted documentaries aimed to prove Christianity wrong.

They don;t do this with their idiotic shows about psychics. There are no psychics, and there's plenty of research proving that fact. But the History and other stations put out plenty of pro-psychic twaddle, because they know they will make money with it.

Well, they'd make a pile more money with pro Christian shows..

I always feel it's yet another backhanded proof that Christianity is the truth.

If you want some good books on the subject of the Old Testament or on biblical scholars, I can list lots for you.

May God flood you with light, Annem


#16

[quote="ProudCatholicAl, post:1, topic:313851"]
Should I take the old testament literally? Like its a fact?

[BIBLEDRB][/BIBLEDRB]

I have been seeing at lot of documentarys about alot of the storys in it. Its killing my faith .

[/quote]

If you don't how do you justify taking the New Testament literally? (I'm not saying that there aren't metaphors and such. I mean in general.)


#17

[quote="ProudCatholicAl, post:5, topic:313851"]
But how do you guys make of story's like Noah's ark ,moses leading the Jews out of Egpyt both which are proven to be just myths? What are these story's meanings?

[/quote]

Where did you get that idea? There is no evidence that they are myths. Skepticism is not proof.


#18

Some people who raise the objection that stories from the Bible are "myths" usually get this from scholarly sources that use the word "myth" to mean something different than the way we use it in the vernacular. Because most people read scholarly or critical references without the proper education, they tend to read the words "myth" or "legend" to mean "false story."

In reality the word "myth" refers to a type of ancient narrative that explains how something came about or why something exists, and the word "legend" refers to a story, usually of historical origin, that has been handed down by means of tradition. Unlike myths, legends also tend to add the viewpoint or interpretation of the people or culture that hands the story down to the next generation.

In these terms (which are the actual meanings of the words) the story of creation can be rightly called a myth. The story of Noah's flood is a combination or myth and legend, and the Exodus is written in a type of legendary drama or opera (the film series "Star Wars" is an example of an "opera" of this sort in case you are wondering).

When a person who is trying to make the claim that the stories in the Bible are false because they are "myths and legends," you can rest assured that are likely just repeating canned rhetoric. They are unconcerned with learning the truth usually because they obviously didn't take the time to learn that such narratives aren't necessarily false by nature.

One can't rely be on top of the truth about Scripture if they don't get the terms right.


#19

CJeplin

In reality the word "myth" refers to a type of ancient narrative that explains how something came about or why something exists, and the word "legend" refers to a story, usually of historical origin, that has been handed down by means of tradition. Unlike myths, legends also tend to add the viewpoint or interpretation of the people or culture that hands the story down to the next generation.

This is certainly the modern take for many scholars, usually, however, those in fields that have nothing whatsoever to do with biblical studies. I disagree with it strongly,.

In these terms (which are the actual meanings of the words) the story of creation can be rightly called a myth. The story of Noah's flood is a combination or myth and legend, and the Exodus is written in a type of legendary drama or opera (the film series "Star Wars" is an example of an "opera" of this sort in case you are wondering).

No, Genesis is not a myth, either in the modern translation, or in the older idea of myth. Genesis is not a myth, period, if you are a Catholic. I have heard Scott Hahn describe it as baby talk. There was an Adam and Eve--somewhere, perhaps in some sort of a garden or who-knows-what . But there was an Adam and Eve. And they did sin.

And I am truly tired of hearing about Noah and the flood as a swiped story I mean, really, when will the minimalists throw in the towel? For pity's sakes, the minimalists have gotten everything wrong so far, haven't they? Every blasted time some archaeologist shoves over another rock they find proof for David or proof for ever later literacy. What, what haven't they been proven wrong about?

Practically the only thing left to them is the Gilgamesh story. Any day now I expect some archaeologist dig up another scribbled upon piece of ostraca proving Noah was much, much older than Gilgamesh.

the Exodus is written in a type of legendary drama or opera (the film series "Star Wars" is an example of an "opera" of this sort in case you are wondering

Sorry, but you are very wrong. Exodus was not a drama or opera or myth. Here's a decent book on the subject: Ancient Israel in Sinai: The Evidence for the Authenticity of the Wilderness Tradition by James Karl Hoffmeier

May God flood you with joy and light, Annem


#20

I actually agree with everything you said. If you had read my comments from the beginning of this thread you would see that I was supporting the Catholic understading, not anything less.

The point I was making was that the terms "myth" and "legend" mean something different in the field of academia. They don't mean what most people think they mean. A story that is false is not a "myth," for example, but that is the way people outside of academia use it. And it is due to this misunderstanding of the word that you get nonsense out of some television programs like the one under discussion here. Your statement that "myth" as I was using it is a "modern translation" shows you may not be understanding what I say.

Both official doctrinal statements from the Catholic Church and Jewish tradition and scholarship agree that the book of Exodus tells the history of the Jews leaving Egypt in narrative. Exodus is not written in the form of a "myth," however. A "myth" is an origins story (again, it is not a false story). The type of genre that Exodus is written in is not "myth," is written in the form of a "legend" or "opera." --On the meaning of "legend," how this does not mean false story either, read my earlier posting, #10.

As I illustrated before (and will demonstrate further), in Exodus there are Ten Plagues. In three of them the animals of the Egyptians die off, once in a plague directly upon the livestock (Ex 9:6), another time when the hail falls upon them (Ex 9:25), and again in the final plague when the firstborn of the livestock dies (Ex 12:29).

If this is literal, then how do all the animals of the Eqyptians die three times? If they all died off in the first plague, there would be none of them to die during the plague of the hail. And there would certainly be none left over to die at Passover.

The reason for this three-fold death I explained in post #12 of this thread. Please read that. As to this being written in the form of a "legendary opera" note how the Bible speaks of the plagues using other forms of narrative:

[LIST]
*]When the Exodus is spoken of in the narrative of song in Psalm 78 and 105 all of the Ten Plauges are turned into Seven Plagues, and they come in a different order than they do in Exodus.

*]In wisdom literature, a different type of narrative, the Ten Plagues are changed to only five in the book of Wisdom (chapters 11, 12, 15 - 19).
[/LIST]

Now which of these accounts in the literal account? Was it Exodus? The Psalms? The Wisdom of Solomon? All of them are inspired of God, all of them are telling us the truth.

But one tells us there were 10 plagues, another 7, and another just 5. And again, to make the point--in case you are just skimming and have thus missed it--in Exodus the animals of the Egyptians completely die off twice, and the third time these animals are strangely alive again to have just their firstborn die. The only constant in all the reports is that the Plague upon the Firstborn was the last of the plagues.

They are all telling the truth. The exodus did happen. I'm of Jewish ancestory. I know my people's history, better than most because I am a literal child of Abraham as well as a Roman Catholic.

While the exodus is factual, neither the Book of Exodus or the psalms or Wisdom tell the story in a literal fashion. They each tell the story using a different writing style. If you had carefully read my posts from the beginning of this thread you would have seen that I am supporting Catholic orthodoxy. When I stated that Exodus was written in the form of a legendary opera, I was saying that the facts were placed in a format to tell the story of a great battle, a battle between the God of Abraham and the gods of Egypt. It differs from telling the story in psalm form and again in wisdom literature narrative because they are different genres. (The genre of "legend" is like in the movies "Ben Hur" and "Star Wars," and "Gone With the Wind" is set in a "legend" re-telling of the Civil War. Like "myth," the style known as "legend" does not tell us whether the original story is true or false, just that we are reading an epic.)

To think that if I, a Jew by birth, was calling the story of the exodus falsehood then I would be denying myself and my people. I would never do that. If the exodus did not happen, I do not exist.

And the truth of my people doesn't change just because you use the genre of legend, opera, song, wisdom, or myth to tell it. None of these narrative forms mean that the content is true or false, they are just ways to write things.

You are mistaken in what you wrote in reference to my comments for you neither read what I wrote correctly and you do not know me.--2 Corinthians 11:22.

"Do not boast against the branches. If you do boast, consider that you do not support the root; the root supports you."--Romans 11:18


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