Eating the Apple

Eve did it. Adam did it. Now it's my turn to take a bite. Why not? Hey! It's delicious.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Confession

I hereby freely confess to you that I am an atheist with an unusual hobby. I am an Old Testament 'junkie'. I do not regard the Old Testament as 'The Word' of any god. Instead I see it as the product of many priests and prophets who told stories about their history, culture, values, and feelings. These writings were compiled by a 'redactor' and reshaped by scribes and copyists who sometimes spun the narrative to fit their ideologies.

I also confess that I am embarrassed to use the term 'The Bible'. There no one single monolithic entity characterized by that term. I much prefer to use the word 'Scriptures' because the plural implies variety. I study some English translations of the Masoretic (Hebrew) text. When I study a certain passage, I compare the passage in the KJV, NSRV, NIV, and JPS translations and examine commentary in study bibles. (The first verse of Deuteronomy is strikingly different in these translations.)

The Masoretic text not the only ancient version of the Scriptures. The Septuagint (Greek) translation from about 250 BC contains several books that are not now considered canonical by some Chrtistians and Jews. The Dead Sea Scrolls are the oldest biblical manuscripts in existance. They have influenced the NSRV translation (example: Deut 32:8,43). There are many other ancient versions of the Scriptures, such as the Syriac and Samaritan versions. All of these are used by scholars in their studies.

In addition I confess that I am embarrassed to use terms like 'Old' and 'New Testament'. These terms may be demeaning to Jews, It suggests that their holy books are old-fashioned and therefore inferior. I could use the term 'Tanakh', but most people won't understand it. I do not know of any good, neutral terminology to use here. It is said that turn-about is fair play. So I shall use the terms 'Primary Scriptures' and 'Secondary Scriptures'.

Finally, I confess that I have limited knowledge of the Scriptures. I am more student than scholar. And I am struggling to unravel the mysteries of the Scriptures, to separate the strands of thought, and to identify the mythology within and about the texts. I am fascinated and challenged by the Scriptures, not because they are easy to understand, but because they are difficult.

The next time I return to this topic I shall compare Genesis 25:1-2 with 1 Chronicles 1:32.

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