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Reading the Old Testament is an exercise . . .


consiglieri

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In teaching the first half (so far) of Genesis in Gospel Doctrine, and listening to the comments from class members, I am beginning to think that, for many, reading the Old Testament is an exercise in justifying bad behavior.

By this, I mean that a great deal of energy and creativity goes into seeking to excuse the actions of Old Testament luminaries; actions that would be condemned, or at least frowned upon, in contemporary Mormon society.

And we haven't even gotten to Genesis 34 yet. :P

Any thoughts?

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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The only reason I bring this up is because I think we might be further ahead if we used those energies in trying to understand what the text is saying rather than trying to make it conform to our modern sensibilities.

Not that I am always successful in that . . .

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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By this, I mean that a great deal of energy and creativity goes into seeking to excuse the actions of Old Testament luminaries; actions that would be condemned, or at least frowned upon, in contemporary Mormon society.

Here, I'll preempt Will S. and save him labor of being repetitive.

That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another. God said that thou shalt not kill, -- at another time he said thou shalt utterly destroy. This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted -- by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed. Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire.

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Like who? Lot? The JST comes to the rescue in his case.

More like Adam, Eve, Noah, Abraham, Lot, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, Laban, and pretty much all Jacob's 12-sons (Judah gets special mention) with the possible exception of Joseph.

I think that covers just about everybody in Genesis . . . except for the bad guys.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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In teaching the first half (so far) of Genesis in Gospel Doctrine, and listening to the comments from class members, I am beginning to think that, for many, reading the Old Testament is an exercise in justifying bad behavior.

LOL... welcome to the Old Testament.

A space alien reading the Old Testament would rightfully conclude that God is very possibly the most petty, murderous and maniacal characters ever described in literature.

I just take my "as far as it is translated correctly" ticket and flee as far from the OT as possible.

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Here, I'll preempt Will S. and save him labor of being repetitive.

That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another. God said that thou shalt not kill, -- at another time he said thou shalt utterly destroy. This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted -- by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed. Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire.

Works great...until a class member asks what the context for the quote was. :P

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More like Adam, Eve, Noah, Abraham, Lot, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, Laban, and pretty much all Jacob's 12-sons (Judah gets special mention) with the possible exception of Joseph.

Well . . . that's if you buy Joseph's story about his "escape" from Mrs. Potiphar . . . and that he "kept the faith" of Israel while working for Pharaoh, his divining cup notwithstanding.

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Works great...until a class member asks what the context for the quote was. :P

So let's say a class member does ask what the context for the quote is, cinepro.

And let's say I'm the only person in class who, like, actually knows.

Am I required to tell the truth?

(I mean, it's not like I'm the freaking teacher, or anything. Oh, wait a second . . .)

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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Well . . . that's if you buy Joseph's story about his "escape" from Mrs. Potiphar . . . and that he "kept the faith" of Israel while working for Pharaoh, his divining cup notwithstanding.

I think Joseph's divining cup only works against him with non-LDS Christians.

But can you imagine all the eye-liner he went through?

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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Why am I getting the feeling people are uncomfortable with stories in the OT because it doesn't fit their personal sense of morality and right/wrong? That sounds familiar...

How much do we support this statement:

That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another. God said that thou shalt not kill, -- at another time he said thou shalt utterly destroy. This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted -- by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed. Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire.

Why are we uncomfortable with the OT then?

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Well . . . that's if you buy Joseph's story about his "escape" from Mrs. Potiphar . . . and that he "kept the faith" of Israel while working for Pharaoh, his divining cup notwithstanding.

And what, if any relation, it has to do with a remarkably similar Egyptian Story. It does seem at times that all the major stories in Genesis are either

  • a re-contextualization of an older story/myth, reapplied to the Israel's Founding Fathers, or
  • Pointing out that all of Israel's enemies had an incestual origin.

"Why do we hate the Moabites, son? You do know where they came from, right? Let me tell you the story of the one time Lot's daughters got him drunk..."

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My family is reading the old testament this year and before we started we decided to even read all the begat chapters (we skipped them last time). We are having a blast. For example last night we read Genesis chapter 36 and we would have so much fun trying to pronounce the weird sounding names and we emphasized the word "Duke" so many times we would break out laughing, it was fun. Not too spiritual but hey it least were reading it together and enjoying ourselves.

But your right the old testament has some weird sounding stuff but hey were LDS we are used to people saying we believe weird stuff.

Duet 23:1

Have fun with that scripture!

Anijen the old testament is a kick...

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Why are we uncomfortable with the OT then?

I think it is because we (unconsciously?) impose our modern sense of morality on the text. Once we can get past that, the sky is the limit.

I took the opportunity yesterday to explain to my class that a classic example of this is how we tend to see Lot as as dirty so-and-so for offering up his daughters to the angry (and somewhat bawdy) mob to protect his two male visitors; but when viewed from the perspective of the culture in which the story was written, it would likely be seen as a paramount act of virtue on Lot's part, perhaps even akin to Abraham's being willing to sacrifice his son(s).

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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"Why do we hate the Moabites, son? You do know where they came from, right? Let me tell you the story of the one time Lot's daughters got him drunk..."

I tend to agree with you here, Nack. And yet, the text puts no negative connotations on the act itself, and seemingly lets Lot off the hook on account of he was totally hammered both times (not unlike Noah), and the two daughters are excused in that they think that all the other men on earth have been recently vaporized.

You know, the Old Testament seems to go to lengths to justify the actions of those outside the patriarchal lineage while exposing the actions of those inside the patriarchal lineage with no excuses made.

Interesting, that.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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One should remember that the Old Testament is an extremely brief account written by an ancient culture to other members of the same culture. Without the cultural context it's no surprise much of it is confusing to us, and the brevity of the account means that much of the story that might make it more understandable (or, in our view, justified) is simply not present.

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I think it is because we (unconsciously?) impose our modern sense of morality on the text. Once we can get past that, the sky is the limit.

God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because not enough righteous adults were found. What about their kids? I was told that the kids were better off dead because without parents they would suffer too much - like from starvation. So the way for our modern brains to handle this is to realize that those kids didn't really need to live anyway. Who knows, they probably would have grown up just like their parents. Sucks to be them.

Somehow, God really needs me to live. I'm different than those little kids.

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One should remember that the Old Testament is an extremely brief account written by an ancient culture to other members of the same culture. Without the cultural context it's no surprise much of it is confusing to us, and the brevity of the account means that much of the story that might make it more understandable (or, in our view, justified) is simply not present.

So that would be a vote in favor of my practice of going into the history and culture of the ancient Israelites in Gospel Doctrine class?

I especially like the way the KJV has Abraham make his servant put his hand under Abraham's "thigh" to swear an oath, when it is really going under his cajones. (Gen. 24: 2,9; see also 49:29 where Jacob has Joseph do the same thing.)

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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So that would be a vote in favor of my practice of going into the history and culture of the ancient Israelites in Gospel Doctrine class?

I especially like the way the KJV has Abraham make his servant put his hand under Abraham's "thigh" to swear an oath, when it is really going under his cajones. (Gen. 24: 2,9; see also 49:29 where Jacob has Joseph do the same thing.)

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

And because modern readers wouldn't get it, the JST changed it to 'hand'. 19th Century folk understood making a deal or promise by the clasping of hands.

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