Fw: Re: Christmas 2001 by Arthur Miller

ermadog at freenet.edmonton.ab.ca ermadog at freenet.edmonton.ab.ca
Thu Dec 27 18:25:44 MST 2001

On Thu, 27 Dec 2001, Jim Farmelant wrote:
> I suspect that was never meant to be taken very literally.  Spinoza,
> long ago, pointed out the poetic nature of biblical writing, and
> he suggested that a lot of it was never meant to be taken literally,
> and was not taken that way by the ancient Hebrews.

You are quite right to urge caution in accepting skeptics' criticisms of
biblical contradictions. Many do not excercise due care in reading a verse
in context, and there is consequently a lot of bad stuff in this vein
available on the Internet.

However, we discussed the Amalekite issue at length during my stay on
Farrell Till's biblical errancy list, and there are lengthier discussions
in the archives. The language is quite explicit, as is the language
describing the genocides in the Exodus story. In some of these stories,
people are subsequently punished by JHWH for their failure to "destroy

The archeological evidence shows no such conquest took place and other
evidence shows us that this escape-from-slavery-in-Egypt story was part of
the cultural heritage of all the nations of the era. We have a fragment of
a Phoenician exodus story extant. But quite clearly, genocide was an
acceptable *idea* as far as the biblical writers were concerned.

Many of the contradictions in both the Pentateuch and the Court History
are found in the "twice-told" stories - stories told several times because
several different manuscripts have been interwoven to produce the text we
have today. The Pentateuch reached its final form after the return from
Babylonian captivity, and is thought to have been put together by Ezra.

My favourite contradiction is that in the differing accounts of David's
numbering of Israel. II Samuel 24:1 tells us JHWH gave the order; whereas
I Chronicles 21:1 tells us Satan gave the order. If the biblical writers
can't tell the difference between God and Satan, how can they expect us to

The Skeptic's Annotated Bible, mentioned by Colin, is a pretty reliable
resource, as is www.religioustolerance.org.

Joan Cameron

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