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View Diary: Why do so many folks here use the term "Old Testament" as code for barbarism? (265 comments)

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    •  As opposed to what?? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TiaRachel, Kevskos, Paul Rogers

      A "bipolar" NT that argues "blessed are the meek" in one place and "I'll throw you in the lake of fire if you don't believe I'm Messiah" in another?

      •  as "opposed" to nothing (9+ / 0-)

        or are you trying to prove the NT is as bad as the OT? Ones frame of reference needn't be the NT, it can be just morality and justice.

        America could have chosen to be the worlds doctor, or grocer. We choose instead to be her policeman. pity

        by cacamp on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 03:58:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, the "Old" testament is only 'old' (5+ / 0-)

          in relation to the 'New' testament -- and the whole thing was carefully constructed to serve the theological purposes of the church.

          Even seeing the work as instructive rather than descriptive is an approach formed by certain christianities. There can be morality/justice in looking at those stories (things that happened) and challenging the being that made those things happen. They don't have to be read as "this is the way things should be" or "we must learn to accept that whatever God does is by definition good."

        •  Which you are pulling from your, um, where? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Diamond Mind, leftymama, Lujane

          You come from a certain culture, which has roots in a medieval Christian West European civilization.  You don't have to be a church-goer or even a theist to come from what are basically Christian or European conceptions, notions, or even prejudices.  To what extent can you honestly say that your notions of "morality" or "justice" are more than slightly divorced from those of traditional, European (hell, add "patriarchal" if you like) tradition.

          Anybody who talks about the Old Testament is using a Christian frame, since the Old Testament is a Christian frame for the Hebrew scriptures -- a frame that specifically sees the Jewish tradition as outmoded, defective and superseded.  This is a point of view that goes back to within a century of the Crucifixion -- google "Justine Martyr" to see what I mean.

           

          [I]t is totally not true that Mitt Romney strapped Paul Ryan to the top of a car and drove him to Canada. Stop spreading rumors! -- Gail Collins

          by mbayrob on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 04:29:20 PM PST

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          •  Well, he actually comes from a native american (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            millwood

            culture. But I'd agree that along these lines, his education has almost certainly been as you describe.

            •  His arguments aren't really native american here (0+ / 0-)

              I can't claim to know that much about the traditional beliefs of pre-Columbian peoples of what is now the US; I know a bit about Mesoamerican beliefs, which have some shared themes between the cultures of old Mexico and Central America.

              But to the extent that most of us here were raised in the US and student in American schools, the default assumptions of the culture are those of Western European civilization, in which "the shul you don't go to" is a Christian church.  Even for people who reject traditional Christian religion, the terms of reference when discussing religion and morality were mostly forged in relation to a society that was originally Christian (and Roman Catholic at that).

              This is not the way Jews in Europe thought about these things, and it's certainly not the way most cultures in Asia think about them.  But when you discuss religion in American English, you almost don't have the words you need to talk about them any other way.

              [I]t is totally not true that Mitt Romney strapped Paul Ryan to the top of a car and drove him to Canada. Stop spreading rumors! -- Gail Collins

              by mbayrob on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 10:31:28 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  Christianity is often like US right wingers (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TiaRachel, gustynpip

        It never fails; if an apparent Christian screws up, they're not a Christian.  Which does away with the need for self-reflection -- they can never be in error, since if you are in error, you are excluded from the Elect.

        Jews piss on each other all the time, but they don't assume that Jews who screw up aren't Jews.  Schmucks, schmendricks, idiots, or evil sumbitches, but still Jews, nonetheless.

        [I]t is totally not true that Mitt Romney strapped Paul Ryan to the top of a car and drove him to Canada. Stop spreading rumors! -- Gail Collins

        by mbayrob on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 04:20:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, Christianity prioritizes forgiveness (0+ / 0-)

          and screwing up is expected, so I don't know where you got the idea that Christians are excluded for their sins. Also, Christians aren't an ethnic group. Belonging is contingent on belief. If a Christian makes a mistake, like-minded believers may pray for that person, but not cast them out.

          I never liked you and I always will.

          by Ray Blake on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 04:52:45 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Christians drowned pagans in their baptisms (2+ / 0-)
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            CherryTheTart, Deward Hastings

            And no, I'm aware that Christianity is a community of faith, and not an ethnicity.

            But if you're going with the statement above, you are ignoring the history of your co-religionists.  Christianity, historically, is an intolerant, murderous cult that killed many of my kin, and went to war with the community of Islam and murdered huge numbers of Muslims.  Then, a couple of hundred years later, when they weren't killing Jews, Protestants killed Catholics and visa versa.

            Your faith community may talk about forgiveness, but for a religion of peace, the history of Christian civilization is a history of war and of murder.  You don't cast people out.  You kill them.  And in huge numbers.

            I'm with Gandhi on this one.  I'm fine with Christ.  It's Christianity and Christians that are the problem.

            [I]t is totally not true that Mitt Romney strapped Paul Ryan to the top of a car and drove him to Canada. Stop spreading rumors! -- Gail Collins

            by mbayrob on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 10:21:02 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  You're right, the NT is barbaric, too. n/t (8+ / 0-)
      •  Both are terrible. (8+ / 0-)

        I don't discriminate when it comes to bashing that particular work of fiction.

    •  Amen. n/t (4+ / 0-)
    •  Jew read their scripture and discuss their faults (3+ / 0-)
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      Kane in CA, TiaRachel, leftymama

      Christians such as your self read their scripture, and discuss the faults of the Jews.  Since Christians are, apparently, forgiven because they accept some carpenter from the ancient Galilee as a deity.

      I've found even some people that define themselves as atheists or non-believers talk about religion from a basically Christian frame, and when they discuss their former religion, they still use what are basically anti-Jewish terms to discuss religion, rather than anti-Christian ones.  Because, apparently, the main problem with Christians is that they were too Jewish, I guess.

      Which are you, exactly?

      [I]t is totally not true that Mitt Romney strapped Paul Ryan to the top of a car and drove him to Canada. Stop spreading rumors! -- Gail Collins

      by mbayrob on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 04:16:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's absurd. Christians believe in (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sandbox, gustynpip, kingfishstew, millwood

        The Old Testament/Torah and don't see fault in it. Quite the contrary. The people who find fault with the OT are critics of Christianity, since the most often cited scriptures against gays and abortion are from the OT. Fundamentalists love Torah.

        I never liked you and I always will.

        by Ray Blake on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 04:56:04 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not Torah. The OT. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          leftymama, CroneWit, millwood

          The christian "old testament" isn't the same as the jewish Torah, even if you exclude all the other writings that jews understand to be integral to an understanding of the Tanakh.

        •  Fundamentalists love Torah? (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Diamond Mind, sfbob, CroneWit, NJ Dem

          Not the ones I criticize! Not the conservative religious right!

          Torah teaches you that taxing the haves to support the have-nots is mandatory for the haves and an entitlement for the have-nots.  (in the literal sense of "entitlement", meaning something you're entitled to).

          Torah teaches that you may not hurt the feelings of a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.

          Torah teaches that you may favor neither the rich nor poor at court.

          Torah teaches that you may not lie or slander.

          Torah teaches that you are obligated to be guardian of the earth.

          I don't see how anybody can quote Torah and support Republicans.  You'd have to twist logic like a pretzel to do so.

          There are no scriptures against abortion.  I'm not sure what you had in mind.  The one passage about hurting a fetus makes it clear that it's not punished the same as murder (it's not an abortion, but an assault resulting in a miscarriage).  And rabbis rule that abortion is not just allowed but required if there is a threat to the mother.

          The scriptures against homosexuality are very narrow, much narrower than anything in the NT.  It's not the orientation that's forbidden, but one particular sex act only, and only for Jews.  As written, it doesn't restrict Gentiles any more than the rule against eating shrimp (an "abomination") does.  It's the NT that broadens the prohibition.

          So I don't accept that anti-gay, anti-abortion, and misogyny in general are founded in OT, much less exclusive to OT.

          •  God has different morality for Jews (0+ / 0-)

            and Christians, despite the fact they're both human?  Wow.  Weird God.

            Romney/Caligula 2012!

            by sujigu on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 07:37:30 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I was just saying what the actual OT text says (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              CroneWit

              Not that I agree that there should be such different standards. Most Reform Jews would say that this prohibition doesn't apply to homosexuality as understood in modern times, whether for Jew or Gentile.

              But in other diaries here, I have heard it argued, for instance that circumstances can alter cases.  For instance that it was right to punish a military officer (like General Petraeus) more severely for adultery than a civilian. Now soldiers and civilians are both humans, and yet people, including several here on DailyKos, argue that there's a rational basis for there being a different morality.

              The Jewish Bible does have cases of different standards.  Priests can't marry divorcees, while non-priests can, for example.  Other cases are ceremonial or symbolic.  Jews, for example, are required to be circumcised, while (according to Jewish law), Gentiles are not.  That's because allegedly Jews are memorializing a covenant that we've agreed to be bound to and Gentiles have not.

            •  No, not a different morality (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              NJ Dem

              I'm going to give a somewhat serious answer to what was a scoffing kind of comment.  But I do so in good company.

              Judaism sees there being a single deity and a single morality (which the rabbis held could be derived from reason and common sense).  They did believe that the Jews had specific customs and obligations that were specific to themselves, but if you were of a different people, you were under no obligation to follow these specific customs.

              The core idea was summed up by the medieval genius Moshe Ben Maimon (aka Maimonides), who said that the righteous of all nations have portion in the world to come.  You don't need to be a Jew or follow Judaism to be on the side of the deity; anyone who is b'irat Shamaim -- "in awe of Heaven" -- is considered a holy person, whatever their belief system is, or whatever ethnicity they might be.

              [I]t is totally not true that Mitt Romney strapped Paul Ryan to the top of a car and drove him to Canada. Stop spreading rumors! -- Gail Collins

              by mbayrob on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 10:47:08 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Leviticus 20:13 (0+ / 0-)

            "If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads."

            As I said, fundies cherry-pick Torah for their own ends. The commandment against killing is the basis for their stand against abortion. BTW, I went to biblegateway.com, a Christian site, to browse Leviticus. There was a prominent pro-Israel banner ad and petition. Check it out here. Quote:

            I am a God-fearing American, and I am publicly and officially recognizing Jerusalem -- the entire, undivided Holy City -- as the capital of Israel. This position has been a settled matter of US law since 1995, yet our government continues to refuse to follow the parameters of the Jerusalem Embassy Act.

            Even more importantly, the status of Jerusalem as Israel's capital is settled by Almighty God. Thousands of years before there was a Washington DC, there was Jerusalem DC -- David's Capital. Before there was a United Nations trying to determine Jerusalem's status, there were pagan nations that attempted to conquer and destroy the Holy City.

            Scripture teaches that every nation and empire that stretched its hand against Jerusalem has crumbed to dust. God set His name in Jerusalem for the Jewish people, and that can never be revoked or changed.

            While there are many complex issues to be resolved in the Middle East, the status of Jerusalem is not subject to negotiation. I declare my support and recognition of Jerusalem as the undivided and eternal capital of Israel. I pledge to pray for Israel and leaders of this country as they carry out the responsibilities of the office in which God has placed them. May we be obedient to God's unchanging Word.

            I never liked you and I always will.

            by Ray Blake on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 10:56:57 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  There's a similar law for lighting fire on Sabbath (0+ / 0-)

              The penalty for violating the Sabbath laws, you will note, is also death.

              A lot of us have problems with the treatment of gay sex in Leviticus.  It's not clear what the section meant originally, especially since in Canaanite culture (and in early Semitic religion generally) there appears to have been a concept of ritual sex and temple prostitutes, some of whom were likely male.

              But interpretation counts for a lot, and at least by rabbinical times, it appears that none of these kinds of infractions were enforced:  there were requirements for witness that would in and of themselves that made sure that the private sex life of two men would not be a problem, unless they invited in at least two judges to join in and observe the festivities.

              Which is part of your problem here.  The document that comes down to you came into its final form well after a tradition for how to read these texts had been evolving for hundreds of years.  This includes the prophetic texts (in the sense of Hebrew nevi'ut, and not in the sense of Classical Greek prophecy), and the traditions that would become the Mishnah and later the Gemarah.  These are traditions that are largely not shared with the Christians.  Even the Prophetic writings, which are of more interest to Christians as proof-texts of Christianity-to-Come than as the stand-alone social criticism that make up a lot of those texts.
              0

              [I]t is totally not true that Mitt Romney strapped Paul Ryan to the top of a car and drove him to Canada. Stop spreading rumors! -- Gail Collins

              by mbayrob on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 12:38:38 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Christians have no idea how these texts (0+ / 0-)

                are read and understood by Jews (among whom there are also disagreements). You should also know that I'm not a practicing Christian and have made no criticism of the "Old Testament". I don't see it as wicked or barbaric or any such thing. It is quite a bit different from the New Testament, which is understandable given the circumstances and the distance of something like 1500 years. I'm more interested in it because of the character of Yeshu the Nazarene and why he still has such a hold on people 2000 years after his death.

                I never liked you and I always will.

                by Ray Blake on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 12:58:52 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  The Gospels are quite vivid (0+ / 0-)

                  I've heard people suggest that Jesus never lived and is mythical, but having read portions of the Gospels, I seriously doubt that.  You very much get the sense of a person behind the documents.  A great teacher, and definitely a character, in the good sense.

                  How the human Jesus got transfigured into a Hellenistic-styled deity with Christianity's rather strange theology is a different question entirely.  But this happening in the century after his death, he bears no responsibility for that.

                  [I]t is totally not true that Mitt Romney strapped Paul Ryan to the top of a car and drove him to Canada. Stop spreading rumors! -- Gail Collins

                  by mbayrob on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 01:54:57 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  The Trinity is surely a tortured concept (0+ / 0-)

                    which took three centuries to emerge and get codified. In order for Yeshu to become God he had to be begotten by God first. Therefore, he was the son of God from square one, not a man who became God. I know, pretty shakey. It's enough for me that he was a great prophet of a Jewish sect.

                    I never liked you and I always will.

                    by Ray Blake on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 10:40:22 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

    •  And Righteous Genocide n/t (0+ / 0-)

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