As a kid I was more into DC superheroes than British war comics, but you couldn't ignore their existence, sitting on prominent display at the newsagent. Square-jawed heroes of the RAF versus cruel guys in Nazi uniforms who said "Achtung" an awful lot. Goodies against baddies, with a world view as black and white as the pulp pages inside the covers.
It wasn't that Superman or Batman didn't deal with a simple breakdown of good and evil either, but they were clearly fictional characters, not the seemingly realistic types that bled as they lobbed grenades into Panzer tanks. World War II was still as close as my dad's memories of the North African campaign and German POW camps.
The so-called historical books of the Hebrew Bible share some of the same characteristics as those 1960s issues of Commando. There is no room in either for independent judgement or ethical concerns. It's them and us, and we're the righteous ones. No room for doubt, just shut up, salute, and get on with the derring-do.
But the world has changed, thank God. We encourage a new generation to ask questions, challenge unjust authority and engage in critical thinking. In a multi-cultural world we can no longer rest content with cardboard cut-out stereotypes. It's no longer acceptable to do a bad Peter Sellers Indian accent when your kids go to school with Indian kids who, it turns out, aren't all that different after all (and speak perfect English).
So what do we do with the horrific narratives that adorn the Old Testament. The ones that portray Canaanites and Philistines as barely human and subject to God-sanctioned genocide? These tales are not on the fringe of Heilsgeschichte, but close to the central core.
And, to ask an uncomfortable question, how influential are these biblical "boy's own" stories in warping our understanding of current conflicts in the Middle East vis-a-vis the Israelis and Palestinians?
There are times I wonder if Marcion had it right.
Proponents of Bronze Age Olde Testament theology don't seem to realize that the New Testament was a decided change from warring tribes striving for ascendancy and that somewhere Jesus said that the Kingdom was not of this world; but here we are, Olde Testament Christians are attempting to make the Kingdom of this world, replete with the physical ritual which was supposed to be supplanted by the spiritual.ReplyDelete
It's simpler to follow the Bronze Age religion because it fits in so well with human nature, particularly among those who have inherited the anger gene and warrior genes, constantly having an axe to grind, rather than find peace in redemption and salvation with an entirely new basis.
Well then, those things, as the Apostle Paul said, were written for our example, to see what happens when you practice what the ancient Israelites practiced. You get the works of the flesh. Wars. Bloodshed. Fighting. Chaos. Divisions. Leaders striving for ascendancy. Empty declarations of ascendancy.
It looks a lot like the 700+ club of splinters. Are they even civilized?
They've certainly shown that they are true to their origins.
Marcion probably had it more right than those who won.ReplyDelete
Surely you are not comparing the prejudices of the British Empire with the divine revelation of the OT? The English's prejudices and bias reporting of history, can be understood, and has not relevance to the teachings of the OT.ReplyDelete
The OT is as valid today as it was when is was first written, provided, of course, we understand its spiritual meaning. For Jesus stated: "Not one got or tittle shall any wise pass from the law until be fulfilled." So the idea that the OT should be discarded as a document advocating
vicious brutality against the heathen is not what Jesus taught.
Yes Tom, I am comparing. The texts pretty much speak for themselves.Delete
"The OT is as valid today as it was when is was first written". For the first time ever, I agree with Tom! The OT is as valid now as it was then! And How valid is THAT? It was worth buffalo chips then and it still is today!Delete
Man, you couldn't make this stuff up! Come on, Tom, pitch us some more softballs!
P.S. - in respect to the "comic book" theme, note my liberal use of commas! I, too, was a comic book fan in my youth - but that was the 1960's, and my favorite brand was Marvel! Good was good, evil was evil, there was nothing in between and you could easily tell the difference. Ah, simpler times!
The letters of Paul were totally unknown to the orthodoxy of the day until Marcion presented them in the late second century in defense of his own docetist beliefs. The fact that the "orthodox" church later came up with Paul's letters that appeared to agree with the orthodoxy of Rome proves only that there was some editing done to Paul's letters by the orthodox church. Which means that we have no idea what they originally said, because, well, Marcion's copies were destroyed. If you guessed that there was dishonesty and obscuration going on, you'd be right - IMHO.ReplyDelete
>The letters of Paul were totally unknown to the orthodoxy of the day until Marcion presented them in the late second century in defense of his own docetist beliefs.<Delete
This is simply not true. The epistles of Paul were sent the all the churches as they were written. Please note what Peter wrote thus:"Even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him has written unto you; As also in ALL his epistles, speaking in them of these things...(2 Peter 3:16).
So the idea that Marcion was responsible for bringing the epistles of Paul to world's attention, is pure fiction!
Actually Peter didn't write that. 2 Peter is pseudonymous.Delete
As you were not alive when it was written, whose opinion are you quoting?Delete
But does it make a difference whether you read the OT texts as God's words or as human words that may carry divine messages despite or even in their humanness? I used to enjoy the war comics (even though, or because, my parents tried to ban them, because my dad too remembered North Africa and Anzio) but I don't think they have either made me Germanophobe, or noticeably more prejudiced in other ways, I hope they may even have given me some ideals of courage and faithfulness to colleagues/friends/family that are worth retaining...ReplyDelete
cynicism is running rampant on Otagosh...ReplyDelete
Regarding the Canaanites: It is a harsh statement but God rules over death just as he rules over life. We are all mortal and we will all die. God could keep us alive in our mortal condition ad infinitum if he wished but he is going to cause us to die. Death is his responsibility. In the bible, sometimes people were directly killed by God. In other cases, people were killed by one of God's "authorized agents." In any event, the audit trail ultimately runs back to God. Knowing that it is God's determination doesn't make it any more pleasant.ReplyDelete
The relevant Canaanites were going to die in any event. Some of natural causes, some in warfare, some of disease. God commanded the Israelites to extinguish them. This is a difference in instrumentality not a difference in outcome. Their nation was a center for idolatrous worship, including child sacrifice, in the region. But I don't know if they were any worse than other nations at that time. The salient issue is that God, instead of killing the Canaanites himself, required this of the Israelites. He brought Israel into the palestine and then required that they exterminate their idolatrous, wicked predecessors. The vivid, hands-on object lesson to the Israelites is that some behaviors will get you killed - by God.
I believe in Future Probation as formulated by theologian Joseph Leckie and I believe this event has to be seen in that context. This, however, is not a popular view in Christianity and I will not go further with it. Nor do I intend this to be a statement about whether men can decide to kill other men. Nor do I intend to have this statement in any way mitigate the sorrow of death. Christ wept over Lazarus.
"God, instead of killing the Canaanites himself, required this of the Israelites".Delete
We know this is true because a book written by the Israelites says so.
The book "written by the Israelites" says that the Israelites were disobedient to God and did not kill all the Canaanites. In fact, Solomon married a bunch of their women.Delete
OK, to be more specific: the book was written by Israelite PRIESTS. The Priests wrote these stories to show the people that they'd better obey God (i.e., obey the Priests). If you don't, you might be killed like the Canaanites. Or taken into captivity like the disobedient Israelites. Of course, how could the illiterate people of that day know if these stories had really happened in their past? They had only the priests' word for it.Delete
Still, it's notable how many did NOT believe the priests, and just went about their daily lives (not tithing, worshipping the Goddess, etc.) Illiterate and ignorant bronze-age people though they may have been, they knew a made-up story when they saw one. Amazingly, many literate and knowledable computer-age people seem unable to make the same determination.
Consider honestly. Which is more likely:Delete
(1) The same God who told all the Israelites "thou shalt not kill" also told the Israelite army "slay all the men, older women and children but you can keep the young women for yourselves".
(2) these two verses were not God's words at all, but were written by two different people in two different situations with two very different agendas.
I know which answer I think is more likely.
This suggests a new incarnation of graphic novels: British Israelism comics, which can have modern technology employed as warring factions of CoGs dive bomb one another with strafing fire, lobbing bombs on one another. How glorious it would be! It could be exciting!ReplyDelete
There are some drawbacks, of course. The comics in question above were simplified showing battles of good vs evil, clearly delineated leaving the "good" to win, perhaps bloody, but unbowed. The British Israelism comics could have no such protagonists being that it is all evil, leaving the reader no clear options to root for.
British Israelism comics would also have a soap opera component to them where there would be constant bed hopping and sexual liasons of various sorts with powerful personalities dominating -- sort of a cult version of Dallas, if you will.
You could be sure too that there would be that Science Fiction / Mysticism component to it as well as the carnage and horrors mounted in the bloody battles waged on both sides with no clear winners and powerful factions changing sides randomly vying for advantage, even as it is in reality today.
I want movie rights.
I did decide to go forward a bit with the topic of future probation. There is an excellent paper on this concept by Albert Hudson at www.heraldmag.org/bookstore/booklet_futureprobation.htm. A Mormon friend first made me aware of the somewhat similar LDS understanding several years ago, and it makes much more sense than traditional Christian teachings on this, or universal salvation towards which I used to lean.ReplyDelete
It is well worth the time it will require to read.
You need to be more soul-searching in your attempts to understand the Torah. It would do you good to go to our sages for information and stay away from gentile authors who know nothing but superficial translations of a language that cannot be translated - for all languages were created by man - except for Hebrew - which G-d created.ReplyDelete
God created Hebrew? Oh yeah, right, that makes sense.... One suspects you're not so much in the vanguard as in the caboose.ReplyDelete