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HolyGround >> Literal Vs. figurative parts of the bible?


9/20/10 9:43 AM
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RamK
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Looking for opinions:

Ancient near east writing style and political bravado included the use figurative language, so I'm wondering how people approach it.

Specifically, I was reading about Joshua and the language used to describe massacre after defeating native people in canaan. The author talked about the use of metaphor and that for the most part this was nothing more than political grandstanding. For evidence he pointed out that canaanites continued to exist among the people, and that directly after the description of the complete destruction of those people there are commandments not to intermarry with them.

How do you look at this?
9/20/10 5:20 PM
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Ridgeback
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RamK - Looking for opinions:

Ancient near east writing style and political bravado included the use figurative language, so I'm wondering how people approach it.

Specifically, I was reading about Joshua and the language used to describe massacre after defeating native people in canaan. The author talked about the use of metaphor and that for the most part this was nothing more than political grandstanding. For evidence he pointed out that canaanites continued to exist among the people, and that directly after the description of the complete destruction of those people there are commandments not to intermarry with them.

How do you look at this?

 Hyperbole is fairly common among primarily oral cultures.  It is even pretty common in Third World countries where a typographic mindset has not really sunk in.   With the OT it is almost a moot point.  The early Christian fathers largely read the OT in allegorical ways in relation to Christ.  The modern concept of the fundamentalist literalist as we have in the US just isn't there.  I think reading something literally means reading it according to genre, convention, and the discourse community of the day. On the other hand, I think scripture can take on a second meaning that is not readily apparent to the author or the primary audience. This is why Jesus had to teach his disciples the second sense of scripture that pointed to him.  If it was readily apparent then this would not have been necessary.  

But yes I agree that what might be read as total genocide by a modern reader may have just been a colorful way of describing a military victory.  
9/20/10 9:58 PM
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martial_shadow
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Pardes, google it.
9/22/10 11:24 AM
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the rooster
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Good points by both of you.
9/25/10 1:10 PM
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zealot66
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 Ive said this before and its not new but the idea of writing History as we do in terms of historiography, detail and precision in recording incidents just didnt exist. I think the fact that Luke implies he is trying to put together something non literary and more historical points out that it was intended to be different. But even then, it was accepted practice to write with an unobjective eye.

I think one of the greatest blunders of fundamentalism in this area is in not recognizing apocalyptic literature such as Revelations as pure imagery and conveying a message of good vs evil rather than spelling out future events.
9/28/10 9:33 AM
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RamK
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Interesting, Then how do we differentiate between the different parts? Luke went out of his way to state that he was trying to be factual...what about other parts?
9/28/10 4:49 PM
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zealot66
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 Thats a long study. A lifetime. Cant give a one line answer to that. even if you believe in inerrancy.
9/28/10 9:10 PM
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reverend john
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well it appears I am not needed here

rev
10/5/10 9:53 AM
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RamK
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So was the same figurative language used when describing noah's ark?

was a flood that destroyed the whole earth or was it a flood that seemed huge to Noah?
10/5/10 11:05 AM
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Grakman
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RamK - So was the same figurative language used when describing noah's ark?

was a flood that destroyed the whole earth or was it a flood that seemed huge to Noah?

It would depend on who you asked of course; the fundamentalist Biblical literalist will say OF COURSE it was world wide! Others might say it was local, even others still might say the whole thing is metaphor. The problem with seeing it as metaphor though is that the apostles seemed to refer to it as a historical account, although even that interpretation is open to, er, interpretation.

One could focus on just the 'take home' message, but even then that would be open to interpretation. One could say that the message is God hates sin and will destroy it with natural forces if necessary, whether it's the local 'known world' or the entire world. Others might see the message of the Noah story as God eradicating sin through the water of regeneration which is a symbol of baptism in the NT.

There doesn't seem to be any doubt though that the story was taken seriously by the writers of the NT both as foreshadowing of God's judgment and his redemption of the righteous.

10/5/10 7:55 PM
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reverend john
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how do you know they thought of it as historic? If I know you are familiar with the story of Midas, I could very well discuss king midas with you, without once identifying it as a myth. I am not saying either way, but I do not think it is as cut and dry as people think.

rev
10/5/10 8:19 PM
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Grakman
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lol, are you nitpicking rev?

"The problem with seeing it as metaphor though is that the apostles seemed to refer to it as a historical account, although even that interpretation is open to, er, interpretation."

I think the whole point of my post was that it is not 'as cut and dry as people think'! lol

10/5/10 10:18 PM
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reverend john
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shut up

rev
10/5/10 10:31 PM
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Grakman
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 ^ lol I hope that's tongue in cheek rev!
10/7/10 1:07 PM
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RamK
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^Nerd fight
10/7/10 2:16 PM
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Grakman
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RamK - ^Nerd fight

 Nerds that TRANE UFC! WATCHOUT! lol

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