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posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 05:26am on 2007-06-27 under ,

"Christian scripture is unique among sacred texts. Nearly all sacred texts fall into two categories. The most common is dictated texts, which are considered by their adherents to be the literal words of their god or gods in a specific language (eg. the Quran in Arabic, the Baghavad Gita in Sanskrit); the text of which is held to be inerrant. The second is mytho-historic traditions (written and oral) in which actions are described in what is believed to be literal depictions of actual events relayed in an accurate and inerrant manner, generally from a single perspective.

"The Christian bible is not, despite the claims of some fringe extremists, the literal dictated Word of G-D; but rather, the inspired or revealed word. This distinction is critical. It is the Word as filtered through human, and therefore imperfect, agents. This is the reason that non-Christians assume that the differences between the Gospels are errors, when in fact, they are simply differerences of perspective and empahsis between the various authors. It is an extension of the biblical legal principle of not accepting any claim unless it is supported by at least "two or three witnesses". Nowhere in scripture is it claimed to be literal. It is revealed through the Holy Spirit, and through the Spirit, the fundamental message is preserved through multiplication of witnesses and viewpoints. G-D never says that His literal word will endure unchanged, but that the Spirit will ensure that the message endures regardless of the method of transmission."

-- [info] luchog, 2007-06-04 (these paragraphs are part of a response spanning multiple comments)

There are 5 comments on this entry. (Reply.)
posted by [identity profile] chemlabgoddess.livejournal.com at 03:59pm on 2007-06-27
That is one of the best things I've ever read regarding biblical literalism. I'm going to remember it for future use, thanks.
posted by [identity profile] dptwisted.livejournal.com at 09:45pm on 2007-06-27
The downside to this approach is that it allows one to pick the passage that best suits one's purpose, even if that purpose runs counter to the message.
posted by [identity profile] realinterrobang.livejournal.com at 01:29am on 2007-06-28
Get back to me when Christianity resolves its fundamental contradictions, never mind quibbling about the details. I agree entirely that Biblical literalists are nuts, though...
posted by [identity profile] madbodger.livejournal.com at 09:00pm on 2007-06-28
When I was reading Misquoting Jesus, the first part of the book spent a lot of time
addressing the question of whether the Bible was a "book of God" or a "book of man".
I was somewhat put off and mystified by this continued attention on what seemed to
be a simple semantic detail. I was wrong. The entire rest of the book, and in fact,
most reasoned writing on the subject, depends heavily on this distinction.
I'm curious as to why this person's assertion about what the Christian bible is should weigh more heavily than someone else's - say a literalist's? Do they offer some kind of proof of this assertion?

I'm not saying it's untrue - after all, this is a constant tension in traditional Judaism as well (are the Hebrew scriptures to be understood literally, or are they metaphoric? This is particularly a strong tension for traditional Jews -as why follow the law, if the books are simply metaphors and the laws aren't from God?

OTOH, with Christians where the paradigm is belief, I have trouble seeing in either case how it would work out. If you're a literalist how can you eat pork or a cheeseburger, and simultaneously insist that homosexuality or paganism, or worshipping other gods, or multiple sex parters are a problem (perhaps these aren't good examples to use given those who read this journal - how about, say killing, perhaps in a war, or perhaps not); for the hmm, inspirationist, how do you know what you're believing in, if the Christian scriptures are merely metaphoric. How could there be salvation through belief in Jesus, if you don't know if anything in the stories actually happened as it says? Wouldn't that include stories about Jesus? Is resurrection just a parable? Is the inspirationsist willingto go that far? If not, how can a distinction be made?)



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