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Monday, September 5, 2016


One of the areas I think is essential in any study is scholarship. In any field, the present builds on the past. The science of today, springs forward from the science of yesterday, adding, expanding, negating, going off in new directions, but most usually considering what has been found before to be accurate and what has led up blind alleys. In other words, there is no need to reinvent the wheel.

For some people this does not apply to religion, scriptures, creeds, customs, etc. It astounds me that some are content to believe an untruth just because the people around them and their grandparents accepted it. If this were true in science, we would still think the earth is flat, there is no way to go to the moon, diseases are punishments, mental illness is possession, and on an on.

I feel pain in my heart, for example, when some otherwise educated person actually tries to declare the Bible is literal and God wrote it. I know immediately they have not engaged in any degree of scholarship outside of their narrow circle.

The people of the Bible were Eastern people, with Near/Mid-Eastern languages, customs, values and worldviews. They were pre-science, pre-modern agriculture, pre-most of what we take for granted. To understand what was meant by what these people spoke and later wrote, we cannot escape learning about them. We have to skip past the Greeks who did their best I'm sure, but did not in the least have any understanding of the shepherds, prophets, and people who constitute the writings we call the Bible.

Just a tiny bit of such things for example:
The earliest portions of the Bible/Torah/Laws/Prophets written were in Babylonian captivity, for the most part centuries after the conception of the stories and myths. For example, the Exodus in about 1200 bce was written 6 to 7 hundred years later. The boundaries of Egypt had changed in the intervening years, so the trek was from Egypt to another part of Egypt, but the writers didn't know the boundaries had changed.
Almost all of the great Old Testament heroes spent a great deal of time as shepherds. Do you know about these ancient shepherds and their significance? I'm going to be speaking on this October 9th. It is fascinating to me.
The rule of conversing was exaggeration, metaphor, analogy and was always colorful, but not literal. They conveyed meaning rather than facts. That is the way of these ancient peoples. Have you studied this or learned their idioms? 
For much of the Old Testament, most of the people were nomads, villages were few, agriculture was primitive, mostly not developed beyond tending to figs, dates, olive trees and other foods found in the environs. 
It is my opinion that exploration into Bible scholarship does not take away from the  Bible, but it rather brings it alive and makes it more meaningful to our jaded modern eyes. As we take off our 21st century glasses and travel back in time in understanding, we find something powerful and deeply moving. We walk with the ancients and peer into their understanding that now informs us in life-transforming ways.

Have courage. Walk into the lands that once were, come to know the people that once were and quicken their knowing in your life.

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