RE: Grounds for disbelief

From: Debbie Mann (
Date: Tue Jun 03 2003 - 12:31:13 EDT

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    I have to little books by Bishop Pillai that discuss cultural habits of the
    time which change the meaning of certain texts considerably. I would like
    confirmation on some of his claims, as I find them challenging. One of them
    is that 'heaping coals on the heads of one's enemies' actually referred to a
    habit of carrying hot coals in a pot on one's head which was 'warming'. So
    rather than being a statement of damnation, it was a statement that one
    would warm up one's chilly enemies.

    Anotehr was about the woman who lost her coin and swept the whole house
    until she found it. He claims that this was a wedding coing and that losing
    it would be grounds for divorce. The wedding coins were a special gift from
    the husband's family and were worn in the hair on special occasions.

    Has anybody done research into this kind of cultural interpretation of the

    -----Original Message-----
    From: []On
    Behalf Of Jan de Koning
    Sent: Tuesday, June 03, 2003 9:59 AM
    Subject: Re: Grounds for disbelief

    At 06:04 PM 02/06/2003 -0400, wrote:

    By Aviva Lori

    Archaeologist Israel Finkelstein and his colleagues are stirring controversy
    with contentions that many biblical stories never happened, but were written
    by what he calls `a creative copywriter' to advance an ideological agenda.


     Finally, I cannot resist the temptation to say something in a debate that I
    have been involved in for many years, probably for fifty years or more.

    "Never happened" and "advance an ideological agenda" are expressions which
    have a certain "ideological" background. Expressions like that do not help.
    All of us are Christians, the ASA is after all an organization of
    Christians, according to its statutes. That means that all of us accept the
    Bible. If anyone not the death and resurrection has no meaning for that
    person, and such a person has no right to call himself a Chrisrian. That
    non-Christians disagree with me, us, is nothing new. Nor is it new that
    outsiders don't accept the Bible.

    My remarks here do not mean, that therefor our differences have no meaning.
    From my own experience I would say, that the greatest difficulty is, that
    many have not had a basic Christian schooling, and accept Christianity only
    for part of their life, which means that when they study, they do not try to
    fit their daily studies into their Christian acceptance of the Bible.

    I have to add here right away, that accepting the Bible does not mean, that
    therefor you have to read it as a science-text, nor do you have to put it
    aside as something irrelevant for your daily studies. But, as you go out of
    your way in your "scientific" studies, you should go "out of your way" in
    your biblical studies. Both are founded on the works of the same God who
    will not fool you in either place. That means that you should be doing a
    lot more than just saying "Science" says, or the "Bible"says. It is just
    laziness (sorry, for saying it that way, but I don't know another way) to
    say, "the Bible says", or "Science" says, without giving any thorough reply
    to the difficulties raised. Thus far I missed that. I do not want to get
    involved again. Thus far I have not seen any thorough discussion of the
    Bible, which takes into account the studies of orthodox Christian
    theologians, who reject the way some try to get out of the difficulties by
    saying you have to read the Bible as a beginner in the 21st century will
    read it. Readers on this forum should not be beginners, either in Bible
    reading, nor in science.

    From the side of the "literal" readers of the Bible, I miss very much a
    discussion of the language, human history, philosophies etc. of the peoples
    in biblical times. Their story telling is different. An example which most
    of us accept is Jesus' telling of stories. We call them parables. Another
    place where we see it in modern history telling. As my name indicates, I am
    originally a Dutch Calvinist. The way I read about the Dutch-English wars
    in the seventeenth century is very different in Dutch books than it is in
    English books. That is only a few centuries ago. As long as we do not talk
    about the history AND philosophies of the Bible-writers we are not getting
    anywhere. The arguments are often not replied to, nor even heard, which
    makes this discussion utterly uselees and frustrating.

    Jan de Koning

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