Truth of the matter

Soon, I’m going to begin periodic posts about the Old Testament that are designed to dispense with some of the likely nonsense and put many of the stories from that part of the Bible into a more realistic context. I won’t post every day on this subject, but it will likely be a very long series overall, given how much ground I have to cover.

Before I get to that, let me be clear about something: While I believe that the Bible is the Word of God, I don’t subscribe to the notion that every single word is literal, particularly in the Old Testament. I don’t have my head in the sand. Much of the Old Testament is thousands upon thousands of years old and derives from documents and/or oral traditions that don’t survive today. Unlike the New Testament, the consistency and accuracy of which is supported by thousands of existing ancient copies of the documents in multiple languages—and which also benefits from having been written in a time when historian was actually a legitimate and respected job—the Old Testament has clearly had to go through a lot of changes over the years.

Bible purists may lambast me for that, but wait. Yes, there are portions of the Old Testament Bible that are prophetic and those I readily accept as being God’s word spoken directly through that prophet. And there are historical books like Kings and Chronicles that, while not always 100% accurate on numbers and other things, are likely to be accurate about the larger points. Genesis, however, is one book in particular where I think that while God may have passed the stories on through Moses or someone else, the bulk of it is symbolic. And there are others as well, though Genesis will probably be mostly what I tackle.

Did a Great Flood occur? Probably, but I don’t necessarily think it covered the whole world? Did Adam and Eve alone spawn the entire human race? Not so sure about that either. And so on.

So, what I will do is try to give some of my musings and theories on what might really have happened in some of the more mythological-seeming Old Testament stories and how they might really be brought into a more realistic context.

None of this dilutes the truth of the Bible. That some of the older things may have been symbolic is hardly surprising, as people of the time would have been hard-pressed to understand things the way they were presented, much less be hit with information the likes of which we have access to—and comprehension of—these days even with an elementary school education.

There is truth…and then there is TRUTH. The Old Testament is mostly about explaining where we come from and why we failed God and how we chose over and over to reject him. It sets up the need for the Messiah and is meant to be a lesson for us. That, my friends, is truth.

The TRUTH in big bold letters is the New Testament, because it’s the current and future covenant with God and a key to finding the path to salvation.

I hope the clear up some of the truth, so that the TRUTH will come easier to you if it isn’t already part of your life.


2 Responses to “Truth of the matter”

  1. May 2, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    I look forward to hearing your thoughts on these topics.

    Personally, I do take a pretty literal view of what happened in the bible. I mean, I don’t the bible is the definitive history of the world, and I think God skipped over a lot of things in his retelling.

    However, I don’t think some of the crazy miracles, such as the flood, or the Tower of Babel, or the parting of the Red Sea, are that outlandish when you consider that they were done through the power of God. Whenever I find myself questioning whether something was possible, I think, “Well, do you believe God is all-powerful or not?”

    Anyway, looking forward to future discussions on these topics.

  2. May 3, 2008 at 8:56 am

    It’s funny, because I do think that God could do all those things…it’s just that for some of the OT accounts, I don’t know how likely it seems he would.

    So, parting the Red Sea, yeah, I see that having happened…along with the plagues visited upon Egypt. Samson, I can see that stuff having gone down. And a lot of other miracles, too.

    Flooding the entire world? Not so sure, particularly because of the lack of any physical record of that happening. Tower of Babel…possible…but I don’t think that event was the literal cause of the world having multiple languages.

    But yeah…I agree with you that all of those things are possible. My concern is that if we take everything too literally than we get into tricky areas like espousing a 7,000-year-old Earth (as you’ve already mentioned, some things likely got left out to keep the Bible manageable…including untold numbers of descendents from Adam and Eve). And I don’t see God doing some great miracle like flooding the whole Earth and then erasing all geological record of it because God isn’t supposed to be the author of confusion.

    Anyway, it’s all speculation anyway, and you’ll be with me along the journey so I look forward to your comments going forward….as well as those of anyone else.

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Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

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