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Was God Pro-Choice?

 

 

Every election year, many Christians (Evangelical and Catholic) gather together to make the issue of abortion a major topic in politics.  They cite the sanctity of life all together and tell how abortion is murder of the unborn.  Many also claim that abortion is impermissible on any grounds because of the Bible, even in cases of rape, incest, or even if a woman’s life is in jeopardy due to complications in a pregnancy.

 

OK, maybe God being “pro-choice”as the title states might be a bit of an anachronism, but it seems rather clear that in some instances he does sanction abortion or at the very least, permit ways to allow for a woman to have a miscarriage if she’s pregnant due to adultery.

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“The Bible: So Misunderstood It’s a Sin” by Kurt Eichenwald in Newsweek

A friend sent me a link to this article about the Bible and biblical illiteracy among evangelicals today from the January 2015 issue of Newsweek.

The author makes the argument that modern American evangelicalism (aka the popular conservative portrayal of Christianity many have in mind in America) is quite at odds with what the Bible actually teaches, particularly when it comes to issues about the inerrancy of the Bible, issues on homosexuality, women’s roles in the church, the formation of the canon, and other issues.  In fact, the Bible condemns the style of Christianity modern evangelicals are practicing now, the article states.

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The Evolution of Satan

Statue of Satan at the Satanic Temple in Detroit, MI.

Statue of Satan at the Satanic Temple in Detroit, MI.

 

Great article and post on the development of Satan/the Devil in Judeo-Christian thought and theology through the centuries over at isthatinthebible.wordpress.com.

Highly fascinating.

“Princes of Darkness: The Devil’s Many Faces in Scripture and Tradition”

Site Update: New Sub-Menu – “Biblical Exegesis and Hermeneutics”

 

 

 

Since 2006, I have studied in depth the art and discipline of biblical exegesis and hermeneutics as both a student and a tutor to lay persons over the years.

 

It has been a tremendous blessing and life-changing journey to go through the Bible in a serious and thorough way.

 

I have included a new sub-menu category under the “Biblical Studies” menu on top titled “Biblical Exegesis and Hermeneutics” which covers a span from 2006 – 2014.

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A Critical Assessment of the Reformed Doctrines of Original Sin and Solus Christus (Salvation in Christ Alone)

 

 

So yesterday, we had an interesting discussion on the doctrines of Solus Christus (Salvation in Christ Alone) and Original Sin.

 

I just want to make this clear that these critical assessments of these core Reformed doctrines are in no way to undermine or question the validity of the Christian faith.  We raise these issues and challenges to strengthen the faith and understand what Christians actually believe in.

 

However, I understand how emotionally involved persons who have adopted these traditions and doctrines to heart are and who take this personally.  And I’m fully aware how nasty debates can become, even between faithful brothers and sisters in Christ.  We do it because we take the truth seriously.  We don’t want to engage in polemics attacking or pushing someone to adopt or reject another point of view.  Its purpose is to raise thoughtful questions and engage and spur others to think things through.

 

We live in a complex and interconnected world today and many worldviews will come into contact with one another.  It is important to take other viewpoints into consideration and call out those that do not make sense, are flatly wrong, or seem antiquated.

 

We raise questions, not to cause people to doubt their faith, but more so to realize that an unexamined faith is not worth believing in (to modify Socrates’ famous quote that “An unexamined life is not worth living”).

 

We welcome thoughtful discussion and disagreements with the ideas and viewpoints we present here, so please do comment if you wish.

 

This is theology in action – faith seeking understanding.

 

 

 

 

The Hebrew Bible: A Critical Edition – “Controversy Lurks as Scholars Try to Work Out Bible’s Original Text”

 

Illustration of Torah scroll text October 18, 2009.  (photo credit: Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)

 

 

As some may or may not know, the biblical text (including the New Testament, although this article focuses on the Old Testament) has gone through multiple edits and revisions over the centuries; therefore it has been subject to errors not only in terms of grammar but also content as well.  The Bible that we read today is what it is in its “final form”.

 

For the past 14 years, a team of scholars have been trying to piece together what the very original Torah or Old Testament was like, but not without some controversy.

 

From the article:

 

The difficulties in the project stem from the Bible’s long history of transmission from scribe to scribe through the centuries. HBCE is trying to reverse engineer that process, to sift through the various extant texts of the Bible and — by analyzing grammatical glitches, stylistic hitches and contradictions of the texts — establish a reading closer to if not the original, then at least the archetype on which the subsequent copies were based.

The goal is to rewind the clock as far as possible toward the time when the various biblical texts attained their canonical form, around the start of the Common Era.

 


The Hebrew Bible: A Critical Edition will be published later this year.

 

To learn more, go to the project’s main website here.

 

 

 

 

The Problem with Camels and the Old Testament

camels

Camels are mentioned as pack animals in the biblical stories of Abraham, Joseph, and Jacob. But archaeologists have shown that camels were not domesticated in the Land of Israel until centuries after the Age of the Patriarchs (2000-1500 BCE).

 

Whenever you read a Bible or a children’s Bible with illustrations, you’re bound to come across images of camels alongside Abraham, Issac, or Jacob.  We take this for granted most of the time.

The New Bible Dictionary: 3rd Edstates,

In Scripture, camels are first mentioned in the days of the Patriarchs (c. 1900 – 1700 BC) [a bit different from the caption above].  They formed part of the livestock wealth of Abraham and Jacob (Gen. 12:16; 24:35; 30:43; 32:7, 15) and also of Job (1:3, 17; 42:12).  On only two notable occasions are the Patriarchs actually shown using camels as transport: when Abraham’s servant went to Mesopotamia to obtain a wife for Isaac (Gen. 24:10), and when Jacob fled from Laban (Gen. 31:17,34)- neither an everyday event.  Otherwise, camels are attributed only to the Ishmaelites/Midianites, desert traders, at this time (Gen. 37:25).  This very modest utilization of camels in the patriarchal age corresponds well with the known rather limited use of camels in the early 2nd millenium BC. (p. 160)

 

However, recent archaeological and scientific studies provide new evidence that suggests that camels were domesticated in the regions associated with the biblical Patriarchs centuries later than is portrayed in the biblical accounts.

This research and issues with the domestication of camels is not new news and has been known for some time now.

This research is interesting when trying to place a time-frame on when and where the Pentateuch was written and compiled.

How science and biblical studies converge – read the article here.

 

 

 

Dr. Irving Finkel – CNN interview – 1/28/14 – “Blueprint for ‘Noah’s Ark’ Found”

Since the post about Dr. Finkel’s recent work on the “Ark Tablet” was rather popular, here he is discussing the translation of the “Ark Tablet”.

The clip’s title is a bit misleading, somewhat, but you get the idea.

“Noah’s Ark: The Facts Behind the Flood”

Was the Ark that survived the Flood really round?

Dr. Irving Finkel, assistant keeper at the department of the Middle East at the British Museum, recently deciphered the “Ark Tablet” – an ancient Babylonian tablet that describes a flood and a building of an ark by a single person; however this one is unique in that this tablet provides specific instructions on how the ark was to look like and be built.

Some interesting facts:

  1. In this account, the ark was round, called a coracle– a shape that is still used today in the Middle East, with a diameter of around 230 ft; very different from our traditional picture of what the ark looked like from our Sunday school pictures
  2. It’s one of the first known depictions of the Akkadian (Semitic Babylonian) word “sana” which translates to “two each, two by two” when the Ark Tablet describes how the animals were rounded into the coracle. (Sound familiar?)
  3. It’s worthy to bear in mind that, as Finkel states, the Babylonian flood story in cuneiform is 1,000 years older than the book of Genesis in Hebrew.

He’s come out with a new book on his discoveries called The Ark Before Noah: Decoding the Story of the Flood.

I personally had a chance to attend a lecture of Dr. Finkel in the summer last year at the Metropolitan Museum of Art when they were exhibiting the Cyrus Cylinder; the Met used his English translation of the Cylinder. He’s quite an entertaining speaker, unlike most other academic lecturers in his field who tend to be quite dry and boring in my opinion.

It should be interesting to see how this may impact biblical and Old Testament studies in the future.

Click here for his complete article.