What do I think about the bible (so far)?

I talked to a religious friend about my recent situations, and mentioned that I’ve been trying to read the bible. She asked me what I, as someone who was raised in a non-religious culture, have as my first impression of the bible. (I’ve only read the first few books and Matthew so far.)

My answer was that it was dense. There are so many things in it. And kind of dry too. Things not that interesting to modern societies.

Now that I come back to think again…

  • There are a lot of names in the Bible! Some familiar, like Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel, Noah… Jacob (who is Israel), Sarah (meaning Princess), Rachael, Babel, Sodom, Cannan. Some less familiar, like Methuselah, Enoch, Gideon, Jared, Bersheeba (the place with seven wells). Some are just odd, like Noah’s children: Shem, Ham, and Japheth, who had children: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras.
    • A lot of “English” names are from the bible, but there are many, many more biblical names that we don’t use anymore.
    • C’mon, wouldn’t it be awesome to name somebody “Ham”?
  • Genesis was full of events: generations come and go, civilizations rise and fall, miracles happen. In contrast the next five books was focusing on Moses and his assistant, Joshua.
    • In Genesis, we have:
      • Creation, of earth and Adam (and dinosaurs).
      • Cain (Smith) and Abel (Hunter).
      • Noah’s Ark.
      • Towel of Babylon.
      • Pillars of Salt.
      • Brother feud (again) between Issac and Jacob.
      • Mr. “Wrestles-with-God” Jacob wrestles with God.
      • Joseph brings the Jews to Egypt.
    • Even though the second book was named Exodus, Israel still haven’t conquered Cannan after Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua and Judges… are we there yet?
      • Leviticus did have the escaped goat (scapegoat).
    • Mostly because the Torah is full of rules and regulations, that happen to be told in the middle of a story.
      • What bible scholars call the P-document, for “Priestly”.
  • God of the Old Testament is… a bit mean.
    • Flood the world? Turning a city into salt? Yeah, they totally had it coming.
      • I’m of the opinion that Sodom was guilty not of gay sex, but of gang rape, in order to humiliate the messengers of God.
        • … do messengers from heaven even have “compatible equipment”?
    • But condemning the whole Jewish people for a few spies, who report that the enemy is strong, and attacking may lead to disaster? I call it being cautious. God calls it blasphemy. :(
    • That, and hardening Pharaoh’s heart so he will not let Moses’ people go, even though YHWH is in his Egypt, killing all his d00ds.
      • Bear in mind that a Pharaoh is thought to be god incarnate, so this is a my God versus your “god” thing.
  • Of war, the Isarelite are extremely humble.
    • All the victories are the glory of god. All the losses are because we sinned. Surely strategy and intel have nothing to do with it?
    • Maybe “extremely doormat” is a better phrase.
    • Israel, however, was technologically deficient: they had bronze weapons, which is better than plain copper, but some of their enemies know how to work iron. So to win against such overwhelming odds is a miracle indeed.
  • Some of the laws made sense back then. Remember, this was thousands of years ago.
    • No sex before marriage. Well, they didn’t have condoms, so no way to prevent unwanted pregnancy.
    • Stoning as punishment. Well, they didn’t have prisons, because Israel was an itinerant nation, one that hasn’t settled down yet.
    • And they didn’t have the printing press. All the text has to be remembered, or written down by hand.
      • Which made the printing press and movable type a big deal, said my religious friend, because “ZOMG Instant Bible” :)
  • Jesus isn’t like the God of the Old Testament.
    • Teaches that we should be good to our neighbors, love our enemies, and do to others how you would like to be treated.
      • The last one doesn’t really work unless both of you have the same culture background, and thus, expectations. But still, refreshing.
      • Also teaches we should not divorce.
        • If your love for spouse is so lacking that you are divorcing, then you have committed adultery. But that’s my interpretation.
    • Talks in riddles and parables.
      • The parable of sower, where those who have (faith) will have more in abundance, and those who have none will have everything taken, is a good illustration of confirmation bias, where we tend to give better weight to facts and reasoning that supports our own viewpoint.
    • Rebukes the devil and cast out demons from people.
      • But wait, the Old Testament doesn’t mention a devil or any demons. However, there are a lot of idols for other gods (which were all struck down by Jews).
      • Maybe he’s treating diseases, and was just interpreted as casting out demons by the writers? Germ theory didn’t exist then. Miasma theory probably didn’t exist then.

Some other things.

  • Do not covet your neighbor’s fursuit. 😉
  • Jesus teaches “beware of the yeast of the Pharisees” –  those who try to change the teachings of him. A ex-Jehovah’s Witness and an Atheist’s website both talked about Paul, who didn’t meet Jesus other than in a vision, and have no contact with the other disciples. (And was an evil tax collector, who repented.) Yet Paul’s teachings were canonized.