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This-essay is a9708092.htm which is available at the web-site See more notes at the bottom. Previous-Essay <== This-Essay ==> Following-Essay By-Months By-Years By-Words Webs of Like-&-Un-Like ESSAYS <==> Like-&-UN-Like This-One ========================================================== %LITERAL INTERPRETATIONS ANCIENT SCRIPTURES BIBLE 970809 Many people are inclined to interpret the scriptures of the Bible literally and to regard such interpretations as entirely adequate for fulfilling their God-given potentials in the present age. An open and honest consideration of such inclinations would look at how difficult it is to do so with integrity --- in the light of the following developments since the times the scriptures were first written down: 1. The planet Earth is now recognized as a sphere which orbits around the sun which is an average star; around which all the other planets also orbit. The concept of a "heaven" which is "above" the earth does not make the same kind of sense as it did when the scriptures were first written down. Earth is now recognized not to be the focus of the solar/stellar system. Our perspective of our place in the universe is radically different than that of long ago. 2. The age of planet Earth is now recognized to be about 4,500,000,000 years --- unimaginably longer than is implied by the accounts in the Bible. 3. There are now fairly detailed scientific accounts of the kinds of processes which have intervened between the coming into existence of the universe (by whatever means) and the present day --- and while there are some interesting parallels between the Biblical accounts and the scientific accounts, there are significant differences. 4. Refrigeration, chemical preservatives and nuclear radiation have made the physiological risks of eating pork far less than many other risks which are not forbidden in the Bible --- so injunctions against touching or eating pork are regarded as quaint and are regularly ignored without adverse health consequences. 5. Modern understandings of the roles of micro- organisms which play central roles in human diseases have rendered quaint many Biblical injunctions about human health and diseases --- so such injunctions are regularly ignored without adverse health consequences. 6. The traditions of making animal sacrifices upon alters with fire have all but totally died out --- so commandments related to the making of such sacrifices are virtually always ignored without adverse consequences. 7. Modern means of transportation which are far faster, more comfortable and safer than ancient means --- and have made Biblical injunctions about not traveling on the Sabbath seem quaint --- are rarely taken seriously. 8. Fathers are no longer the unchallenged rulers of their households and their daughters are no longer their unchallenged property to be given away as as fathers may be disposed to do --- so many injunctions about relationships between fathers and their daughters no longer make the same kind of sense today as they did long ago. 9. The lines between what activities are work and what are not work have become blurred --- and so it is difficult to take literally injunctions against working on the Sabbath and do so with personal and communal integrity. 10. The explosion of kinds of threads which can now be used in making clothing has rendered quaint the Biblical injunction against mixing threads in making clothing --- so it is regularly ignored without adverse consequences. 11. The democratic revolutions in the governing of most nations has radically changed the nature of the relationships between private citizens and the ruling powers --- making quaint the injunctions regarding the relationships between citizens and governments. 12. Most modern people do not live nomadic lives in deserts, so injunctions designed to deal with the problems and dilemmas of nomadic people are quaint to most modern people. Of course there are other relevant revolutionary changes between when the scriptures were first written down and today --- and many of them carry profound implications for interpreting with integrity what the ancient texts should mean to modern people. The texts were first written within one context, to address the situations faced by people within that context --- situations which no longer exists for many people today. Given that reality of modern life it is often quaint to try to interpret such texts literally---if not outright dishonest to try to do so. Of course many of the ancient scriptures still point to important truths which bear careful consideration and respect. It is dishonest, however, to pretend that all ancient scriptures can be interpreted literally with personal and communal integrity. (c) 2005 by Paul A. Smith in Search for Integrity and Honesty (On Being Yourself, Whole and Healthy) ==========================================================
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