• Possibility
    The Greek term ‘Logos’ does not translate directly to the English term ‘word’. It is more an expression of truth, encompassing logic, reason, opinion, account, discourse, etc.

    ‘The word’ is how humans communicate thoughts, feelings and subjective experience with others. It is one of the many ways that we express this truth of ourselves - encompassing how we interact with the universe.

    God, on the other hand, does not ‘express Himself’ through the written or spoken word, but through the unfolding universe itself, which is the expression of who/what God is - the ‘Logos’. We then experience that expression subjectively in various ways, and attempt to communicate it to others using words.

    I don’t think this is the opposite of what the Bible says at all. And I don’t think ‘the Word was God’ is necessarily the same as ‘God is the Word’ - but that’s another debate.

    God is certainly to be found in what we tell each other about our subjective experiences, but what we tell each other is only a part of our subjective experiences, and our subjective experiences only a part of God...
  • xyz-zyx
    I factor in that:
    A. God is most likely a human made up concept.

    B. The Bible was written in a time when people had absolutely no scientific knowledge about our world, and no scientific approach to validation, thus any rumours they heard would be taken as a truth.

    C. As nothing could be understood or explained at the time the Bible was written, and I mean nothing. Believing whatever happened that they couldn't explain was the will of a God was the only explaination they had.
    Thus everything that happened could only be interpreted as if it was the will of that God.

    D. If God doesn't exist there is very little point in reading the Bible other than as a historic study, when you can read philosophy that support itself with sound logical reasons instead of simply dogma.

    If that God does not exist you most likely only have one life and if so you have a limited time and would be better of spending that on studying what is most likely to give you and other people real value whether that God exists or not.

    Therefore in order to minimise the risk of wasting your time, you need to intellectually honestly evaluate the argument for and against the existence of that God.

    Without being affected by unsupported belief, social pressure, and wishful thinking.

    Once you have understood most of the atheist arguments and come to a sound position from which you can give sound answers to why you believe or do not believe in that God, you can study the Bible from several perspectives.

    But you are free to study it and interpret it in whatever way you want.

    That is just the way I would use to ensure I do not waste my time.
  • Possibility

    I’m personally more agnostic than anything else, and it was a thorough reading of the bible that led me to realise that the important thing is not so much whether or not God exists, but the value of sharing experiences that point to something larger than ourselves.

    But I understand that most people would prefer to know one way or the other and, frustrated with the not knowing despite their intelligence, they seek a ‘sound position’ from which to engage intelligently in any discussion of the topic. I’m not trying to convince you one way or the other - I am under no illusion that my approach to ‘God’ or the bible is based on any sound argument for or against the existence of God. All we really have is unverifiable subjective experiences, whether our own or those documented in the bible.

    Just as I have found value in reading and understanding the history of philosophical thought, so I find value in reading the bible, and see it as documenting a specific cultural progression of philosophical and theological thought and experiences in narrative and other forms.

    I consider it all to be myth - but that doesn’t make it a waste of time, in my opinion.
  • tim wood
    What are we looking to find in the scriptures. If it's the truth, then, amidst the many interpretations, which do you pick as truth?BrianW

    From among interpretations, as truth, none. Translation is interpretation. If you're dealing with an interpretation of a translation of the bible, then you're dealing with an interpretation of an interpretation. And this is just the condition of most Christians: they cannot read their book.

    And apart from the problem of interpretive translation, any translation is a problem, because translation and meaning are just plain different. Three examples (or maybe five):

    1) τό βιβλίον, a Greek word universally translated as (the) book. And you and I know what a book is. Or do we? What is a book to an ancient Greek - or anyone who spoke ancient Greek? Probably scrolls. Aha! Google to the rescue: Byblos, ancient city in Phoenicia from which the Greeks imported papyrus. I did not know that, did you?

    2) παρὰ τοῦ πονηροῦ. Para tou poneirou. Translated as the latter part of the phrase "(protect us) from evil." This is widely understood and actively interpreted as a prayer to God to protect us from evil. But that is not what it says. It says, "from the evil one/man/thing." Inasmuch as it's singular and not plural, it refers substantively, the evil (one), to a singular evil one, viz, Satan. Protect us from Satan, that is; not the random misfortunes of the world.

    3) πορνεία. Porneia, you can clearly make out the root of an English word - that is both akin to and distant from its antecedent. But how is it translated? And how is that translation understood? Fornication, most often, and it is preached as sexual intercourse, or any sexual activity outside of marriage, as a sin and an evil. Fornication is an interesting word. It does refer to illicit sex. it comes through old French from Latin, and refers to a certain kind a architectural structural arch, the idea being that prostitutes would ply their trade in the shadows created by these arches. And πορνεία itself refers to the activities of male and female prostitutes, especially temple prostitutes. Thus, a relatively reasonable injunction to not turn to prostitution, or act like a prostitute, has for hundreds of years been understood as an imperative to avoid sex, even thinking about sex, until and unless married, age and experience of no moment.

    4) Acts 1:10. ..."suddenly two men in white robes stood by them." This "suddenly' is often adduced as proof of the existence, and "sudden" appearing, of angels. But what is the Greek? The word is "παρειστήκεσαν" - a mouthful. It means "had been present." "Two men had been present with them in white-clothing." Nothing sudden.

    5) And last but not least: ἡ παρθένος (parthenos). Translated as "the virgin." Mary is παρθένος. But what does it mean? The word refers to people, including young women to be sure, but as well young men, and old men and women and widowers and widows. In fact, anyone not entitled to enjoy the pleasures of marriage. That is, a middle-aged widow with five children, if not remarried, would be παρθένος.

    And so on. What to do about it is another topic. There are good rules for Biblical exegesis - reading out from the Bible its meaning, as opposed to eisegesis, reading meaning into the bible. First however, is to grasp that such an effort is necessary.
  • Possibility

    We’re really dealing with an interpretation of an interpretation of an interpretation of an interpretation...

    The majority of the bible writings were stories and teachings passed down in oral tradition for many years before they were written down, including the gospels. The ‘source’ can also be understood as more experiential than verbal, making any attempt to ‘read out from the bible its meaning’ problematic to say the least - although I agree that this is a good place to start, at any rate.

    To add to your examples, I’ve noticed that are a number of different Greek verbs that translate as ‘to see’, and that the author of the gospel of John uses three main ones, often together to illustrate the differences between simply looking, attributing meaning to what we see and recognising the ‘truth’ of what we see. This distinction and depth of meaning is lost in the English translation, obscuring in particular the author’s understanding of the resurrection (which incidentally might surprise most Christians).

    θεωρέω - theoreo refers to seeing as in observing, discerning, considering. It describes more than simply looking - it includes thinking and deciphering what the visual cues mean. Theoreo is the root of the English word ‘theatre’, where spectators concentrate on meaning, as well as ‘theory’, in which a meaning is offered without confirmation. The seeing action is to attribute meaning through observation. The verb is used to describe someone not just seeing, but attempting to make sense of what they see - e.g. recognising a person or mistaking that person for someone else, recognising that what they observe has meaning, but not necessarily grasping the true meaning.

    ὁράω - horao is described as seeing with the mind, seeing spiritually, or with inward perception. The verb is used in the imperative to instruct the disciples or readers to do more than simply look with their eyes. The seeing action is to grasp the truth of an observation.
    Horao is also used in the aorist form (eido) to describe knowing, or a seeing that becomes knowledge. Like the English expression ‘I see what you mean’, eido is described as ‘a gateway to grasp spiritual truth (reality) from a physical plane’ - a bridge to mental and spiritual seeing.

    Both of these verbs are distinct in meaning from βλέπω (blepo) which refers to one’s physical sense of sight only. When this verb is used, the intention is to look at what is objectively visible, without necessarily associating what one sees visually with any meaning or knowledge in the mind. It describes a physical ‘looking’ or noticing. When someone is said to ‘see’ in this manner, there is no sense that they are processing what they see, deriving meaning or realising the truth (from the perspective of the author).

    FWIW, John 6, 9, 16 and 20 illustrate these three ways of seeing.
  • tim wood
    And so it goes. Given, then, that there is such a thing as the Bible, and given what most folks think it is, which it isn't, leaves the question, what, exactly is it? In my opinion it's an extended treatise on an ethics derived from faith (which leaves a lot of qualifications out for the moment, but they a whole other thread).
  • Possibility

    Yes, but it’s more than that.

    It’s also a culturally and historically located expression of the metaphysics of human experience - a collection of attempts to substantiate or objectify what is insubstantial and subjective, yet immanent in our experience. Whether we agree with how they’ve expressed it or for what motives, it remains a testament to humanity’s experience of this insubstantiality or ‘spirituality’ nonetheless, along with our failure to adequately define, control, manipulate or harness ‘it’ for our own ends.

    It’s a cautionary tale, a documenting of what not to do in many respects: of wrong turns and dead ends, of promising starts led astray. But in doing so, it also provides some experiential clues as to how we might best respond to or interact with this peculiar dimension of experience or awareness, in light of everything we’ve learned about the human experience since then.

    Personally I don’t think it’s ‘God’ we should be looking for in our lives, but the experience people have called ‘God’ and unsuccessfully tried to substantiate in their own cultural, historical or ideological context.

    We have recently begun to recognise (through modern scientific and philosophical exploration) that existence does not necessitate substantiality. This seems like a good time to revisit the metaphysics of the bible without being dismissive or judgemental, and
    Without being affected by unsupported belief, social pressure, and wishful thinkingxyz-zyx
  • tim wood
    99.99% agreement. If I could change, in the first line, "the metaphysics" to "a metaphysics," then 100%. -And that's all I got.
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