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Source: (consider it) Thread: rejecting the OT
keibat
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Admitting up front that I have skimmed this thread rather than reading it meticulously, I haven't noticed anyone making the crucial point that the OT isn't 'a book', it's a collection of texts – an anthology, actually, created and edited and copied and selected over a very long time (measured in centuries), some of them having been passed down for centuries in oral tradition before being written down, others first composed as written texts; narrative history, prophecy, poetry, straightforward fiction, somewhat tedious aphorisms ... And the NT too, for that matter, is also an anthology, written down over most of a century by authors in significantly different situations and for significantly different purposes... So having a blanket evaluation of either the NT or the OT (with which I bundle-in the Apocrypha) really doesn't make good sense.

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keibat from the finnish north and the lincs east rim

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Ricardus
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quote:
Originally posted by Leorning Cniht:
quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
My point is that if a text has a 'true meaning', then the people who get to decide what that 'true meaning' is are the people who actually use it.

This can't possibly be true. If a text has a "true meaning" then that meaning is objective fact. It exists - nobody gets to "decide" what it is. What the users of the text get to do is try to determine what the true meaning is.

It's like measuring some physical constant - the speed of light, say. You can measure the speed of light, by various different means, and depending on what you do, you'll get a number which is closer or further away from the true value.

That's what happens when you try to apply the scientific method to literary criticism. (And is also why physics is much less susceptible to bullshit than literary criticism.)

The big question over which literary critics have indulged in much mutual masturbation is whether 'true reading' is a valid concept.

To my mind, an 'objective' meaning only has practical value if it can be discerned in an objective manner (like measuring the speed of light). An objective meaning that can't be discerned is functionally equivalent to no objective meaning. So if we insist on the existence of an objective meaning, how are we going to discern it?

1.) If we are believers we might think that the objective meaning is in the Mind of God, and that those of us who are particularly holy, or favoured in the predestination sweepstake, will get a glimpse of that meaning. But that sort of argument will cut no ice with atheists or agnostics.

2.) We could also say that the objective meaning is what the original author intended. But there's no way of discerning that at this distance, and besides the whole concept of 'original author' is problematic when applied to the OT.

(Also it isn't really how we act in other circumstances. If I say something monumentally offensive out of ignorance, the fact that I didn't mean it doesn't make it not offensive.)

3.) The only thing that can be objectively measured - to my mind - is the effect the text has on the people who read it. If the primary users of the text react to it in one way, then that is a thing we can measure to determine the meaning of the text.

AIUI, (3) is more or less how the Jews themselves view the Torah. The Torah is not in Heaven, and therefore it is up to the Jews themselves to determine what it means. I have posted elsewhere the story in the Talmud where a voice from Heaven tries to intervene in a rabbinic dispute, and receives the response that since the Torah is not in Heaven, the voice from Heaven is inadmissible as evidence.

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Then the dog ran before, and coming as if he had brought the news, shewed his joy by his fawning and wagging his tail. -- Tobit 11:9 (Douai-Rheims)

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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
The big question over which literary critics have indulged in much mutual masturbation is whether 'true reading' is a valid concept.

But the Bible isn't just a piece of literature - it's a book about God. And as such, discussing whether it correctly describes God or not is a perfectly valid and coherent thing to do.

quote:

1.) If we are believers we might think that the objective meaning is in the Mind of God,

Well, yes. The Bible is a book about God. The objective truth is God Himself.

quote:

and that those of us who are particularly holy, or favoured in the predestination sweepstake, will get a glimpse of that meaning.

This doesn't follow. It might be true, but it doesn't have to be true.

quote:

2.) We could also say that the objective meaning is what the original author intended.

Why would we say that? Think of the Bible as a biography. The objective truth is what actually happened to the person, and why he did what he did.

What the biographer thought the person was thinking is certainly what the biographer intended to convey when he wrote the text, but it's not the objective truth.

quote:

3.) The only thing that can be objectively measured - to my mind - is the effect the text has on the people who read it. If the primary users of the text react to it in one way, then that is a thing we can measure to determine the meaning of the text.

But "the meaning of the text" is not some kind of abstract rules-lawyering game. "The meaning of the text" is God. That's where it's pointing, and He is the truth beneath it.
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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Adeodatus:
I never found a way of looking at the OT - or much of the NT for that matter - that didn't ultimately include an element of what I wanted it to say. I'm really not being judgemental when I say that I don't think I ever met anyone else for whom that wasn't true, either.

OK, so here is my take. One should look at the ultimate end for one's holy book. In Christianity, it is Jesus. So if one looks at Jesus' overall message, one can then view through this lens. It doesn't rid all problems, of course, but Jesus' 'greatest commandment is Love. Anything that doesn't jibe with love should be subject to greater scrutiny.

quote:
but the text still says God killed a load of Egyptians, and ultimately there's no way round that.

If you view the bible as a mix of myth, history, apologetics and instruction, I think it makes much more sense.

As keibat notes:
quote:
Originally posted by keibat:
Admitting up front that I have skimmed this thread rather than reading it meticulously, I haven't noticed anyone making the crucial point that the OT isn't 'a book', it's a collection of texts – an anthology, actually, created and edited and copied and selected over a very long time (measured in centuries), some of them having been passed down for centuries in oral tradition before being written down, others first composed as written texts; narrative history, prophecy, poetry, straightforward fiction, somewhat tedious aphorisms ... And the NT too, for that matter, is also an anthology, written down over most of a century by authors in significantly different situations and for significantly different purposes... So having a blanket evaluation of either the NT or the OT (with which I bundle-in the Apocrypha) really doesn't make good sense.



--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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wabale
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Old Testament warfare is a problem, and has always been one for me since I became a Christian. There have been one or two relatively peaceful cultures in the past, but they are the exception. Many of us belong to nations that have felt it necessary to kill innocent civilians, men, women and children, in large numbers, as a deliberate act of war - Hiroshima and Dresden come to mind - with very few objections at the time. In the United Kingdom most of us today seem content with a policy of deterence that depends on our willingness to use weapons of mass destruction. Christians seem to be in at least two minds on the matter. I think when we become more willing to face up to our own own potentially murderous nature we will understand better why the children of Israel were told to deal with the Canaanites so ruthlessly. Our problem will still be, I suggest, finding a suitable morally pure mountain from which we can survey the scene.
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hatless

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Like some others here, I think it's important to say that the OT is not a book, and it doesn't tell us directly what God is like or how we should live and think.

The Christian OT is not the same as the Jewish scriptures. They have the Law and the prophets, the Psalms, wisdom, history, each with varying status and purpose. Christians have 39 books (unless they are RC or Orthodox) in a different order, and without any agreed hierarchy, though we read some bits far more often than others.

The OT provides some common ground where we can think and reflect with other Christians and with our traditions. If we do that, as the person in referred to in the original post clearly does, then we might encounter God. Reading OT books as instructions or approved theology is a mistake.

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My crazy theology in novel form

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mousethief

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I'm not sure how taking the exact same set of words, but setting the chunks in a different order, and then emphasizing the chunks differently, makes it an entirely different book.

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God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. --Acts 10:28

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Ricardus
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quote:
Originally posted by Leorning Cniht:
But the Bible isn't just a piece of literature - it's a book about God. And as such, discussing whether it correctly describes God or not is a perfectly valid and coherent thing to do.

Sure. But 'What is the meaning of this text?' is a different question from 'Does the meaning of this text accurately describe reality?'.

Take the riddle of the man going to St Ives. As it stands, it's ambiguous whether it means St Ives Cornwall or St Ives Cambridgeshire. If we find out from some external source that it's the Cornish one, that doesn't make 'Cornwall' part of the meaning of the text (it can't do - we didn't learn about it from the text but from elsewhere). And if we find out he was actually going to Plymouth, that doesn't imply that St Ives means Plymouth.

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Then the dog ran before, and coming as if he had brought the news, shewed his joy by his fawning and wagging his tail. -- Tobit 11:9 (Douai-Rheims)

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lilBuddha
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Your riddle example is both too simple and a poor analogy.
Context is a massive part of reading the Bible. It is incredibly naive and/or arrogant to claim otherwise.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
Sure. But 'What is the meaning of this text?' is a different question from 'Does the meaning of this text accurately describe reality?'

Well, OK.

In which case I would argue that "what is the meaning of this text?" is the wrong question. Because the reason to care about the text is that it's pointing us at God.

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mr cheesy
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But but but...

Jewish theology has developed in many ways over thousands of years. I can't see how it can possibly be true that Jews are somehow able to see the "authentic" message of the OT in a way that Christians are not just because they are Jews.

It might be true that there is some deep significance and message from particular bible passages that are hidden within a particular context. But Jews - as a whole - are no closer to that context than Christians.

It seems to me that the project to unearth the "real" truth is doomed to failure. Even if there is a truth there at all (ie that the writer actually intended something specific - which I doubt, because myths and stories tend to be developed over a long period by many writers so there is no original author to go back to) then it is impossible for any of us to see it.

The best we can do is hear the different ways that the passages have been interpreted over the years and decide which interpretation makes most sense when laid alongside the other things that we know and believe.

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overheard on a Welsh bus-stop: Jesus don't care about you, he's only interested in your soul

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:

Take the riddle of the man going to St Ives. As it stands, it's ambiguous whether it means St Ives Cornwall or St Ives Cambridgeshire. If we find out from some external source that it's the Cornish one, that doesn't make 'Cornwall' part of the meaning of the text (it can't do - we didn't learn about it from the text but from elsewhere). And if we find out he was actually going to Plymouth, that doesn't imply that St Ives means Plymouth.

OK, but it is entirely possible, is it not, that from the earliest days the poem was applied to St Ives, Cambs as well as St Ives Cornwall. It is even possible that the poem was actually written about somewhere else but that two independent travellers misheard it as referring to St Ives and one thought it was Cornwall and another thought it was the one in Huntingdonshire.

It is even possible that it was some kind of clever code which was used to pass a message between Cornwall and East Anglia - so that the ambiguity was deliberate.

What if one was able to somehow go back in time to find the author (if there was even a person who wrote it) and it turned out that he was not only well-travelled but was also a notorious drunk? That it turns out he couldn't even remember which St Ives he was talking about?

It sounds straightforward to state that there must be a "correct" answer as to which St Ives is being referred to, but there are a range of possibilities that either suggest there was always a whole load of ambiguity (deliberate or otherwise) or that it was never really known.

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overheard on a Welsh bus-stop: Jesus don't care about you, he's only interested in your soul

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Martin60
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Mr c., spot on on Jewish theology, it's hardly any more valid, to say the most, than Jesus'.

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Love wins

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simontoad
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sorry, too much reading I didn't get through it all. I only got up to Mr Cheesy's first response and then not all of that, as I reacted to the idea that the OT has one version of God in it.

The idea of reading the OT as a source for moral conduct baffles me. Did we really used to do that? I can understand cynically picking bits out to get other people to do what we want, but who would have done that with any sincerity? Only the deluded and the ignorant, remembering that the cynically manipulative is the most numerous in the group.

I like the OT because far from presenting a unified picture of God, it presents a fragmented, partial glimpse of God seen from a range of perspectives. I'm not sure where textual criticism is at on the Deuteronomic History, as it has been at least a decade since I took that marvelous journey around the Yahwist and his mates, but that is a journey everyone who wants to oust the OT should take. It will open your eyes on just what we are looking at.

gotta run, comment again later, much more to say, thanks for posing the issue Cheesy.

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The opinions expressed above are transitory emotional responses and do not necessarily reflect the considered views of the author.

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
True, I guess I was trying to offer a way to see value in these myths outside of the surface disgusting layer.

More disgusting than the Iliad or King Lear?
Most myths seem to me to be problematic from an ethical point of view on the surface. I'm not sure if surface is the right metaphor here: by 'surface' I suppose you mean if you view them as a report of merely one more of the damn things that comes after another.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
This is true, but the particular case we're talking about is whether one can ascertain something about an ancient religious text based on the way that (unidentified) members of that religion interact with it.

It seems that we've actually got a fairly unique situation here in that we have various religious groups who look at the same texts and interpret them in fundamentally different ways. It therefore seems to me to be a category error to claim that one can make judgments about the ancient text based on behaviours of one of the groups who interact with it.

It's difficult to ascertain anything about a religious text without interacting with it.
To read the religious text is to interact with it; to say you understand the meaning of the text is to say that you can understand the text based on the way you interact with it. You might be wrong. An individual may be exposed to some sources of error less than a community and tradition of interpretation, but will be exposed to other sources of error more.

The significance of raising Judaism here was I believe to treat the OT in isolation from the New Testament.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
I'm not sure how taking the exact same set of words, but setting the chunks in a different order, and then emphasizing the chunks differently, makes it an entirely different book.

It depends on how much stress you put upon 'entirely'. It's not 'entirely' different.
Clearly you can get an entirely different meaning if you rearrange words within a sentence. You can get a less different meaning by rearranging sentences within paragraphs. You can alter the significance of a narrative by deciding which bits to tell as flashbacks. (An extreme case: Memento would be an entirely different film if told in the order the events happen.)

Still it's different. For example, Ruth in the Old Testament is there as part of the story leading to the kingship of David. If you put it in the writings at the end it's more of a stand-alone parable.
As a whole, the Old Testament arrangement emphasises the narrative aspect more and ends up with a group of books that seem to be looking forward to a Messianic future. The Jewish arrangement plays down the narrative movement.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by Leorning Cniht:
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
I think the point here is that the people who use the text are the ones who are most dedicated to discovering the true meaning of the text. Sceptics from outside have perhaps less access or involvement.

I wouldn't disagree with that, but that's a long way away from Ricardus's claim that the principal users of a text define what it means.
He didn't use the word 'define'. I think you're risking tilting at a windmill here.

quote:
But ultimately, God exists (we believe). We can read the Bible to try and learn what God is like, and what he wants from us, but we don't get to define God. Even in the instances where the Church (for whatever value of Church) claims infallibility, it's not defining God. It's just saying that God won't let it misunderstand this bit.
It's not always true that the objective meaning of a story is always the same as the objective truth of that story. (The objective meaning of 'Let's take the £350 million pounds a week we give to the EU and spend it on the NHS' is unaffected by the fact that objectively speaking it isn't true.)

People have meant various things by 'meaning' over the years. Roman Jakobsen, a Russian linguist, analysed language use in terms of six aspects: the sender (self-expression), the channel (phatic language, small-talk), the code (definitions, grammatical analysis), the context (referential, factual description and assertion), the message itself (formal structures as in verse), and the receiver (persuasion, command, teaching, moving emotion).
There have been theorists who have referred 'meaning' to most of those aspects. I think it's a rare theorist (maybe Hans-Georg Gadamer, who is more famous for other aspects of his theory), who thinks that the meaning of a text is the objective truth about the context/referential aspect, to the extent that the truth or falsity of how the text represents the subject is unimportant.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
Agreed. Especially protecting young children from them, as one would from Greek or Indian Hindu myths.

I didn't know children were specifically protected from Greek or Hindu myths. I learnt about Greek mythology at primary school. Our teacher came in specifically to teach that subject.

And don't children normally relish rather horrible stories? I got a copy of Grimms' fairy tales from my parents when I was a girl. They obviously didn't read it first, because it has some pretty weird stuff in it. But I found it interesting. It probably aided my imagination.

Today's kids get early access to the internet and can see all sorts of things, and play all sorts of violent games. I find it hard to believe that a children's book of Bible stories is what makes the difference....

But I suspect that the real fear here is of fundamentalist religious indoctrination. To prevent that you'd have to ban parents, not just books of 'myths'.

So when you were ten you were told the meaning of 'galaxy'? Aphrodite's conception? And U/Orion's and his 'sword'?

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Love wins

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Adeodatus
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
True, I guess I was trying to offer a way to see value in these myths outside of the surface disgusting layer.

More disgusting than the Iliad or King Lear?
Oh, much more terrible than either of those. The Iliad and King Lear contain many dreadful words and deeds, but neither work ascribes them to a god whom you must then either love, or burn forever.

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"What is broken, repair with gold."

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Ricardus
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Your riddle example is both too simple and a poor analogy.
Context is a massive part of reading the Bible. It is incredibly naive and/or arrogant to claim otherwise.

[Roll Eyes] Good job I didn't claim otherwise then isn't it!

A. The riddle isn't an analogy of the Bible, it's an illustration of the difference between the meaning of a text and the reality it represents.

B. The whole argument up to now is precisely advocating reading in context - specifically, the context created by the users of a text.

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Ricardus
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quote:
Originally posted by Leorning Cniht:
quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
Sure. But 'What is the meaning of this text?' is a different question from 'Does the meaning of this text accurately describe reality?'

Well, OK.

In which case I would argue that "what is the meaning of this text?" is the wrong question. Because the reason to care about the text is that it's pointing us at God.

Yes, I agree. It's one reason why I'd say that though the Bible is important, it's not the centre of our faith.

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Then the dog ran before, and coming as if he had brought the news, shewed his joy by his fawning and wagging his tail. -- Tobit 11:9 (Douai-Rheims)

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by Adeodatus:
The Iliad and King Lear contain many dreadful words and deeds, but neither work ascribes them to a god whom you must then either love, or burn forever.

The Old Testament, taken on its own, doesn't do so either.
It's hard to reconstruct how Greek worshippers felt about the gods, but Greek religion (even the Iliad some of the time) do speak of them as ethical custodians.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
Yes, I agree. It's one reason why I'd say that though the Bible is important, it's not the centre of our faith.

Jesus, the Word of God, is the centre of your faith.
But the source for Jesus is the Bible. Going to the Bible, and not tradition, is central to the Reformation.
And there are subsects who equate the Bible as the be all and end all, a self-contained and fully explained compendium of everything.
Saying the Bible is not the whole, I get. But shoving from the centre I don't.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
More disgusting than the Iliad or King Lear?

If one is imbibing the biblical text with spiritual truth in contrast to the Shakespeare text, then yes. A lot more disgusting.

Nobody is forcing anyone to read Shakespeare (personally, I can't see the point), but as we've seen many Christians believe that "engaging" with the OT is an essential part of the thing.

quote:
Most myths seem to me to be problematic from an ethical point of view on the surface. I'm not sure if surface is the right metaphor here: by 'surface' I suppose you mean if you view them as a report of merely one more of the damn things that comes after another.
I'm saying that if one reads them in a similar way to a fairy story, they're pretty foul stories with oblique morality tales. But I think it is possible to dig deeper and get something philosophically interesting from them despite them being about disgusting acts - eg Abraham/Isaac.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
It's not always true that the objective meaning of a story is always the same as the objective truth of that story. (The objective meaning of 'Let's take the £350 million pounds a week we give to the EU and spend it on the NHS' is unaffected by the fact that objectively speaking it isn't true.)

No. But let's imagine that there are Tories in the future who remember this phrase. Let's imagine a situation in a few decades time whereby we really are able to put an extra £350m into the NHS every week.

A Tory might point at this fact and say "ah-ha, this proves that Boris was right all along!"

Whereas someone who isn't naturally from that political mindset might be a bit more nuanced and he might say:

  • that there has been inflation so £350m isn't worth what it was in 2016
  • that the meaning of the £350m was much more important than the actual figure
  • that Boris knew the number was bollocks but was trying to signal something to the Tory voters for political gain

The Tory might interpret the facts in one way, someone from outside might do it in another.

I agree that the actual words Boris used are bollocks, but that doesn't change the fact that he's used them for a particular purpose, that people in the future might interpret them in the light of a changed economic situation in a particular way if they're Tories compared to a non-Tory.

OK, this isn't a perfect simile, but I think suggests that it is sometimes possible to get deeper into the meaning of an event than members of the religion it drew from (particularly if they've somehow turned it into an item of faith or ritual) and that those who are religiously, politically, philosophically close to something that is held to have spiritual significance are not necessarily the best people to ask to find out what the "correct" meaning of it should be.

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Enoch
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
... It's not always true that the objective meaning of a story is always the same as the objective truth of that story. (The objective meaning of 'Let's take the £350 million pounds a week we give to the EU and spend it on the NHS' is unaffected by the fact that objectively speaking it isn't true.). ...

Sorry, but it is. If it is a lie uttered as political rhetoric for unscrupulous purposes, the objective question whether it's true or not is profoundly germane to that. Likewise, if it reveals that someone who aspires to high office here has the same sort of personal relationship with truth, honesty and integrity as the current POTUS, whether the statement is true or not is fundamental to everything else about that statement.

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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
It's not always true that the objective meaning of a story is always the same as the objective truth of that story. (The objective meaning of 'Let's take the £350 million pounds a week we give to the EU and spend it on the NHS' is unaffected by the fact that objectively speaking it isn't true.)

Well, but is it?

If a collection of Brexiteers honestly believed (having done some reasonable amount of diligence so as to be able to claim an honest opinion) that leaving the EU would produce an extra £350 million pounds a week in the pot, then the text could be an honest proposal to spend money on the NHS.

Or the Bs could believe £350 million pounds, but the suggestion to spend it on the NHS could be a cynical tug at the public heartstrings that they have no intention of following through with.

But given that we know that the £350 million pounds claim is pure nonsense, it is not open to us to believe that the Brexiteers did their due diligence and honestly believed that £350 million pounds a week would be available to the NHS.

So the possible meanings of this particular text are:

1. Lead Brexiteers did believe £350 million pounds, and so they are really stupid.

2. Lead Brexiteers did not believe £350 million pounds, and so are liars.

We need extra information to distinguish between 1 and 2.

The text is not just a series of logical propositions that exists with no context.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
Sorry, but it is. If it is a lie uttered as political rhetoric for unscrupulous purposes, the objective question whether it's true or not is profoundly germane to that.

Well, yes - except that sometimes things aren't as simple as they first appear. It is true that the £350m isn't a great reflection of the true numbers, given that it appears to be a gross figure and given that even if everything else was equal any excesses that the British government had after leaving the EU would also have to be shared amongst agriculture, science etc as well as the NHS.

But I don't think it therefore follows that this can simply be dismissed as unscrupulous rhetoric. I don't think it is quite as simple as Boris telling an obvious lie in order to get votes - because for one thing at the moment he doesn't need anyone to vote for him.

And for another thing, it is possible to construct an argument that says there could be some truth in this argument if a series of events happen - such as the UK economy doing extremely well post-Brexit, leading to higher than present tax coffers which in turn leads to extra money in the NHS.

quote:
Likewise, if it reveals that someone who aspires to high office here has the same sort of personal relationship with truth, honesty and integrity as the current POTUS, whether the statement is true or not is fundamental to everything else about that statement.
I think this is quite a naive understanding of politics - which is almost never about accountancy and economics and almost always about feelings, policies and ideas. Boris, it appears, genuinely believes that the UK is going to do very well out of Brexit. That is what he is selling here by talking about the £350m.

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hatless

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Could we have a moratorium on the word "objective"? It makes pretend to a higher level of truth. 'X is objectively the case,' meaning X is really, really definitely true and you simply can't disagree. Even science doesn't work like that.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Leorning Cniht:


But given that we know that the £350 million pounds claim is pure nonsense, it is not open to us to believe that the Brexiteers did their due diligence and honestly believed that £350 million pounds a week would be available to the NHS.

So the possible meanings of this particular text are:

1. Lead Brexiteers did believe £350 million pounds, and so they are really stupid.

2. Lead Brexiteers did not believe £350 million pounds, and so are liars.

We need extra information to distinguish between 1 and 2.

The text is not just a series of logical propositions that exists with no context.

I don't know that it is quite the same thing to be referring to this number now as during the referendum campaign. And it wasn't as if there was complete silence about it at the time - many were debunking it and calling it nonsense.

But the whole thing took a life of its own and accured meaning far and beyond the literal number printed on the side of a bus. As far as I can understand those who voted Brexit, it became a symbol of the money that was being spent in the EU by the UK (which, to be clear, as a net contributor we are spending more on the EU budget than we're getting back from the budget).

It was a signal that "we want control of our money back" which cut across the complexities of the Remain argument (such as that the economic benefits are more than simply the net contributions that the UK pays into the EU budget). Compared to the woolly sounding "we do quite well out of the EU, y'know", the slogan that "we're going to save shedloads of money by not being in the EU" had some attractions even if very few people actually believed that £350m a week was going to end up in the NHS.

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mr cheesy
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Sorry, my last was meant to conclude that "Brexit saves money for the NHS" has a certain kind of power to it beyond simply it being a deception or a lie. Or playing on the stupidity of voters.

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
Yes, I agree. It's one reason why I'd say that though the Bible is important, it's not the centre of our faith.

Jesus, the Word of God, is the centre of your faith.
Yes. I understand this is at least one reason why the Baptist Union has never signed up to the Evangelical Alliance Statement of Faith. The EA says, "We believe in ... the divine inspiration and supreme authority of the Old and New Testament Scriptures, which are the written Word of God", while the BU believes that "our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh, is the sole and absolute authority in all matters pertaining to faith and practice, as revealed in the Holy Scriptures". I much prefer the latter.
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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Sorry, my last was meant to conclude that "Brexit saves money for the NHS" has a certain kind of power to it beyond simply it being a deception or a lie. Or playing on the stupidity of voters.

So that's another possible meaning for the text - it was never intended to be an honest number, but is a metaphor for "we want our money back". Just like forgiving someone 70 times 7 times doesn't actually mean that you get to count up to 490...
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simontoad
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sorry, is this the OT thread, or the Brexit thread?

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by simontoad:
sorry, is this the OT thread, or the Brexit thread?

Good point, possibly not the best example to use. On the other hand, I think we were attempting to struggle to use a contemporary example to understand and discuss the phenomena of "truth" with regard to biblical text.

But I agree, probably best that we try a different metaphor.

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simontoad
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Oh, OK. I thought everyone sensible realised the OT wasn't literal. It's prayer, it's poetry, it's story, it's propaganda, it's hagiography, it's triumphant re-telling of the past, its lists of rules for an ancient people, but not the people it purports to be for, and above all it is a record of ancient peoples' attempt to grapple with the Big Issues. It's bloody brilliant in parts, incredibly dull in others, but it is not a primer for modern living.

Honestly, fuck truth. It's a massive furphy.

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Enoch
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Sorry, my last was meant to conclude that "Brexit saves money for the NHS" has a certain kind of power to it beyond simply it being a deception or a lie. Or playing on the stupidity of voters.

But it still matters whether it's true or not. A fine sounding lie doesn't become less of one for sounding good or symbolising what some people wish was true - though perhaps I'd better not say that or Professor Dawkins will seize on my words and accuse us of doing that.
quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan
Yes. I understand this is at least one reason why the Baptist Union has never signed up to the Evangelical Alliance Statement of Faith. The EA says, "We believe in ... the divine inspiration and supreme authority of the Old and New Testament Scriptures, which are the written Word of God", while the BU believes that "our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh, is the sole and absolute authority in all matters pertaining to faith and practice, as revealed in the Holy Scriptures". I much prefer the latter.

So do I.

Besides, scripture does not describe itself as the Logos. So we should not use phraseology that could be misunderstood to imply that we think it is.

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
Could we have a moratorium on the word "objective"? It makes pretend to a higher level of truth. 'X is objectively the case,' meaning X is really, really definitely true and you simply can't disagree.

No, it doesn't. Quite the opposite in fact. The word 'objective' claims that the truth of the matter is not answerable to the statement; the direction of fit is words to world. Therefore, a statement that claims objective truth is answerable to the world and therefore may be wrong.
On the other hand, a statement that disclaims objectivity has a direction of fit of world to words. The world is made answerable to the speaker. For example an expression of approval or disapproval has no appeal or response; if the hearer cares about the speaker's approval then the hearer must comply.

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
... It's not always true that the objective meaning of a story is always the same as the objective truth of that story.

Sorry, but it is. If it is a lie uttered as political rhetoric for unscrupulous purposes, the objective question whether it's true or not is profoundly germane to that.
But it is not germane to the meaning of the sentence. The sentence is false because the meaning is different from the truth.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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Ricardus
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
Yes, I agree. It's one reason why I'd say that though the Bible is important, it's not the centre of our faith.

Jesus, the Word of God, is the centre of your faith.
But the source for Jesus is the Bible. Going to the Bible, and not tradition, is central to the Reformation.
And there are subsects who equate the Bible as the be all and end all, a self-contained and fully explained compendium of everything.
Saying the Bible is not the whole, I get. But shoving from the centre I don't.

Well, 'central' is a bit of a vaguely defined concept I admit. But:

1. For most of history, Christians haven't had direct access to the Bible. Firstly because they couldn't read, and secondly because manuscripts were expensive.

2. I'm not convinced that 'X is the source of what we think about Y' implies that X and Y have similar status. Yes, we need the Bible to make the claims we make about Jesus, but for that matter we needed Johannes Gutenberg to make the Bible readily available, but that doesn't make Johannes Gutenberg central to our faith.

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Then the dog ran before, and coming as if he had brought the news, shewed his joy by his fawning and wagging his tail. -- Tobit 11:9 (Douai-Rheims)

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Martin60
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Agreed. Prior to Gutenberg all we had was the Church and there is no comparison there either.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
Yes, I agree. It's one reason why I'd say that though the Bible is important, it's not the centre of our faith.

Jesus, the Word of God, is the centre of your faith.
But the source for Jesus is the Bible. Going to the Bible, and not tradition, is central to the Reformation.
And there are subsects who equate the Bible as the be all and end all, a self-contained and fully explained compendium of everything.
Saying the Bible is not the whole, I get. But shoving from the centre I don't.

Well, 'central' is a bit of a vaguely defined concept I admit. But:

1. For most of history, Christians haven't had direct access to the Bible. Firstly because they couldn't read, and secondly because manuscripts were expensive.

2. I'm not convinced that 'X is the source of what we think about Y' implies that X and Y have similar status. Yes, we need the Bible to make the claims we make about Jesus, but for that matter we needed Johannes Gutenberg to make the Bible readily available, but that doesn't make Johannes Gutenberg central to our faith.

The bible isn't the physical book, but the sources that form it. Someone was referencing those sources in the spreading and teaching of Christianity in those years prior to literacy and cheap books. In other words, teaching from the Bible.

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If it's not here soon, I might be done
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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
But the source for Jesus is the Bible.

The Bible's only begotten son? [Big Grin]

But is Jesus the same substance as the Bible, or is He of similar substance?

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
But it still matters whether it's true or not. A fine sounding lie doesn't become less of one for sounding good or symbolising what some people wish was true - though perhaps I'd better not say that or Professor Dawkins will seize on my words and accuse us of doing that.

But there is sufficient ambiguity that it isn't simply a truth/lies statement. It probably isn't true, but it largely depends on exactly what Boris intended it to mean and what those listening think he is saying.

OK, yes, I'm sure the statisticians are right that there isn't £350m kicking around to invest in the NHS, but there is a subtlety there which goes beyond whether the number is correct or not.

Does it matter? Well I don't know if it does really. It's a statement of faith, not fact. It's saying something about the country post-Brexit, it is a claim that will never be proven or disproven until we get to the point of leaving the EU because we don't know what is going to happen with all the complex feedback loops caused by membership of the EU, the global economy and so on.

So whilst I can see the technical, mathematical and statistical argument is that Boris is talking bollocks, I can also see the argument that says a focus on this number is obscuring the way that most people are understanding what Boris is actually saying: namely that leaving the EU is going to release a shedload of cash we can spend in other ways. And that's a much more difficult thing to prove is a lie.

[ 19. September 2017, 21:13: Message edited by: mr cheesy ]

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Ricardus
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
2. I'm not convinced that 'X is the source of what we think about Y' implies that X and Y have similar status. Yes, we need the Bible to make the claims we make about Jesus, but for that matter we needed Johannes Gutenberg to make the Bible readily available, but that doesn't make Johannes Gutenberg central to our faith.

The bible isn't the physical book, but the sources that form it. Someone was referencing those sources in the spreading and teaching of Christianity in those years prior to literacy and cheap books. In other words, teaching from the Bible.
So? My point is that just because our beliefs about Y come from X, that doesn't make X and Y of equal status. In the modern world X is a set of objects and people that include Gutenberg; in the Middle Ages Gutenberg obviously wouldn't have been part of that set, but other people might, such as St Jerome. But just as Gutenberg isn't central to our faith, neither is St Jerome.

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Then the dog ran before, and coming as if he had brought the news, shewed his joy by his fawning and wagging his tail. -- Tobit 11:9 (Douai-Rheims)

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Moo

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quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
1. For most of history, Christians haven't had direct access to the Bible. Firstly because they couldn't read, and secondly because manuscripts were expensive.

You're right that most of them couldn't read and couldn't afford their own copies of the text; however, Bible passages were read aloud in church. People had plenty of opportunity to hear them.

Moo

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hatless

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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
Could we have a moratorium on the word "objective"? It makes pretend to a higher level of truth. 'X is objectively the case,' meaning X is really, really definitely true and you simply can't disagree.

No, it doesn't. Quite the opposite in fact. The word 'objective' claims that the truth of the matter is not answerable to the statement; the direction of fit is words to world. Therefore, a statement that claims objective truth is answerable to the world and therefore may be wrong.
On the other hand, a statement that disclaims objectivity has a direction of fit of world to words. The world is made answerable to the speaker. For example an expression of approval or disapproval has no appeal or response; if the hearer cares about the speaker's approval then the hearer must comply.

A statement that claims objective truth may be disproven, but the problem is that it's very hard to come up with any objective facts.

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lilBuddha
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Ricardus,
I didn't say the the Bible had equal status to Jesus. I stated my understanding as being other than that.

St. Jerome, Augustine, etc., are sources, yes. But much of their material will be drawn from the bible and not all Christians have the same level of respect for the saints. Other than the Silver Apostles and Ringo. Erm, I mean Paul.
The Bible remains the primary source for understanding in your religion.

[ 19. September 2017, 21:58: Message edited by: lilBuddha ]

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
A statement that claims objective truth may be disproven, but the problem is that it's very hard to come up with any objective facts.

That statement is the sort of thing that only an internet pundit could come out with.
Human beings need to breathe and consume nourishment.
All human beings are mortal.
All human beings spent at least twenty-five odd weeks developing in a woman's womb.
There's three.
(An 'objective fact' of course is a tautology.)

The objective truth or falsehood of a statement is not the same as whether it can be verified/falsified (as appropriate). (Verificationism and falsificationism effectively reject the concept of objective truth.)

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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