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HolyGround >> Can a Perfect God be supported in the Torah (OT)?


6/5/13 3:30 PM
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770mdm
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It's very difficult to conclude God is perfect in the Torah.  For example, it seems unlikely that God can be both perfectly powerful and perfectly good if the world is filled (as it obviously is) with instances of terrible injustice. Similarly, it’s hard to see how God can wield his infinite power to instigate alteration and change in all things if he is flat-out immutable.

it’s hard to find any evidence that the prophets and scholars who wrote the Hebrew Bible (or “Old Testament”) thought of God in this way at all. The God of Hebrew Scripture is not depicted as immutable, but repeatedly changes his mind about things (for example, he regrets having made man). He is not all-knowing, since he’s repeatedly surprised by things (like the Israelites abandoning him for a statue of a cow). He is not perfectly powerful either, in that he famously cannot control Israel and get its people to do what he wants.

As Donald Harman Akenson writes, the God of Hebrew Scripture is meant to be an “embodiment of what is, of reality” as we experience it. God’s abrupt shifts from action to seeming indifference and back, his changing demands from the human beings standing before him, his at-times devastating responses to mankind’s deeds and misdeeds — all these reflect the hardship so often present in the lives of most human beings.

The ancient Israelites, in other words, discovered a more realistic God than that descended from the tradition of Greek thought. But philosophers have tended to steer clear of such a view, no doubt out of fear that an imperfect God would not attract mankind’s allegiance. Instead, they have preferred to speak to us of a God consisting of a series of sweeping idealizations — idealizations whose relation to the world in which we actually live is scarcely imaginable.  (Paraphrased from the works of Yoram Hazony - An Imperfect God.

6/6/13 9:21 AM
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Kung Fu Joe
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Very interesting read! Thanks!

You can definitely see a clear progression and evolution of the understanding of God's nature from the earliest Israelite writings through to the Jewish works of the 1st Century BCE, then refined and altered even more by Christians from the 1st Century CE through to today.

There are even remnants of polytheism to be found even in the texts remaining to us: the plurality of Elohim, discussion of the "sons of god," the nearly divine nature of cherubim, et cetera. Phone Post
6/12/13 1:14 AM
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RoidsGracie
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Clearly polytheism was known and practiced by the Jews in ancient times, hence all the references of the Israelites constantly turning away from God and worshiping the pagan gods of their region. If this was not a common practice, then there would have been no need for the repeated condemnation of it.

Wasn't there a rabbi that wrote a book about how God isn't omnipotent about a decade back? I believe the book talked about God actually is not able to prevent all the evil in the world.
6/12/13 8:09 AM
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770mdm
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Interesting - let me know if you remember the author or title of the book.  Thanks

6/13/13 2:11 PM
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RoidsGracie
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I found the title and author of the book - Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold S. Kushner. He is a rabbi from the conservative wing of Judaism.
6/17/13 6:23 PM
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jrrrrr
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I'm not sure if its a question that god does not know what is going to happen as needing us to see what happens.

Abraham needed to know that he was willing to kill Isaac and that allowed god to intercede and tell him not to.

He needed Moses to know what he was involved with when the hebrews built the calf even after seeing all the miracles that god had performed.

When our parents say not to do something, how many of us do it anyway...
6/18/13 12:36 AM
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770mdm
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I'm not sure if its a question that god does not know what is going to happen as needing us to see what happens.

I'd agree.  It's a conclusion we make but the text itself isn't validating this notion.  I'm on the fence here. 


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