Sunday, July 26, 2015
From the Sources - 3
We begin with a reminder for our fundamentalist Christian friends: If you pick one verse from the Hebrew Bible and claim that whatever it says applies to us today, then you must give the same credence to all the other verses in the Hebrew Bible.
The author of Leviticus, known to scholars as the Priestly writer, was very concerned with the minutia of daily life. In the 11 chapter of the book of Leviticus, Moses and Aaron, after receiving the word from the Lord, specified to the people what they could eat and what they must abstain from eating.
So far as "land animals: any animal that has true hoofs, with clefts through the hoofs, and that chews the cud--such you may eat. The following, however, of those that either chew the cud or have true hoofs, you shall not eat: the camel--although it chews the cud, it has no true hoofs: it is unclean for you; the daman--although it chews the cud, it has no true hoofs: it is unclean for you; the hare--although it chews the cud, it has no true hoofs: it is unclean for you; and the swine--although it has true hoofs with the hoofs cleft through, it does not chew the cud: it is unclean for you. You shall not eat of their flesh or touch their carcasses; they are unclean for you."
So far as sea creatures: "you may eat of all that live in water: anything in water, whether in the seas or in the streams, that has fins and scales--these you may eat. But anything in the seas or in the streams that has no fins or scales, among all the swarming things of the water and among all the other living creatures that are in the water--they are an abomination for you ... Everything in water that has no fins and scales shall be an abomination for you."
The Priestly writer goes on and on describing all the "abominations" - creatures the Israelites cannot eat, including eagles, vultures, sea hawks, cormorants, pelicans, storks and herons of every kind. Other abominations include the mole, the mouse, great lizards...lots of abominations!
The Lord God is holy and "you shall not make yourselves unclean through any swarming thing that moves upon the earth."
[Note: The quotations above are from The Jewish Study Bible - Tanakh Translation.]
Summary: Fundamentalist Christians argue that every word in the entire Bible is true and is valid and is from God and must be obeyed. They obviously don't believe that as they certainly do not follow the dietary laws as spelled out in Leviticus 11.
They do like the word, "abomination," though, and use it frequently in regard to homosexuality, for as we shall see, the Lord thinks that not only is shrimp an abomination but so is same sex stuff. What makes shrimp okay in the eyes of Christians and gayness not? And if you're going to make homosexuals out to be "bad" guys (and gals) then you better do the same with shrimp eaters, and those who insist on bacon with their eggs!
Let's now go back to the 5th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, written toward the end of the first century of the Christian Era by an unknown author. The name, Matthew, was attached to the gospel, but no one knows who wrote it.
In the 29th verse of the 5th chapter, Jesus is quoted as saying: "If your right eye is your undoing, tear it out and fling it away; it is better for you to lose one part of your body than for the whole of it to be thrown into hell." He also said to do the same with your right hand if that's giving you trouble.
I know of nobody today who takes that literally. Jesus, they argue (liberals and fundamentalists alike) was using hyperbole to get across a point.
But then Jesus says "If a man divorces his wife for any cause other than unchastity he involves her in adultery; and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery."
Oh boy, the fundies and the Catholic hierarchs love that one. How many people have been shunned or excommunicated because of adultery?
But why take this literally when you don't take the previous verses literally. Jesus never says "I'm exaggerating for effect, you don't really have to pluck out your eye". Maybe he was winking when talking about adultery and whoever wrote this book didn't see the wink?
Matthew, chapter 6, has some delicious words directly from the Lord about hypocrisy which needs to be read and re-read and re-read by our pious politicians and pulpit pretenders and people who sit in the pews Sunday after Sunday.
But that's for RTS 4.