So I’m reading my Bible. Again.

236a6018db3451195f117e4fcf41544cI started after the first of the year. I mean, I never actually stopped reading it, but it was more targeted reads, looking for something specific.

Now? I’m just reading

Though no serious Biblical scholar would do this I started with Gen. 1. I’m up to chapter 40 or so, and I am finding things I don’t remember from back when I was trying to memorize the whole thing as a fundamentalist.

This time, I’m noticing nuances and seeing greater depth in the characters in the stories. I’m not trying to proselytizing, but it would be very cool if you’d read along with me and we could  chat. Just a thought…

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26 responses to “So I’m reading my Bible. Again.

  1. Old Testament?
    Wow.
    Protestant, I assume.

    I was actually hoping to start Property Owning Democracy this year. There’s a chance I can finagle a kindle version.

    I always value your insights, but I might be more engaged when you get to Christmas.

    Well see………..

    • I get it. You’ve read it already and know it better than most pew-sitters. But it’s been a really interesting exercise (for me) and when I talk about it with my Culturally Catholic husband, he just looks nervous, like I’m about to spring forth from Tammy Faye Bakker’s head. In his mind, that was the only Protestant he actually knew for years and years and he’s worried I’m the next one. I’m not. She was actually a committed Christian and I just like arguing.

      • Four times! If you count the Catholic version I read when I was being prepped by the Irish Brothers and Sisters of Mercy for the seminary. I normally don’t count that first time.

        The more I think about it, the more interesting I think it would be to read your updated insights…especially on the Old Testament.

        And if I was actually going to take on some scripture, I’m thinking I should probably read the Qur’an. I understand there’s some excellent english translations out there now. And online resources for understanding context.

        Most of my comrades in our little corner of the American political sphere are busy reexamining Marx, Lenin and Trotsky. They cannot imagine why I would want to explore the radical side of Rawls. They’re too busy trying to get prepped for The Capitalist Apocalypse. Fundamentalism in our sphere can be as inhibiting to progress as it can be in yours.

        I look forward to you posting on your experience and insights.

        • The Qur’an would be fabulous to read. That’s next on my list…or maybe I should read them concurrently. I am looking at my copy of the text as I type this (which means I’m a fabulous typist, not havign having to look).

  2. what version are you reading ? It is fascinating to me they are all different (exactly which one is Gods word? Is always a good discussion -hmm let me think about this !

    • They ARE all different. I grew up reading the New International Version and (of course) the King James’. Now I’m reading the Revised Standard. It’s what I used during my time at Hartford Seminary and it’s clear, concise, and has great footnotes. Which one is God’s word? God knows…

  3. Ok. I will read along. I cannot promise to keep up or to stick with it all the way through. I’ve never read the entire Bible. I will try to look past the frequent omission of women and my desire to change “Him” to “Her”, or better yet “They”, when referring to God. However, I will start. You got me to consider it and something else convinced me. So, “In the beginning…”

  4. I’ve only read about 12-13 chapters in Genesis so far. I am keeping notes for later discussion and questions. However, there is something that I’d like to ask right off the bat because I can’t stop wondering about it as it relates to gender and gender equality. In Genesis 1:26-27, it says:

    26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”
    27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

    Two things:
    In 26 – God refers to a plural God, no – Let US, in OUR image, after OUR likeness.
    In 27 – It sounds like God created man(kind) in his image, including both male and female mankind.

    In a sense, it sounds very much like God put men and women as equals with God – all in the same image, and as if God is plural: both male and female, too.

    Genesis 2-4 retells the story and it sounds completely different to me, with a hierarchy of gender described and the inception of sin in the female. It infers the male is closest to God.

    Genesis 5 matches to 1, And then 6 to 2-4. In Ch 6, it refers to men as “sons of God” and women as “daughters of men”.

    Does anyone else see two versions of God and two versions of gender equality/inequality in these early chapters?

    • I suppose it’s a bit early in human development to assume the “royal” third person pronoun was being employed…

      So…it’s either God was speaking to the angels and the Earth, or He was speaking as a representation of the trinitarian Godhead, (Father, Son, Holy Spirit…I believe the Catholics call it “the sublime Concilium”), or both. It’s a mystery. Get ready. It’s a long trip.

      I wouldn’t assume that when God says Man, he’s always speaking about Mankind. Gender hierarchy definitely exists in the Bible. Man was created first, in the image of God, and put to work serving God. Woman was created after because God didn’t want man to be alone in his work. Man needed a helper…among other things. And so Woman was created and put to work serving man. Paul stated it this way in 1 Corinthians 11:7: “[Man] is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of man.”

      I’ve heard the “sons of God” referred to as angels and such…having godly origins. I’ve heard them described as men who recognized and accepted The One God and His role in their creation. Daughters of men, in that context, would be offspring of men who did not hold with such recognition and acceptance. All sorts of hijinks were being acted out before The Flood, by all kinds of critters. (Look! Giants!) God puts a stop to that.

      I don’t think there are two versions of gender hierarchy being put forth. But I don’t think gender “equality/inequality” is being laid out here. Difference? Undoubtedly. But as both genders are the creations of God, albeit employing different resources…raw materials if you will…I think there is actually an inherent equality being expressed. Or as much as the men writing all this could muster. I can see some implication that man is closer to God, or more favorable in His sight. But…again…I think we have to consider who came up with all this and the times in which they existed.

      As for sin…I don’t see it as being vested solely in the woman. Eve succumbs to temptation, as does Adam, and both suffer God’s wrath. Eve (Woman) ends up forever enduring a bad rap for this, especially in Old Testament interpretations originating with, you guessed it, men. So if we look at all this with a modern…progressive…perspective, I think it’s easier to see actual inherent equality…at least at those points you reference. Things get a little more dicey down the road.

      • This is interesting discussion.

        So, if in Genesis 1, when God refers to self in the plural, you’re thinking there is inclusion of angels, possibly? I’ve always thought of angels as risen humans who reside with God, which brings about the chicken or the egg question. If angels existed before Adam & Eve, where did they come from? I suppose the answer suggests, my understanding of angels is off.

        On the sin – It also looked as though Adam didn’t want to accept responsibility (she gave it to me and told me to eat it) for his sin and God didn’t call him on that. That was disappointing.

        I’m ready for dicey! Thanks, leftover.

        • I think down the road a bit..Job and Hebrews…there’s some indication God created angels before man. Also, remember Lucifer, the fallen angel, was already present in The Garden in his fallen form to tempt Eve, which would indicate creation prior to man and woman.

          I agree God didn’t call out Adam for trying to pass the buck. But the consequence was shared (original sin). Still a good point to keep in mind, though.

  5. I always thought that man created God in his own image, and is still doing so. Example: “God hates fags” – from our good friends at Westboro Baptist.

    • But there were so-called “sons of God” in Genesis who supposedly mated with human women. Isn’t that fascinating? Were they angels? And what did that make their offspring?

      • As that offspring, however you define “sons of God,” became “the heroes of old, men of renown,” that made their offspring an early attempt to make the emergent One God, (monotheism), more palatable to people ensconced in polytheism, probably the Egyptians, their legends and such. (Sure…all these heroes and giants and demigods existed, but they displeased the One God, so he flushed them like a dead goldfish.”)

        You know. Like Christmas/Saturnalia.

        • Equally fascinating (to me, anyway): I just read this morning about the Egyptian burial of Jacob, the patriarch. His body given the royal Egyptian funerary treatment, and nobody squawked. It’s so interesting to think of how this all meshes together, one religion bleeds into another. If I read things correctly, he was given a pretty involved embalming (think “mummy”) as a sign of respect that the Egyptians had for his son, Joseph. Egyptian theology was far afield from what we think of as the (then forming) Hebrew one. And nobody squawked. In fact, they appeared grateful for the honor shown their patriarch.

          • The relationship between the Hebrews and Egyptians didn’t sour until the death of Joseph, who was greatly loved by Pharaoh. Prior to that, the Hebrews there seemed willing to respect Egyptian sociotheological culture. Likely out of respect for Joseph. Those Hebrews who sought solace in Egypt thrived there…for a time. The Egyptians seemed willing to tolerate Hebrew culture, probably because they were making significant contributions to Egyptian culture…especially commerce. And out of the respect for Joseph Pharaoh insisted upon. I think this is why we see some melding of religions..or at least religious practice.

            Before Joseph died, he commanded the Hebrews to return to Canaan. When the new Pharaoh was installed, he became fearful of Hebrew influence and power. So he dispossessed them. Things kind of fell apart after that.

        • That’s a little confusing to me – the “sons of God” (vs men created by God), but I’m wondering what was intended. Were the sons of God a part of God or separate? Maybe that gets back to defining angels, too. Also, did the Son of God (Jesus) come from the sons of God or was the Son of God, God? I wonder because of the same wording. I’m hoping for clarity as I get further into this. I am the least educated on this of the group.

          • I would advise against getting too caught up in the minutiae. It’s interesting, but can distract from larger themes. (In Genesis, for example, larger themes would be Creation, Selection, and Deliverance.) Inconsistencies between one version of a story and others contained in the same scripture is something that is inherent in The Bible.

            We’re dealing with interpretations of translations of ancient texts originating in very complex languages. Often done by people with particular agendas. After thousands of years, there still remains distinct differences among us on those translations and interpretations.

            This coming from someone who doesn’t consider The Bible to be inerrant or divinely inspired in any way. So there’s that.

            • But it’s the minutiae that is so fascinating to me. I don’t even know why I’m enjoying this as much as I am, but occasionally there’ll be a verse and I’ll think, “How’d I miss that?” I do not recommend this as a way of seriously studying the Bible.

            • The gender inequity (so far) also stands out as an assumption, rather than as an intentional theme. It is not really surprising. It does strengthen my belief that it was not divinely inspired and instead was written by men.

              Fists balled up by this but must. press. on.

  6. That would sound really great. I will have to put that on my agenda.

  7. Nick Annis’s poem, read by Chuck Brodsky:

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