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Original Texts

 
jimrich
 
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jimrich
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21 April 2017 01:13
 

I have had a lot of very unhappy encounters with Christians but my biggest issue with them is about the Bible and it’s original text.  I don’t have the time or money to go look at and translate the original biblical writings, assuming they are even still available so it rubs me the wrong way to have folks quoting the bible as if they totally understand what it says.  I have yet to meet a Christian who has done their own examination and translation of the original biblical writings but will happily pass on the 2nd hand, hearsay information from unknown “scholars” in the current bibles.  I know just enough to understand that much of the original writings have been seriously misinterpreted and/or deliberately tampered with for POLITICAL reasons by powerful individuals in the church and elsewhere.  I am happy with some of the simple, common sense teaching in the bible and some other serious religious writings from India and Asia but would want to do my own translations if possible on any of them.rather than Parrot the work of so-called scholars and experts.  IMO, the main fault in translations will come where there is “mystical” or “esoteric” writings that someone attempts to convert to what they would see as “sensible” or “reasonable” when it is not meant to be “reasonable” to the average person, then or now.  Much of what is written in religious or spiritual literature is MYSTICAL by nature.and not meant to be taken literally.

 
MrRon
 
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MrRon
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21 April 2017 02:52
 

The Bible is simply “The Big Book of Multiple Choice.” People see in it what they want.

Ron

 
Lausten
 
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Lausten
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21 April 2017 04:34
 

There is no “original”. Of the NT, our earliest copies are 3rd century, and we have several of each book and they don’t match up. Most of the differences on inconsequential, but enough are, that we can say we can’t really know what they meant. We don’t who the authors are, the texts contain no attempt to cite sources and there are no extra-biblical corroborations.

 
 
hannahtoo
 
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hannahtoo
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21 April 2017 06:46
 

For a one-stop compendium of how the Bible was put together and how the it was changed, read “Misquoting Jesus” by Bart Ehrman.

 
GAD
 
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GAD
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21 April 2017 07:57
 

Faith means facts don’t matter.

 
 
Skipshot
 
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Skipshot
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23 April 2017 09:08
 

To this day people start religions of one kind or another, and Christianity just happens to be the one given the full faith and backing of the Roman Empire to kickstart it into the place of power it has held since.  Christianity’s validity outside of 1700 years of state sponsorship is no more than any other religion, so stop wasting your time arguing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

Believers believe because either they want to or are forced to.  I feel sorry for those forced into belief, and shake my head to those who chose to believe.  Religion is optional in the USA and on the same level as baseball, bird watching, and what to have for lunch.

 
Cheshire Cat
 
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Cheshire Cat
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23 April 2017 12:42
 
jimrich - 21 April 2017 01:13 AM

IMO, the main fault in translations will come where there is “mystical” or “esoteric” writings that someone attempts to convert to what they would see as “sensible” or “reasonable” when it is not meant to be “reasonable” to the average person, then or now.  Much of what is written in religious or spiritual literature is MYSTICAL by nature.and not meant to be taken literally.

I’ve always thought that philosopher Alan Watts had the right take on Jesus. He thought that Jesus had had some form of mystical, enlightening experience and that Jesus could only interpret this experience through the filter of the culture in which he was raised, which was Jewish. Jesus had to try and explain an experience which was beyond words, into a verbal translation that other people could understand. He tried to do this by using the context of the Jewish writings in the Torah and others. I think Jesus had great difficulty expressing his mystical experience to his disciples and potential followers, hence the famous and vague Parables. He was always saying that the “Kingdom of God is like ...,” to which he would add some enigmatic story.

It reminds me of the Buddhist idea of a finger pointing at the moon. The finger, (Buddhist teachings), are a cannon of texts, ideas and practices which are actually directing the seeker toward an experience beyond verbal thought and concepts, (the moon). You use the teaching until the you reach the point in which you transcend them, and then you leave the teaching behind.

Tricky business.

 

 
 
Lausten
 
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Lausten
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25 April 2017 10:30
 
Cheshire Cat - 23 April 2017 12:42 PM
jimrich - 21 April 2017 01:13 AM

IMO, the main fault in translations will come where there is “mystical” or “esoteric” writings that someone attempts to convert to what they would see as “sensible” or “reasonable” when it is not meant to be “reasonable” to the average person, then or now.  Much of what is written in religious or spiritual literature is MYSTICAL by nature.and not meant to be taken literally.

I’ve always thought that philosopher Alan Watts had the right take on Jesus. He thought that Jesus had had some form of mystical, enlightening experience and that Jesus could only interpret this experience through the filter of the culture in which he was raised, which was Jewish. Jesus had to try and explain an experience which was beyond words, into a verbal translation that other people could understand. He tried to do this by using the context of the Jewish writings in the Torah and others. I think Jesus had great difficulty expressing his mystical experience to his disciples and potential followers, hence the famous and vague Parables. He was always saying that the “Kingdom of God is like ...,” to which he would add some enigmatic story.

It reminds me of the Buddhist idea of a finger pointing at the moon. The finger, (Buddhist teachings), are a cannon of texts, ideas and practices which are actually directing the seeker toward an experience beyond verbal thought and concepts, (the moon). You use the teaching until the you reach the point in which you transcend them, and then you leave the teaching behind.

Tricky business.

 

I think Watts was part right there, but I’ll put aside the “mystical experience” for the moment. Obviously anything we receive from 2,000 years ago is filtered through culture. Less obvious, anything we say right now is filtered through culture.

While you’re thinking about that, consider that there was a 40 or so year period where the culture of early Christianity and it’s surrounding Jewish culture was under severe attack. Much of the history was lost. The authors are unknown, their motives difficult to discern. Augustine picked all this up after 200 more years and tried to fix what Constantine had done, and my guess is, he got much of it horribly wrong. Take the Parable of the Talents, the 3rd slave gets cast into the outer darkness, and pastors have been trying to make this story of a bad slave somehow palatable. But what if it was a story of how a whistle blower will get treated if they call out their evil master? Some scholars think that is the correct interpretation. We’re going to have to get everyone back in church and put in that correction.

 
 
Lausten
 
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Lausten
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25 April 2017 11:05
 
Skipshot - 23 April 2017 09:08 AM

To this day people start religions of one kind or another, and Christianity just happens to be the one given the full faith and backing of the Roman Empire to kickstart it into the place of power it has held since.  Christianity’s validity outside of 1700 years of state sponsorship is no more than any other religion, so stop wasting your time arguing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

Believers believe because either they want to or are forced to.  I feel sorry for those forced into belief, and shake my head to those who chose to believe.  Religion is optional in the USA and on the same level as baseball, bird watching, and what to have for lunch.

Here’s a non-hypothetical. I went to the confirmation of wife’s nephew this weekend. He’s 15. I watched as they put words up on the screen that we were all supposed say, about being sinners, about giving our minds to Jesus. You know. It was a big celebration because he now says he believes all this. Although, he doesn’t say much, so who really knows.

So, later I’m eating my bacon cheeseburger with about 60 relatives around and he’s out shooting hoops. Should I have gone out there and started asking him theological questions? Should I have presented logical fallacies to him? How would that play out next Thanksgiving? Being forced to believe doesn’t happen with thumb screws. It happens because your aunt makes you her famous cole slaw when you pass the test, it seems like you are choosing. It’s not like baseball at all.

 
 
jimrich
 
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jimrich
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25 April 2017 12:01
 
Lausten - 25 April 2017 10:30 AM
Cheshire Cat - 23 April 2017 12:42 PM

Some scholars think]/quote]
Are you a biblical scholar?  Have you personally translated any of the original writings?  Not to attack or malign your opinions but, I’d have a lot more respect for what you have written if you, your self, had studied and interpreted any of those original writings - starting with what appears to be authentic information in the Dead Sea Scrolls.  I’m OK with tossing around opinions based on 2nd hand information that’s given to us by so-called scholars but what about examining and translating the original work for one’s self.  I don’t have the time or money to go look at and work on the material that the bible or even the Vedas are based on and it seems silly to base any opinions on what someone I don’t even know says the original writing say.  So, that being said, I much prefer the thinking and writing of modern, current spiritual/philosophical teachers, spokespersons and living masters over ancient, mysterious, unverifiable and OUT DATED words coming from the Bible, Buddhism and the Vedas - as good as they are.  Actually I believe my own conscience is good enough for wisdom and direction over 2nd hand ancient writing.  If Jesus ever said, “I am the way.” I translate that as Jesus saying, “The I am IS the way.”  My translation=  The I am of every existing things IS THE WAY to the Divine Source of all that there is.  In other words you and everything there is, ARE GOD!  But that begs a further definition or explanation of “god” so off we go on the merry go round of words and semantics!
There is no god, no you, no me, no ‘I’, no we, no separate self - there is only the unnameable, indefinable “this” appearing as all the (temporary) objects and beings in the entire universe! .  What a show!

 
jimrich
 
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jimrich
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25 April 2017 12:38
 
Lausten - 25 April 2017 11:05 AM
Skipshot - 23 April 2017 09:08 AM

Believers believe because either they want to or are forced to.

Jim: I believe that most humans are forced to believe and behave by the culture they grow up in and rarely ever question the garbage they are programmed to mindlessly swallow from an early age.

Lausten - 25 April 2017 11:05 AM

Here’s a non-hypothetical. I went to the confirmation of wife’s nephew this weekend. He’s 15. I watched as they put words up on the screen that we were all supposed say, about being sinners, about giving our minds to Jesus. You know. It was a big celebration because he now says he believes all this. Although, he doesn’t say much, so who really knows.

Jim: LOL, I’d say he is parroting what he knows his parents and in-laws WANT TO HEAR and he can’t help but notice the “rewards” his obedience brings him!.

Lausten - 25 April 2017 11:05 AM

Being forced to believe doesn’t happen with thumb screws. It happens because your aunt makes you her famous cole slaw when you pass the test, it seems like you are choosing. It’s not like baseball at all.

Jim: When young, my cousin and I REFUSED to go to church one Sunday so our very unhappy, religious grandma took the rest of the kids off to church with her while we stayed home to play down on the beach. 
When they all came home from church, they had many exciting and festive stories about the Carnival that they spontaneously went to right after church and teased us about our very foolish decision NOT TO GO to church with them.  We felt both cheated and stupid but I could somehow sense the subtle “thumb screw” intentions of our grandma as punishment for DEFYING her and missing out on all the fun.  She told us, in a smug voice, that it was our own FAULT for refusing to go to church with her!  We felt like IDIOTS!
She was also very good at dishing out the “sinner” label and threats of HELL & DAMNATION!  She was a loving, humorous and pleasant woman but EXTREMELY religious - which kind of spoiled everything for me, as a child.  Fortunately, I did not grow up in her church or any other church so I do not suffer with the religious burdens that many folks carry.
On Easter, the trumpet player, in a small band, asked what church do I go to and I said, I don’t go to church so he said, (with a subtle judgment in his voice) “Oh, so your not a BELIEVER!”  I said that I do “believe” but I am not Religious - I’m Spiritual!.  LOL, they can’t hurt me with their religious judgments any more!

 
Lausten
 
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Lausten
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25 April 2017 14:55
 
jimrich - 25 April 2017 12:38 PM

We felt both cheated and stupid but I could somehow sense the subtle “thumb screw” intentions of our grandma as punishment for DEFYING her and missing out on all the fun.  She told us, in a smug voice, that it was our own FAULT for refusing to go to church with her!  We felt like IDIOTS!

The point is, you put the “thumb screw” in quotes. It’s not literal forcing, it’s coercion and indoctrination. Not everyone is able to see through that at 15. Especially if you live out in the middle of nowhere and don’t come in contact with other ideas.

 
 
Lausten
 
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Lausten
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25 April 2017 14:57
 
jimrich - 25 April 2017 12:01 PM
Lausten - 25 April 2017 10:30 AM

Some scholars think…

Are you a biblical scholar?

No. We depend on experts for a lot of things, safe food, cars that don’t explode. If you want to go straight to the source, that’s fine. Not sure why you felt obligated to tell me that.

 
 
jimrich
 
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jimrich
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25 April 2017 15:15
 
Lausten - 25 April 2017 02:57 PM
jimrich - 25 April 2017 12:01 PM
Lausten - 25 April 2017 10:30 AM

Some scholars think…

Are you a biblical scholar?

No. We depend on experts for a lot of things

I’m not sure who this “we” is but I certainly would not depend on someone I don’t know to tell me what the bible or any other holy book says.  I’d want to study if for my self in it’s original form - not that I ever will - LOL.

 
hannahtoo
 
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hannahtoo
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25 April 2017 17:47
 
jimrich - 25 April 2017 03:15 PM
Lausten - 25 April 2017 02:57 PM
jimrich - 25 April 2017 12:01 PM
Lausten - 25 April 2017 10:30 AM

Some scholars think…

Are you a biblical scholar?

No. We depend on experts for a lot of things

I’m not sure who this “we” is but I certainly would not depend on someone I don’t know to tell me what the bible or any other holy book says.  I’d want to study if for my self in it’s original form - not that I ever will - LOL.

There are actually people who study the oldest forms of Biblical books in their original languages—Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek.  One whose explications I’ve read is Bart Ehrman, whom I mentioned earlier.  He writes a lot about different translations and their implications.

 
jimrich
 
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jimrich
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26 April 2017 00:06
 
hannahtoo - 25 April 2017 05:47 PM

....One whose explications I’ve read is Bart Ehrman, whom I mentioned earlier.  .

I looked him up with google and am quite impressed with what all I read about how the bible has been messed with and that the original writings are NOT AVAILABLE.  If I were a biblical scholar this alone would turn me off!  Efforts are made to “reconstruct” the originals from all the “copies” but I’m not very impressed with that.  It’s not that i, personally, want to see the original text but that i am simply not happy with accepting the work of so-called scholars on anything and especially “scriptures”.  Why are any of them more qualified than me to read something and draw my own conclusions about it?  I am the one who wants to know what it said and not be told what it says like I am a mindless moron!  I once lived in Europe and became aware that many local languages are seriously MISINTERPRETED by us Americans so I began to do my own translating using whatever dictionaries I could find.  This was not scholastic or high level stuff but just working with everyday, ordinary language and translations TO MY SATISFACTION!  It became very clear to me that it is stupid to rely on the interpretations of others when I can do my own translations and maybe even better that the so-called Experts!.  I just might get Bart’s book just for the fun of it.

 
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