• Agent Smith
    4.4k
    You're the best! — Hillary

    ...of the worst! :snicker:
  • Moses
    58
    My resort to the Bible for wisdom has nothing to do with delusions that God himself spoke it while Moses transcribed it.Hanover


    I don't even know what that would look like. Do you believe that God ever spoke to Moses? If not, do you believe that Moses existed?

    If the book is a work of fiction then the authors possess moral insight beyond the current day. It's fascinating how they juxtapose insanely good, progressive moral insight (especially for ~800 BCE) with something incomprehensible. For example God holds King David accountable for Uriah the Hittite's death (this is very sophisticated moral insight, especially for antiquity to hold a king accountable for such a relatively minor infraction) but the punishment is the death of his unborn son. It's just this balance of brilliancy with incomprehensibility which makes this an insane work of fiction. Other cultures choose warriors and princes as their heroes, Jews take a guy with a speech impediment who gets help from his priest brother and the two make a decent team. I also love how it begins with such a strong supernatural element in the Torah but if you read past that things slowly become more "normal" until you reach the ~6th century BC and by around that time you're just into historical accounts like Ezra-Nehemia. I can't quite pinpoint where things turn "normal" and that's what fascinates me. King David straddles this line.

    Morality is generally regarded as something one "either has or doesn't have", not something that can be learned (psychopaths/sociopaths "learn" morality, but it's not a natural part of who they are).baker


    This is not how the Bible describes morality (at least the OT). If you read the OT it basically just tells you to follow the rules. Doesn't matter who you are or how nice you are - follow the rules, be good, don't be bad. Simple. Obey God. You can sometimes question or argue with him. The bible doesn't care what people label themselves as or what their demons are or whatever; do this, don't do that. That's morality for ya.
  • Hanover
    8.1k
    If the book is a work of fiction then the authors possess moral insight beyond the current day. IMoses

    It is a work of fiction. That's just the case.

    Biblical interpretation is based upon thousands of years of interpretation following the final editing of the Bible, much of which is based upon an "oral tradition" that is largely a made up back story for the Torah. Then add to that the highly creative midrash method of interpretation, and you can pretty much derive whatever you need it to say. None of this is to suggest that Biblical interpretation is in constant flux because most traditions rely heavily upon prior interpretations.
  • Moses
    58
    It is a work of fiction. That's just the case.Hanover

    How about book of ezra? book of nehemiah? do you believe that the babylonian exile happened? do you believe nebuchadnezzar existed? i don't currently believe in oral tradition/"the oral torah."

    and by believe i don't mean 100% true, i just mean that it can be considered as a reliable/reasonable historic account. let's start with our benchmarks and go from there because nebuchadnezzar does mention at least one hebrew king.
  • Ennui Elucidator
    455
    For what it is worth, I recently attended a wedding of an early Christian scholar/academic that was officiated by a scholar/academic of ancient Judaism. The wedding itself had many traditional Jewish elements, but the interesting part was that god/god talk was reduced to (or introduced as) the context in which we talk about meaning making/value. Like actual practiced/lived religion includes people (religious laity) that are fully aware of the what god is about and knowingly engage with it on that level. For all of the hand waving from armchairs certain sorts of people do, in actual practice religion is moving on from "belief" in "god" as a requirement/expectation/central focus.

    It would, on my view, be an act of petulance to insist that the wedding was non-religious because no one there was concerned about beardy-head. Not just can the concept of religion include religious communities that traditionally did not include god worship/belief, but it can also include religions that have changed from including it to not including it. Essentializing concepts is as silly as essentalizing discrete words.
  • Hanover
    8.1k
    How about book of ezra? book of nehemiah? do you believe that the babylonian exile happened? do you believe nebuchadnezzar existed? i don't currently believe in oral tradition/"the oral torah."

    and by believe i don't mean 100% true, i just mean that it can be considered as a reliable/reasonable historic account. let's start with our benchmarks and go from there because nebuchadnezzar does mention at least one hebrew king.
    Moses

    I believe the entire work is selling a point of view, namely of the heroic tales of the Hebrew people. Whether there are moments of accuracy, I don't know, and I don't think it's terribly important. Recording history for the sake of accuracy is a modern phenomenon.
  • Moses
    58


    Have you read the OT cover to cover?

    If the OT is propaganda for the Israelites, why is a good portion of the OT prophesying destruction for the Israelites because they've strayed from God? Why are most of the kings described as bad/evil kings? The kingdom of israel constantly looks bad, and Judah is only marginally better. If you were to say that it's God propaganda I would agree with you.
  • Hanover
    8.1k
    It would, on my view, be an act of petulance to insist that the wedding was non-religious because no one there was concerned about beardy-head.Ennui Elucidator

    I'd consider it an act of petulance to insist a theistic religious service was atheistic because no one was concerned about beardy-head, largely because I do not believe in a corporeal deity, so i would think the physical description misplaced and somewhat mocking.

    Not just can the concept of religion include religious communities that traditionally did not include god worship/belief, but it can also include religions that have changed from including it to not including it.Ennui Elucidator

    I hear you saying that belief in god is not part of your religion. What belief is part of your religion? What view should I hold to be able to preach from your pulpit?
  • Hanover
    8.1k
    If the OT is propaganda for the Israelites, why is a good portion of the OT prophesying destruction for the Israelites because they've strayed from God? Why are most of the kings described as bad/evil kings? The kingdom of israel constantly looks bad, and Judah is only marginally better. If you were to say that it's God propaganda I would agree with you.Moses

    Actually one way to decipher authorship is to look at who is being made to look best, so if the Northern Kingdom is looking bad, you might suspect someone from Judah wrote it. But sure, God's constant interaction with the Hebrews is what the saga is about.

    If you're trying to argue from the text that it must be true else why would it be written as it is (or something along those lines), I'm really not biting. The Torah is a book or many sources sewn together over thousands of years. I don't really see that as a point of contention outside fundamentalist circles.
  • Moses
    58
    If you're trying to argue from the text that it must be true else why would it be written as it is (or something along those lines), I'm really not biting.Hanover


    Ok, we agree the Babylonian exile happened? so when the Babylonian exile ended in 538 bc the jews went back to Jerusalem and rebuilt it. that's basically ezra-nehemiah. there is no divine intervention. most of it is boring details like who helped rebuild what. a ton of the text is genealogies. there's a political conflict with the arabs.

    you don't start with the torah, that's no fun. you start the other way and ask yourself when exactly do things become supernatural/unbelievable.

    But sure, God's constant interaction with the Hebrews is what the saga is about.Hanover

    sure, and the tl;dr of it being follow god, don't be disobedient. anytime the Israelites stray they get hit. sometimes the prophets will go into detail about the practices; one i remember was 'father and son sharing woman' and they mention cannibalism and child sacrifice. worshipping other gods is among the worst crimes; don't you dare abandon our value system.
  • Ennui Elucidator
    455
    i would think the physical description misplaced and somewhat mocking.Hanover

    The mocking was towards those that think modern religious folk actually care about beardy head. Like 2,000 years ago they may have had a point, but I'm pretty sure everyone is in agreement since about 1,000 CE or so that god is non-corporeal. Regardless, whatever view the anti-religious have about what god of necessity looks like for theists, it is wrong.

    What belief is part of your religion?Hanover

    Good old orthodoxy vs. orthopraxy in a modern form. Take the thirteen principles of faith and flush them (it was heretical in its own time). In general, you don't have to believe anything to preach from my pulpit - you just need to not be too much of an asshole and not cross certain lines in the sand, e.g. women are inferior or racism is cool. The issue is not so much what you say, but a) is it interesting (or perhaps is it said by the right sort of person) and b) within the scope of the context of the preaching? So if you want to come in and preach about how you should believe in Vishnu, you'd probably not be invited back, but people might listen intently to the parts that are presented well. In any event, no one polls the audience at the end to ask what any individual audience members believes or what the community has decided is dogma.

    My religion is unabashedly about the community and the community's language. Within that language, there is room for discussion about virtually anything. The leadership/people deciding who gets pulpit time are greatly inclined towards particular sorts of language and topics, but if you can make the case that what you have to say is valuable (or at least likely to be valuable) to the community, you can probably get a chance to say it. You may, however, have to speak during non-prime time and do all of your own arranging/advertising/etc. if insufficient people are interested in helping you.
  • Banno
    16.9k
    So this thread has retreated to the shallow water of biblical exegesis, trivialising the issue, reducing the conversation from being about humanity to the concerns of one odd arabic tribe.

    As if there were only one sort of religion.

    Earlier we (...I...) got to the point of listing ritual, transcendence and hope as central to the notion of religion.

    The question then was why science does not count as a religion, since may invoke all three. The reply was that science failed to address the transcendent; a far too limited perspective on who scientists are and what they do.

    I blame Moses. To much reliance on legislation.
  • Ennui Elucidator
    455
    Earlier we (...I...) got to the point of listing ritual, transcendence and hope as central to the notion of religion.Banno

    You can list lots of things and then ask what qualifies, but the easy answer is that science is not a religion because that isn’t how we use the word or understand the concept. Science (or at least the natural sciences) is the systematic study of the natural world - religion is not. The aim of those doing religion and those doing science are not the same. One can study religion, but that is not doing religion. One can study science, but that is not doing science.

    Sure, the scope of what people doing science broaches on some of the same topics as religion, but science strikes as being instrumental rather than meaning making. Merely doing ritual (keeping a lab notebook, reading the journals, cleaning your beakers) and being aware of the potential for limitless time and space (transcendence) doesn’t get you to religion. Hoping for something doesn’t get you there either.

    Science, to the extent that it creates meaning in a communal/institutional way comes awfully close. There is indoctrination, dogma, shared values, broadly understood goals, etc. None of that, however, is science or doing science in the abstract.
  • Banno
    16.9k
    Whatever. This all kinda missed the point.
  • Hanover
    8.1k
    That sounds like a hip coffee shop with a liberal vibe, where you can talk about pretty much anything on the Democratic platform, avoiding Trump, pro-life, and border walls I'm guessing.

    The label of "religion" seems important for your religion, where you object if someone degrades you to less than a religion and calls you a Saturday meet up group, right?

    I'll concede too much energy is expended over labels and the fight over form and not substance is a wasteful one, so I'll grant yours is also a bona fide "religion" if that brings greater joy, but, really, the distance between you, and say the Satmar, is such a vast sea, it's odd to think you fall in the same category.

    To psycholoanalyze (why not, right?), yours appears a struggle to preserve tradition without having to acknowledge faith and a demand that yours is as authentically religious as theirs.
  • Hanover
    8.1k
    The question then was why science does not count as a religion, since may invoke all three.Banno

    Because science doesn't address the ought.
  • Jackson
    938
    Because science doesn't address the ought.Hanover

    Yes, the how but not why.
  • Ennui Elucidator
    455
    As you well know, I will beat a long since dead horse. You let me know the point if you still want to discuss it and I will do my best to not miss it. So far as I could tell, we were trying to figure out an anchored polythetic definition, maybe get your own list of anchor ideas, and then see where that gets us. But I've been wrong before.


    . . .

    This strategy gives rise to a third kind of polythetic approach, one that stipulates that one property (or one set of properties) is required. Call this an “anchored” polythetic definition. Consistently treating concepts as tools, Wittgenstein suggests this “anchored” idea when he writes that when we look at the history of a concept,

    what we see is something constantly fluctuating … [but we might nevertheless] set over against this fluctuation something more fixed, just as one paints a stationary picture of the constantly altering face of the landscape. (1974: 77)

    Given a stipulated “anchor”, a concept will then possess a necessary property, and this property reintroduces essentialism. Such a definition nevertheless still reflects a polythetic approach because the presence of the required property is not sufficient to make something a religion. To illustrate this strategy, one might stipulate that the only forms of life one will consider a religion will include

    (A)
    a belief in superempirical beings or powers

    (thereby excluding nationalism and capitalism, for example), but the presence of this property does not suffice to count this form of life as a religion. Consider the properties set introduced above that also includes

    (B)
    ethical norms,
    (C)
    worship rituals,
    (D)
    participation believed to bestow benefits on participants, and
    (E)
    those who participate in this form of life see themselves as a distinct community.

    If the threshold number is still three, then to be a religion, a form of life would have to have three of these properties, one of which must be (A). An anchored definition of religion like this would have the benefits of the other polythetic definitions. For example, it would not produce a clear line between religion and nonreligion but would instead articulate gradations between different forms of life (or between versions of one form of life at different times) that are less or more prototypically religious. However, given its anchor, it would produce a more focused range of cases.[15] In this way, the use of an anchor might both reflect the contemporary cosmological view of the concept religion and also address the criticism that polythetic approaches make a concept too vague.

    . . .
    — SEP on Concept of Religion

    It strikes me as curious that the SEP decided to publish an article on the "concept" of religion. Unsurprisingly, that article is mostly about the nature of conceptualisation, analysed through a systematic account of definition. It's effectively an article about definition, using religion as it's example. As such it attempts to systematise Wittgenstein's notion of family resemblance, a fraught task which misses the point; some (most) terms are useful despite not being definable in such an explicit fashion.

    So two things of note: the first, that it is no surprise that the article fails to explicitly define religion; the second, that religion centres on practice rather than on creed.
    Banno


    . . . As if the writer of the article, or the other folk who posted here, or I, did not think "what we need are the essential characteristics..."

    The point is to determine what they are.
    — Banno


    Here's a topic!

    I think this a too narrow notion of science. Science is, for many if not most scientists, a spiritual practice, a way of transcending their self by achieving an understanding of the world. The rituals of bottle washing and statistical analysis are part of a far bigger picture, they have a place within a great enterprise that has as it's goal the comprehension of reality itself. How is that not much the same as your circles in circles?

    The scientists innermost reality may be washing bottles, the outermost may be understanding our place within the cosmos. Their innermost selfhood their concentration on the lifecycle of some parasitic worm, their outermost, why things are as they are.
    — Banno

    . . .

    So a family resemblance can be put in disjunctive normal form, but is extensible or retractible, changing the criteria with use.
    — Banno
  • Ennui Elucidator
    455
    We can reduce any composite to some component and then describe/define the composite by the component's relationship to other stuff. Sure, it is fun and all, but since the group meets on more than just Saturdays (and the Saturday meetings are not even the primary way that most of the members engage with the group), calling it a Saturday meetup group is rather unhelpful when trying to place the group into a conceptual bucket.

    The difference between the proto-Jews engaged in 400 BCE practice and the Satmars is vast - it seems strange to call them both a religion (or Jews). To my knowledge, however, one doesn't have to be a Satmar to be religious or a member of a religion. I'm not exactly sure what help the Satmar provide here except to say that the Satmar look sufficiently religious to you that anything that doesn't obviously strike you as Satmar like isn't religion. I guess if that is your starting point (contra actual use of the term "religion") I don't have much to say. Yes - virtually no one looks like the Satmar.

    The argument isn't about whether my religion is as authentically religious as theirs (after all, I am not arguing for any notion of authenticity), but whether the concept of religion allows someone to assess whether a particular usage of the word is "wrong."


    . . .

    In the academic study of religions, discussions of monothetic and polythetic approaches have primarily been in service of developing a definition of the term.[13] How can alternate definitions of religion be assessed? If one were to offer a lexical definition (that is, a description of what the term means in common usage, as with a dictionary definition), then the definition one offers could be shown to be wrong. In common usage, for example, Buddhism typically is considered a religion and capitalism typically is not. On this point, some believe erroneously that one can correct a definition by pointing to some fact about the referents of the term. One sees this assumption, for example, in those who argue that the western discovery of Buddhism shows that theistic definitions of religion are wrong (e.g., Southwold 1978: 367). One can correct a real or lexical definition in this way, but not a stipulative definition, that is, a description of the meaning that one assigns to the term. When one offers a stipulative definition, that definition cannot be wrong. Stipulative definitions are assessed not by whether they are true or false but rather by their usefulness, and that assessment will be purpose-relative (cf. Berger 1967: 175). De Muckadell (2014) rejects stipulative definitions of religion for this reason, arguing that one cannot critique them and that they force scholars simply to “accept whatever definition is offered”. She gives the example of a problematic stipulative definition of religion as “ice-skating while singing” which, she argues, can only be rejected by using a real definition of religion that shows the ice-skating definition to be false. However, even without knowing the real essence of religion, one can critique a stipulative definition, either for being less adequate or appropriate for a particular purpose (such as studying forms of life across cultures) or, as with the ice-skating example, for being so far from a lexical definition that it is adequate or appropriate for almost no purpose.
    — SEP on the Concept of Religion

    The particular argument of whether one sect of Judaism or another is the true expression of Judaism is entirely aside from why I mentioned what I did. I simply pointed to an actual practice of people engaged in what was pretty undeniably a religious act. To look at that occasion and say "that was not religion" seems (at least to me) to require an awful lot of intellectual gymnastics and outright bad faith. Whether the Satmars are actually Jews given their anti-zionist stance isn't the least bit instructive on whether something that for all intents and purposes looks like a religious ceremony ceases to be one merely because it is explicitly existential/absurdist.

    The psychoanalysis is not really about why some people engaged in religious practice see themselves as being religious or their group a religion, but why it is so important to you that they either aren't a religion or, if they are, it is only begrudgingly the case. It is not so different than why it is important for scientists (and science generally) to be inside or outside of the "religion" bubble. What does the term "religion" do that makes definitive inclusion/exclusion so important to people?

    Use of the term doesn't change what people are actually doing. It may influence what they do going forward, but "naming" doesn't do magic and suddenly render something with some characteristic that it didn't have before (or remove some characteristic that it did have). I know the law sort of perverts the notion of language as non-magical (things can be lawful or not with significant future consequence riding on that determination), but what social structures are implicated by deciding that something is religion?
  • Ennui Elucidator
    455
    That sounds like a hip coffee shop with a liberal vibe, where you can talk about pretty much anything on the Democratic platform, avoiding Trump, pro-life, and border walls I'm guessing.Hanover

    While I get the sentiment of this comment, I imagine you know how off base it is. You can discuss any of those things as long as you don't attack the fundamental dignity/equality of actual people. There are members of the group that voted for Trump (both times) and support border walls. There are also anti-women/choice folk in the mix. Sure, we are communally more protective of certain groups and more explicitly inclusive of certain groups, but we are not just some Democratic support group by another name. Modern religion and the Democrats are not synonymous. It may be that Democrats have some of the same values as certain liberal religious communities, but that is no different than Democrats having some of the same values as certain conservative religious communities. As it turns out, the same people can be both members of a religion with particular values and members of a political party with particular values. Those communities can even be in conversation with one another by way of their mutual members.

    Modern religion is both older than the current state of political affairs in the US and is more geographically diverse than citizens of the US. I'm not sure why being an American in conversation with an Australian invites reducing the conversation to just American concerns/ideologies/etc. Religions, being religious, etc. writ large do not require a particular political allegiance. Yes, some religions fit better with particular sorts of political ideas than others, but that coincidence does not indicate something essential about religion or politics collectively.
  • Hanover
    8.1k
    Use of the term doesn't change what people are actually doing. It may influence what they do going forward, but "naming" doesn't do magic and suddenly render something with some characteristic that it didn't have before (or remove some characteristic that it did have). I know the law sort of perverts the notion of language as non-magical (things can be lawful or not with significant future consequence riding on that determination), but what social structures are implicated by deciding that something is religion?Ennui Elucidator

    I agree with this, and I also don't mean anything pejorative to call a group non-religious. Framed this way, this conversation becomes a purely esoteric linguistic argument that invokes discussions about usage, context, essences, and prescriptive usages, but we would be limited within that esoteric context where none of this actually matters. In other words, this is pure philosophical navel gazing.

    If someone commits to a prescriptive use of the term "religious" to require the existence of a deity and that negates your atheistic group from being a religion, but makes it more akin to a fraternal organization, I wouldn't consider that reclassification a relegation, but just placement into a separate category.

    My misread (if there were one) occurred when you referenced those who might refuse to consider your group a religion as being petulant. That seemed to me to mean that how you were classified mattered on some social level. For example, if you wish to call my SUV a car and not a truck, I really don't care, unless you mean to say that car drivers are lesser than truck drivers.

    Maybe I missed the point. To the question, is your group a religion? It's like anything else. It depends upon how you mean to use "religion." Sometimes it might be, sometimes not. As to @Banno's question whether science is a religion, same answer. Regardless of the answer, though, I don't think you can say anything more from that, as if to suggest the scientifically minded are at all like the religiously minded in other contexts simply because we found a way to sort them into the same bucket in a particularized instance.

    I spent a few hours yesterday trying to determine whether a person were an "insured" under a particular insurance policy, which, of course provided its own set of definitions and exclusions. At the end of the analysis, I think reached a correct conclusion, but I wouldn't suggest that the person would have been an "insured" under a policy with differing language, and the question would have been even more uncertain had I been interpreting the term "insured" from common everyday usage and not from pre-defined terms. Whether the person would have been an "insured" in varying contexts means nothing though in terms of who that person is.
  • Ennui Elucidator
    455
    when you referenced those who might refuse to consider your group a religion as being petulant.Hanover

    The point there was that there are usage conventions that can be gestured to even if not well defined. It would be like someone saying that a game of soccer is not a game of soccer because the ball was wrong (too big, too small, not quite round, not the right pressure, etc.), the field inappropriate (not on grass, wrong dimensions, etc.), players wrongly constituted (number, positions, etc.), and governed by incorrect rules (no offside, no strict boundaries, etc.). Like all of that can be true, and still a group of kids kicking a ball around and scoring by shooting through two garbage cans qualifies as soccer. The same is true if a kid is playing FIFA on her TV - not actually soccer as envisioned but never-the-less a game of soccer. At some point, if you are dealing in good faith in conversation you simply acknowledge the obvious - that people are using a word in a way not quite like you might have imagined, but sufficiently within the ballpark that its use is more informative than misleading.

    Or perhaps differently, it is ultimately a language community's judgment that decides which usage endures and/or is acceptable regardless of a particular individual's willingness to accept it.
  • Moses
    58


    Interesting difference in our positions though. You say that you have no delusions that God communicated the Torah to Moses on Sinai. My position I think is even more skeptical; I don't know what such a thing would look like. If we were with Moses on Sinai and heard a booming voice coming down from the clouds would that be God? Maybe we're delusional? Or maybe it's not God? I don't know what it means to talk to God.

    As for the texts could there a bias towards Judah and against the kingdom of Israel? Sure, but that's not particularly important to me. I guess I just don't understand why someone would go through such lengths to write historical fiction/lies about an event that actually happened and that they were presumably there for. Do you hold this level of skepticism for other historical accounts? When we find ancient greek texts about e.g. the construction of a public place like a library or a temple do you just assume it to be lies? I get that you can doubt the supernatural but a good portion of the bible is not supernatural, and often when they mention the supernatural it's about praying or seeking guidance, not direct divine intervention.

    @Banno you could say that Hanover and I are playing the God language game now (Judeo-Christian edition.) I don't disagree with the conclusions you reached in the OP.
  • Hanover
    8.1k
    You say that you have no delusions that God communicated the Torah to Moses on Sinai. My position I think is even more skeptical; I don't know what such a thing would look like. If we were with Moses on Sinai and heard a booming voice coming down from the clouds would that be God? Maybe we're delusional? Or maybe it's not God? I don't know what it means to talk to God.Moses

    I haven't entertained the possibility sufficiently enough to ask myself what it would be like to talk directly to God. It would be like asking me to actually consider what it would be like if Winnie the Pooh were a non-fictional book and that would lead me to start contemplating what it would be like to interact with a sullen talking donkey.
    I guess I just don't understand why someone would go through such lengths to write historical fiction/lies about an event that actually happened and that they were presumably there for. Do you hold this level of skepticism for other historical accounts? When we find ancient greek texts about e.g. the construction of a public place like a library or a temple do you just assume it to be lies?Moses

    You're imposing a modern standard of historical reporting upon ancient civilizations. The idea of seeking objective truth cleansed of bias with all sources checked and verified is a modern scholarly ideal which suggests a virtue in recording truth for truth's sake. There is nothing particularly virtuous, however, about maintaining historical accuracy above all else, especially when the writer never pretended to be doing that and the reader never expected it. That is, none of these ancient writers were lying in that they intended to fool anyone and none of the readers were fooled because they knew the intent of the writers.

    What I'm saying is largely accepted, which is that we can't trust the historical accuracy of ancient texts, but that has nothing to do with our ancestors being liars.

    For more on this, see https://www.historynet.com/can-trust-ancient-texts/
  • Moses
    58
    It would be like asking me to actually consider what it would be like if Winnie the Pooh were a non-fictional book and that would lead me to start contemplating what it would be like to interact with a sullen talking donkey.Hanover


    It's not hard for me to imagine myself talking with e.g. a donkey or winnie the pooh. If you told me that you talked with God I would have questions. I don't know what talking with God would be like or how I would know it was him.

    The idea of seeking objective truth cleansed of bias with all sources checked and verified is a modern scholarly ideal which suggests a virtue in recording truth for truth's sake.Hanover

    This discussion is getting too broad and we would need to go book by book for me to add my input. I can't meaningfully comment. Many of the books are not meant to be historical accounts, some are poems and others advice. In my previous post I was only talking about Ezra-Nehemiah which is the most historical/non-divine of all the books.

    Sure the writer might be biased and sure we can keep this in mind when reading it. When you're reading with the bigger picture in mind questions like whether a writer favored Judah over the northern kingdom can be considered, but this should hardly be the main focus unless we're simply reading for history. I mostly read for ideas, not for explicit details about things. In any case neither judah or the northern kingdom comes out unscathed; both places are very evil at some point. the book makes sure to let the reader know that the israelites are far from saints and that they're not inherently morally better than their neighbors (Aish HaTorah ought to take note.) a lot of the lessons are very sound and applicable.

    Some of the battlefield casualty number seem absurdly high (120k in a day). One passage mentioned martial law, scorched earth tactics, psychological warfare...and this is around 730 BCE in a battle vs the Assyrians (2 Chronicles) that presumably also has Assyrian sources behind it. It's not that I uncritically accept everything but certain ideas can really resonate and astound me that ancient writers were able to capture.
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