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The Trombone ForumPractice BreakChit-ChatReligion(Moderator: bhcordova) TTF "Read Da Book": The Christian Bible
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drizabone
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« Reply #2340 on: Jun 19, 2017, 12:46AM »

Ezekiel 6 text

Highlights

 - Don't betray God, or else.

Summary

 - God tells Ezekiel to prophesy against the mountains of Israel.
 - God will destroy all the high places in the mountains, littering the altars of other deities with the corpses and scattered bones of the people who worshipped them.
 - The people who are spared will remember how hurt and angry God was about their betrayal. They'll feel ashamed.
 - Famine, pestilence, and warfare will wipe out a huge number of people.
 - God will demonstrate that he is The Lord by making sure that the Judeans who worshipped foreign gods will have their rotting corpses lying in front of the idols they once worshipped on the high places.
 - God will destroy all the settlements from the wilderness to Riblah, further letting everyone know that he is The Lord

Questions and Observations

1) Would this have counted as valid data for a possible God hypothesis?
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« Reply #2341 on: Jun 19, 2017, 03:16AM »

or perhaps he was foretelling it?

Ha, good one! :-)

But seriously, I don't understand why, when any of the mundane mechanisms suggested above would explain something like this without resorting to the exotic, anyone would skip straight over them and jump to the exotic as a likely explanation.

Ezekiel 6 text

Highlights

 - Don't betray God, or else.

Summary

 - God tells Ezekiel to prophesy against the mountains of Israel.
 - God will destroy all the high places in the mountains, littering the altars of other deities with the corpses and scattered bones of the people who worshipped them.
 - The people who are spared will remember how hurt and angry God was about their betrayal. They'll feel ashamed.
 - Famine, pestilence, and warfare will wipe out a huge number of people.
 - God will demonstrate that he is The Lord by making sure that the Judeans who worshipped foreign gods will have their rotting corpses lying in front of the idols they once worshipped on the high places.
 - God will destroy all the settlements from the wilderness to Riblah, further letting everyone know that he is The Lord

Questions and Observations

1) Would this have counted as valid data for a possible God hypothesis?

Do you mean if people saw Yahweh slaying all these people? Sure. Did they in fact see this?
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« Reply #2342 on: Jun 19, 2017, 04:14AM »

Do you mean if people saw Yahweh slaying all these people? Sure. Did they in fact see this?

I was thinking:
1. Ezekiel in Babylon says that all the idol worshipers will be killed and scattered around their idols
2. This happens as predicted.

And I don't know even if the bible records it happening, I was just seeing what you might consider valid historical data.
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« Reply #2343 on: Jun 19, 2017, 05:42AM »

I'd want at the minimum to have it recorded by people who didn't have a vested interest in proclaiming that it happened - extra-biblical sources. If the Israelite records say something happened that suits their religious narrative, then we raise our eyebrows; "Hmm, isn't that convenient". If the Babylonians and Egyptians (say) also record that the same thing happened, then we trust the event much more. Corroboration is the key.

What we're reading here is basically propaganda - often considering why a given passage was written is more informative than understanding what it says.
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« Reply #2344 on: Jun 19, 2017, 05:45PM »

I'd want at the minimum to have it recorded by people who didn't have a vested interest in proclaiming that it happened - extra-biblical sources. If the Israelite records say something happened that suits their religious narrative, then we raise our eyebrows; "Hmm, isn't that convenient". If the Babylonians and Egyptians (say) also record that the same thing happened, then we trust the event much more. Corroboration is the key.

I'll look out for examples

Quote
What we're reading here is basically propaganda - often considering why a given passage was written is more informative than understanding what it says.

- I would agree that it is information provided for a purpose and that it considering why it was written is informative.
- but calling it propaganda categorises it as having a biased or misleading nature - which I wouldn't automatically agree with

So we have some interesting questions about the text:
1. is this info accurate or not
2. what sort of bias or focus does it have (I would think that a report will only provide a filtered view of an event, but it can do this without being misleading. Do you concur? So bias is just a way of describing filtering the report in a misleading fashion.)
3. So if Ezekiel is filtering the info, is there any evidence to indicate whether or not this was misleading or not?
4. why would Ezekiel (or "the writer/s") be providing this info, can we get an idea of his intent?
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« Reply #2345 on: Jun 20, 2017, 02:35AM »

I should note that my comments in the last couple of posts are generally applicable. Ezekiel (the little of his book we've read so far, at any rate) is no worse nor better in this regard than other books. We've certainly read other books in this adventure that have explicitly strained our credulity in their basic shape more than any of these prophet books, e.g. the fanciful Tobit, the quasi-historical novella Judith, or to return to the protocanon, the recasting of Babylonian deities into Jewish form via a legendary narrative, Esther. Exodus also seems to openly defy what is externally known, as does Joshua.

I'll look out for examples

I find it very satisfying when one can tie two sources together. When Kings tells us that Sennacherib went home and died after besieging Jerusalem, and then an Assyrian source tells us that he lived 20 years after the siege, we contrast the two to learn something about their reliabilities. Is there any reason why the Assyrian source would alter their version of the narrative? The most obvious distorting motive that might be present would be to glorify their work - but this isn't served by falsifying regnal dates. There seems no obvious reason to distrust the Assyrian chronology at this point in time (though note that their royal ancestor list, like that of the Israelites, spirals into obvious mythology in far history, with absurd lifespans and non-realistic events - and note, absurd lifespans that do not tie up with the absurd lifespans in the early Bible). And further - it's reasonable to assume that the Assyrian chronicler was more familiar with Assyrian affairs than the far-away writer of Kings, who was separated in both place and time from Sennacherib's later career. The implication of Kings that Sennacherib perished at Yahweh's judgement for challenging Judah immediately looks like wishful thinking.

- I would agree that it is information provided for a purpose and that it considering why it was written is informative.
- but calling it propaganda categorises it as having a biased or misleading nature - which I wouldn't automatically agree with

So we have some interesting questions about the text:
1. is this info accurate or not

To be clear - are we talking about the apparent foretelling of Jerusalem's problems here? I'll assume so for now.

In one sense, it is accurate - in a general kind of way, it says that everything's going to fall to bits.
In another, it doesn't attempt to be accurate - there's (so far, anyhow) few explicit details. And those that have been given (lengths of captivity) are wrong.

It's all a bit "I'm getting a name... John... John... Does anyone in the room know a John...?", dressed up in theatrics. Which are entertaining in themselves - but trustworthy? Just a device to grab and hold peoples' attention, in my estimation.

2. what sort of bias or focus does it have (I would think that a report will only provide a filtered view of an event, but it can do this without being misleading. Do you concur? So bias is just a way of describing filtering the report in a misleading fashion.)

This is a basic problem of human recording. All events are filtered through the perception of the recorder, no matter how objective they strive to be. But that doesn't mean that objectivity isn't worth the effort, despite the attempts of some to line up attempted objectivity and passionately embraced subjectivity as equivalent - we touched on this a few pages back with John pointing out that being scientific is not some kind of philosophical perfection as if that invalidated the worth of striving to get closer to reliability. I ran out of time to reply to that strand - but that observation was the core of my next reply that never got written.

So we have these texts that have been selected and refined by the adherents to explain Yahweh-worshipping. The original author(s) may have falsified various aspects in order to get their message across. The original author may well not be Ezekiel, but rather a priest(?) writing years later. Subsequent custodians of the text may well have rewritten, replaced, and modified sections - cf. Isaiah. At any of these stages someone may have been tempted to massage the words in order to place an apparent accurate foretelling in Ezekiel's mouth in order to make their religious tradition look more impressive.

3. So if Ezekiel is filtering the info, is there any evidence to indicate whether or not this was misleading or not?

Other source books dealing with this context are not plentiful, sadly. Jeremiah and Baruch touch on the same context, but not the same material - and also attract the same suspicions of religious motive as Ezekiel does. Are there any corroborations coming in the minor prophets? The Quran has a figure called "Dhul-Kifl" who is by some identified with Ezekiel. I'm not aware of any Babylonian records mentioning him?

As things stand, it seems to me that all we can do is accept the Book of Ezekiel for what it is - the only description of his events, flawed in whichever ways it may be. We note his descriptions, and we note where we suspect the flaws may be. We can do no more in honest intellectual effort.

4. why would Ezekiel (or "the writer/s") be providing this info, can we get an idea of his intent?

Good question. What is the message that is usually extracted from Ezekiel by those within your church that sermonise on it? Perhaps that would be a good question for John, Tim, Dusty, or any other Christian (or follower of Judaism, mutatis mutandis) too.

Then - is that the same message that was intended for an ancient audience? To me, it seems to be providing us with some foundational messages - i) Trust Yahweh, and don't mess him around; ii) Ezekiel had a hotline to Yahweh; iii) Rather incidentally, glimpses of life in this context. But for me, (iii) is the real meat of what I am reading - for you, that will differ significantly.
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« Reply #2346 on: Jun 20, 2017, 02:39PM »

Good question. What is the message that is usually extracted from Ezekiel by those within your church that sermonise on it? Perhaps that would be a good question for John, Tim, Dusty, or any other Christian (or follower of Judaism, mutatis mutandis) too.

we haven't had a series on Ezekiel so I couldn't say.  But I'll let you know at the end,

Quote
Then - is that the same message that was intended for an ancient audience?


You may not have meant this and the previous point to imply a sequence, but we normally aim to understand what a text means to its original readers first, then how it fits within context/narrative arc of the completed bible, and then we can think about what it means to us and what if any application it has.

Quote
To me, it seems to be providing us with some foundational messages - i) Trust Yahweh, and don't mess him around; ii) Ezekiel had a hotline to Yahweh; iii) Rather incidentally, glimpses of life in this context. But for me, (iii) is the real meat of what I am reading - for you, that will differ significantly.

I'm wondering why Ezekiel decided to write what he did to the exiles in Babylon?  The exiles would have been in a pluralistic society that had idols, values and world views that would have competed with Yahweh.  Sounds like today. The message of being faithful to Yahweh seems to fit strongly with your i).  Given that idolatry didn't seem to be a problem after the exile, it seemed to have been successful.  Would this have been the case if Ezekiel's predictions hadn't been accepted as accurate and reliable?  (They may have stopped overtly worshipping other gods/idols but that didn't mean that they were particularly faithful to Yahweh.) 
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« Reply #2347 on: Jun 20, 2017, 09:08PM »

But seriously, I don't understand why, when any of the mundane mechanisms suggested above would explain something like this without resorting to the exotic, anyone would skip straight over them and jump to the exotic as a likely explanation.

I nearly forgot this. I wanted to explain how I see things.  I think I understand why you don't understand. You're a material sort of guy.  We or at least I, on the other hand, believe that the God of the bible exists, that he created everything and that everything that happens, whether mundane or exotic, is God's activity.  So whether or not we can identify a mechanical explanation for something, its not a problem to see a spiritual explanation to it. 

(Aside: And he knows what is going to happen either because he is out of time and can see it everything at once, or because he knows what he's going to do.) 

I understand that the bible is God's revelation to us, so its expected that things that it talks about will have special significance, regardless whether they are seen as mundane or not.

I also note that the scientific explanation of gravity and other non-supernatural physical phenomena are far from mundane.  Any one for some quantum mechanics before breakfast?  Entanglement is so not mundane isn't it.  (But I know science didn't skip the easy obvious explanation and go straight for the right one, like you're complaining about for these prophecies.)

So I'm just pointing out that the simple mundane explanation is often not right, and my perspective facilitates our not being biased to exclude a spiritual cause for events.  And it also allows me to express this so that it sounds like we're not biased like you :)

On a slight tangent, I've read that many people rejected Newton's idea of gravity because the idea of objects acting on each other at a distance was to exotic and smacked of the supernatural.
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« Reply #2348 on: Jun 21, 2017, 11:21AM »

I nearly forgot this. I wanted to explain how I see things.  I think I understand why you don't understand. You're a material sort of guy.  We or at least I, on the other hand, believe that the God of the bible exists, that he created everything and that everything that happens, whether mundane or exotic, is God's activity.  So whether or not we can identify a mechanical explanation for something, its not a problem to see a spiritual explanation to it. 

(Aside: And he knows what is going to happen either because he is out of time and can see it everything at once, or because he knows what he's going to do.) 

I understand that the bible is God's revelation to us, so its expected that things that it talks about will have special significance, regardless whether they are seen as mundane or not.

I also note that the scientific explanation of gravity and other non-supernatural physical phenomena are far from mundane.  Any one for some quantum mechanics before breakfast?  Entanglement is so not mundane isn't it.  (But I know science didn't skip the easy obvious explanation and go straight for the right one, like you're complaining about for these prophecies.)

So I'm just pointing out that the simple mundane explanation is often not right, and my perspective facilitates our not being biased to exclude a spiritual cause for events.  And it also allows me to express this so that it sounds like we're not biased like you :)

On a slight tangent, I've read that many people rejected Newton's idea of gravity because the idea of objects acting on each other at a distance was to exotic and smacked of the supernatural.

Dave, I think that what Martin is hinting at is that your use of your "Occam's Razor" test works well for you except when it might go against your naturalistic presuppositions and then they trump the Razor. :)
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« Reply #2349 on: Jun 21, 2017, 02:28PM »

I don't think I expressed myself clearly.

My main purpose was to say why I found it relatively easy to accept an 'exotic' ie supernatural explanation for things in the bible.

There were 2 reasons:
- its God's revelation to us and I'm not surprised that he uses 'exotic' means (signs, foretelling ...) to get our attention and to make the point that there are non-mundane issues at stake
- God does everything, even the stuff that looks mundane. He can do the exotic as easily as the mundane, so why be surprised when he throws a reverse swing in every now and then.

But there are a whole lot of related issues in there and I did tangent on to mentioning that things aren't often as simple as we first think,  But that wasn't Dave's point.
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« Reply #2350 on: Jun 21, 2017, 02:43PM »

Dave, I think that what Martin is hinting at is that your use of your "Occam's Razor" test works well for you except when it might go against your naturalistic presuppositions and then they trump the Razor. :)

Only if you're using the magic variable.
 
X + Y + MV = ∞
 
The most popular formulation by far:
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« Reply #2351 on: Jun 21, 2017, 05:42PM »

Its our version of the cosmological constant :)
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« Reply #2352 on: Jun 21, 2017, 06:00PM »

Ezekiel 7 text

Highlights

 - Now they're really in trouble

Summary

 - God tells Ezekiel that he will punish Israel for their abominations, without pity
 - Disaster will come after disaster.
 - their pride, violence and abominations have become so great that the day of their punishment has arrived
 - Their abundance and wealth will all disappear. Buyers and sellers will both mourn, and the sellers won't get back what they've sold.
 - The people are prepared for battle but won't be able to fight, since God's wrath is on them.
 - Destruction by the sword is outside the city, and pestilence and famine are inside.
 - The survivors will be left in the mountains, like doves fleeing their valley.
 - They'll grow weak in the knees and don sackcloth in repentance and shame.
 - Their wealth, which they used to create their idols, won't be of any use to them and they'll be forced to throw it away.
 - The invading Babylonians will seize that wealth and take it for booty.
 - God will turn away his face, so that the invaders can plunder and defile his own Temple.
 - The arrogant will find no peace and disaster will follow on disaster. The priests and prophets will be useless to the people.
 - The people will know that God is The Lord when he does to them according to their own judgements

Questions and Observations

1) There are 2 types of oracle so far:
  - one type is where God tells Ezekiel stuff and he writes it down. So far these have been judgements.
  - the other type is where Exekiel sees a vision (eg ch1) and recounts it.  This one has been a vision of God's court room
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« Reply #2353 on: Jun 21, 2017, 07:58PM »

Ezekiel 8 text

Highlights

 - visions of abominations

Summary

 - Date: 6/5/5. Ezekiel is sitting in front of Judah's elders. The hand of the Lord falls on Ezekiel.
 - He sees a figure with fiery loins and legs and an amber torso. Its hand reaches out and grabs Ezekiel by a lock of his hair, and the spirit of God brings him to Jerusalem in a vision.
 - It sits him down in front of the "image of jealousy" in the Temple. The glory of God looks the same way he saw it in Chapter 1
 - God shows Ezekiel this idolatrous "image of jealousy" but says, just wait, there's worse.
 - He tells Ezekiel to dig through the Temple's wall. Ezekiel digs through and sees a room with all kinds of animals and creeping things on the walls.
 - The elders of Israel are in the room, swinging incense and worshipping the evil images.
 - But God says there's still worse to come.
 - Next, he shows Ezekiel women weeping for the god Tammuz, and finally, twenty-five people all bowing down to the sun.
 - God says that the people won't stop with these abominations. They're also filling the land with violence and "putting the branch to their noses" .
 - God will bring wrath on them; groveling won't help one bit.

Questions and Observations

1) visions and words.  Multimedia!

2) The "image of jealosy" or abomination reminds me of the "abomination of desolation" that is described in Daniel 12, Matthew 24

3) I guess putting the branch to your nose would be kind of like thumbing your nose
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« Reply #2354 on: Jun 21, 2017, 10:15PM »

An expression of possible violence from the God of the Christians?

No way!!!

Religion is not violent, is it?



I've not been following this since the early submissions regarding Genesis.  Sorry for the sudden interjection.
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« Reply #2355 on: Jun 22, 2017, 01:21AM »

Hey BillO, nice to meet you.

Glad you could drop in.

If you hadn't been following since Genesis, you've missed a lot of violence.  And good stuff too.
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« Reply #2356 on: Jun 22, 2017, 02:10AM »

I'm wondering why Ezekiel decided to write what he did to the exiles in Babylon?  The exiles would have been in a pluralistic society that had idols, values and world views that would have competed with Yahweh.  Sounds like today. The message of being faithful to Yahweh seems to fit strongly with your i).  Given that idolatry didn't seem to be a problem after the exile, it seemed to have been successful.  Would this have been the case if Ezekiel's predictions hadn't been accepted as accurate and reliable?  (They may have stopped overtly worshipping other gods/idols but that didn't mean that they were particularly faithful to Yahweh.) 

I've sat down three times now to write some stuff in reply to this about Judaism moving from polytheism to monotheism and how the exile related to this. How Yahweh-worshippers won out, basically - what influences went into the change. But three times I've abandoned the effort, becoming daunted by the scale of the topic, its ill-documentedness, and my patchy knowledge of it. So I think I'll have to abdicate it for now, in the interests of not holding up my thread participation... Sorry.

I nearly forgot this. I wanted to explain how I see things.  I think I understand why you don't understand. You're a material sort of guy.  We or at least I, on the other hand, believe that the God of the bible exists, that he created everything and that everything that happens, whether mundane or exotic, is God's activity.  So whether or not we can identify a mechanical explanation for something, its not a problem to see a spiritual explanation to it. 

(Aside: And he knows what is going to happen either because he is out of time and can see it everything at once, or because he knows what he's going to do.) 

I understand that the bible is God's revelation to us, so its expected that things that it talks about will have special significance, regardless whether they are seen as mundane or not.

I also note that the scientific explanation of gravity and other non-supernatural physical phenomena are far from mundane.  Any one for some quantum mechanics before breakfast?  Entanglement is so not mundane isn't it.  (But I know science didn't skip the easy obvious explanation and go straight for the right one, like you're complaining about for these prophecies.)

'Mundane' is perhaps a misleading term for me to have used; it has two meanings, as the dictionary tells us:

1. lacking interest or excitement; dull.
2. of this earthly world rather than a heavenly or spiritual one.

My intended meaning is the second one, with a vaguely-humorously-meant allusion to the first signposted by the use of the word 'exotic' in contrast, intended to make the reader compare the two meanings and wonder what the reason was that the word developed both. Things proceeding in easily-seen ways from known physical principles that have proven consistent with reality. That doesn't preclude the principles and mechanisms being difficult ones for the human brain to get itself around. If you've established that something a bit weird-seeming happens, then it becomes valid to use it in one's thinking.

The difference between us is that you think that 'God did it' is already well established as both a principle and a mechanism. So you add that to your list of candidate possibilities.

So I'm just pointing out that the simple mundane explanation is often not right, and my perspective facilitates our not being biased to exclude a spiritual cause for events.  And it also allows me to express this so that it sounds like we're not biased like you :)

Ref 'mundane' above.

On a slight tangent, I've read that many people rejected Newton's idea of gravity because the idea of objects acting on each other at a distance was to exotic and smacked of the supernatural.

Indeed! Did you know that this aspect is not yet fully resolved?

But - and here's the important difference separating the 'faithy' mindset - it's okay to admit that. It's a strength to do so. We note the question as an important one to continue working on, while also noting that Newton's theory (and Einstein's later refinement) describe what we observe incredibly well.
But I've abandoned it three times on grounds of it being a huge and ill-documented topic that I don't understand well enough, and it's holding up my other participation in the thread. So I'll abdicate it, I think, for now... Sorry.
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« Reply #2357 on: Jun 22, 2017, 02:50AM »

Dave, I think that what Martin is hinting at is that your use of your "Occam's Razor" test works well for you except when it might go against your naturalistic presuppositions and then they trump the Razor. :)

So no, as Martin says, this wasn't what he was saying, or hinting at. Reading between the lines on the internet, even with humour, is truly a fraught art apt to go wrong on every occasion.

If I might attempt a slightly barbed observation... Martin's words are a whole lot easier to interpret than those of the Christian Bible... Sorry, that was perhaps unfair...

John, could you lay out for me exactly what you think my presuppositions are? I have a feeling that they may not be exactly what you are assuming... I guess we could get back into the strand I mentioned in my reply to Martin above, if it helps:

This is a basic problem of human recording. All events are filtered through the perception of the recorder, no matter how objective they strive to be. But that doesn't mean that objectivity isn't worth the effort, despite the attempts of some to line up attempted objectivity and passionately embraced subjectivity as equivalent - we touched on this a few pages back with John pointing out that being scientific is not some kind of philosophical perfection as if that invalidated the worth of striving to get closer to reliability. I ran out of time to reply to that strand - but that observation was the core of my next reply that never got written.
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« Reply #2358 on: Jun 22, 2017, 03:19AM »

I've not been following this since the early submissions regarding Genesis.  Sorry for the sudden interjection.

No apology needed; the more the merrier.

Would you care to oblige us with a chapter summary?
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« Reply #2359 on: Jun 22, 2017, 03:28AM »

Ezekiel 8 text

 - Date: 6/5/5.

i.e. 592 BC, a year after the first prophecy.

- Next, he shows Ezekiel women weeping for the god Tammuz, and finally, twenty-five people all bowing down to the sun.

Tammuz is a deity that we haven't heard of in these books before. Apparently the Babylonian god of agriculture.

We see from Ezekiel's description how non-uniform religious worship was in his society - or at least we see how frightened the Yahwists were of other religious traditions.
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