The genealogies in the early part of Genesis seem superfluous, don't they? But what's this bit that doesn't follow the pattern? Enoch? What's so significant about him? Everyone else mentioned died, which is to be expected. After all, you've studied and, in studying, you must have learned that man is mortal. But Adam and Eve had that shot at the Tree of Life after they ate of the fruit of Knowledge. God denied them that shot because of their sin. Enoch's mention bridges the narratives of Gen. 1-11 by indicating that God is still willing to give immortality to those who live faithfully. In short, he still gives a crap about people, which will be very important to a guy named Noah.
I swear, I'd been stressing over the accusations made by Philip Pullman and many others that the Lord doesn't want humanity to be wise and think for ourselves when I suddenly remembered: when he offered King Solomon one wish, and Solomon wished for vast wisdom, the Lord could not have been more pleased! -Lale
If God wants us to be wise then why does he give us so much misinformation and then tell people to not question his word?
"The foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of men." A lot of things are counter-intuitive, and trying to reason them without faith in God leads to the wrong answer. All wisdom ultimately comes from God, and if we try to be wise without Him, we get in over our heads without even realizing it.
Also, one could argue that Solomon asked more for "being able to make the right decisions based on what I have/know" than "knowing more"?
Speaking of The Bible, after reading first and second Samuel, I could never quite get over what David did to Bathsheba in Samuel 2. There were times I could succeed in not feeling anger whenever I thought of him, but, I always held a certain amount of venom towards him for a short time. I thought "well so what if they patched things up? Bathsheba still got downgraded from being that special woman in marriage to a loving, monogamous man, to simply being another one of David's wives". I thought "why didn't David dissolve the marriage so she could go out to be someone elses only wife, instead of living the rest of her days competing with his other wives for attention?" I knew that God said he'd give David's wives to Absalom, but it later describes Absalom as laying with his concubines instead, so I always thought David had circumvented that command somehow....And then it hit me. Those concubines must've been David's wives at one point, as they were described as widows after David puts them in a house and doesn't lie with them again, therefore, it seems Bathsheba was the only wife David had left, as she isn't forced to live in confinement like David's former wives. Upon this revelation, one wonders whether God taking away David's other wives was to serve the double purpose of punishing David AND compensating Bathsheba so that she'd once again have a husband all to herself, and not have to be reduced to competing with other wives. In any case, it was upon this revelation that I was finally able to get over it completely (instead of only partially), knowing that Bathsheba was able to get David's full UNDIVIDED attention. — Fionordequester
Remember, Bathsheba wasn't innocent. While she didn't kill Uriah, she did cheat on him, so losing her firstborn and having to compete with rivals is quite fair.
On another note, Abraham's apparent willingness to sacrifice Isaac, even though God said that he would provide a sacrifice, always bugged me. Abraham was about ready to kill his son when he heard the ram. But then again, this is the same guy who lied to both Pharaoh and Abimelech about his wife (saying she was his sister) and who lost faith that God would provide a son through Sarah and slept with her servant Hagar. By this point in the story Abraham has a well-established track record of jumping the gun and making baseless assumptions even when God has already demonstrated his will and his power in Abraham's life on numerous occasions. The attempted sacrifice of Isaac is well within Abraham's character and experience (he did come from a society that practiced human sacrifice, after all).
I once heard a different interpretation of that story where Abraham is secretly testing God to see if he is the kind of deity that would demand a man to kill his son. Not sure if the text supports this at all, but it's given the story a greater poignancy and depth for me.
Here's the thing. God promised to make Abraham's descendants through Isaac a great nation, and if Isaac died, God wouldn't be able to keep his promise. God had already proven himself to be more than faithful in keeping his promises to Abraham (i.e. giving him a son when he was older than 100). In addition, he'd proven himself to be very, very powerful. In Abraham's place, I would assume that God would provide (provide a lamb, bring Isaac back to life, etc. Abraham knew what he was doing.
Abraham was stopped before he touched the knife, meaning it was the thought that counted. He was also extremely old, compared to a son who would have been in the prime of his youth. It may have been that he told his son about this and agreed to it. It could also then be tied in Jesus's (The Lamb's) sacrifice later on. It could be shown as practicing what you preach, in being willing to have yourself/your son do what you asked others to do, though goes even further in instead allowing animal sacrifices as a stopgap measure until the point when there was one final sacrifice that could pay for all.
Actually, a more careful analysis will reveal that what appear to be contradictions are pretty much misunderstandings of the timeline which can be easily cleared up by using historical context. The most obvious of these, and the one which is most frequently pointed out as a contradiction, would be Genesis two, which upon careful examination, is really just the latter part of Genesis one, but in slightly more detail. Other examples of seeming contradiction usually have to do with misunderstanding particular terms used in modern translations, due to the fact that English doesn't have words with quite the same meanings as their Greek/Hebrew counterparts. A good example of such a word, while not controversial in meaning, would be the Hebrew word "Hesed" which has no direct translation, but is frequently used to mean "lovingkindess," "covenant love," etc. So basically, whenever one runs into a contradiction, it's prudent to assume that one is misreading, and do the research to clear it up, mainly due to the fact that the Bible has, heretofore, proven to be an impeccably reliable historical resource.
You never really "get" God's behavior toward the end of the Old Testament until you go through a brutal breakup in which the other party was entirely to blame. Yeah, I have more respect for him now, considering Israel was effectively cheating on him for centuries and he patiently put up with that s___.
In fact, once you see God this way, a lot of his actions make more sense. He freed Israel from slavery (certainly a good thing) and initiated a relationship with them. But it was exclusive, as far as deities go. It helps that any other gods are unreal. But, we wouldn't bat an eye at a boyfriend or girlfriend insisting that a relationship be exclusive. For some reason, it can be hard to see God the same way. Thus when the Israelites immediately go and worship a Golden Calf, it wasn't a matter of God being selfish, but Israel being spiritually slutty.
I was reading the Old Testament, and noticed the pattern of younger siblings being put over older siblings, especially with Abraham's descendents, but also with Rachel and Leah. Then an idea hit me - both the Jews and the Christians are called God's children, right? I'm not writing this to insult the Jews, because I think Judaism is awesome, but I think there's a parallel that has Jews as the firstborn like Ishmael, Esau, Leah and so one, while Christians are the second child, like Issac, Jacob and Rachel. -Dandelion Fire
There's the really common belief that Ishmael's children are the Muslims while Issac's are the Jews. I think it might be in the Koran, but when it comes to the Bible, that's Fridge Logic. -Dandelion Fire
Jesus is technically a bastard child. Going on the assumption that Mary was a virgin who had never done the deed, he quite literally had no father. Going on the assumption that Mary was a virgin—as in unmarried—he was also a bastard child.
Born to a teenage mother, no less.
ALL mothers were teenaged before modern medicine. Childbirth was often deadly for both mother and child and probability of survival was greater if the woman STARTED having kids as early as possible. Women without children could die if they had their first at an advanced age. This is the real reason men had multiple wives. Women DIED. Now, not so much.
Joseph, Mary, and Jesus went to Egypt for a good many years so it is unlikely they told anyone about what happened. Joseph and Mary also seemed to have had multiple younger children, who I imagine would look generally the same as the other two. My personal theory is that Jesus basically took after Joseph in looks.
Not only that, but recall Deut. 23:2 "No one born of a forbidden union may enter the assembly of the Lord." Jesus knows exactly how it is to be an outcast, which may have something to do with why he's so eager to reach out to those on the fringes of society.
I'll toss out this theory about Abraham and Isaac: it's one of many religious reforms that populate the bible and the post Jesus history of Christianity. In Abraham's day, he was immersed in a society that worshipped the Canaanite Gods. These God demanded Child sacrifice. So when JHWH ordered him to kill Isaac, he makes no protest, nor does Isaac. Off they go to do the deed in the prescribed manner, and at the last minute JHWH says "stop - don't do that anymore. Kill this ram instead" thus the substitution of killing livestock instead of humans. Later Jesus comes along when animal sacrifice is a major industry and he, too says "stop - don't do that anymore. Instead sacrifice your spirit / will". Pretty much any major shift in worship is the same thing - a method of worship becomes outdated, or morally repugnant, or obviously damaging to society, and someone invokes God to change it. Islam replaced the brutal fights over the divinity of Christ. Protestantism replaced Catholic secular power (to a certain extent). Other examples are left as an exercise to the reader.
This was pointed out to me in jest but upon further meditation it makes complete sense: Old Testament God was a giant raging jerk of the brimstone and hellfire sort; if you sinned against him he'd call down plagues and curses and floods and all sort of nasty stuff, and woe betide you if you were even a little rude to his Chosen People. New Testament God preaches mercy and kindness and turning the other cheek and treating your fellow man as you would have him treat you and being understanding to the ignorant. What happened in between? He got laid.
Like many, He mellowed out after having a kid.
Joking aside, one way you could to explain the Character Development between OT/NT God was His becoming human and gaining the experience of a human life, human pain, human hopes and dreams, achievements and failures, love and loss, and a human death. He experienced what it was like to be on the other side of wrath, mysterious ways and a plan for everybody. He experienced fear and loneliness and immense suffering, just like everyone else. God became more merciful and less angry when He gained a human perspective of His own world and Himself.
He did not seem to go much against people for being mildly rude, mostly going after those attempting or having committed mass murder. The plagues in Egypt for instance went against those who had killed presumably thousands of babies and toddlers. Going from flood to brimstone to the other curses from above, there also seems to be a far greater selectivity as time goes on, with those areas being punished becoming smaller and smaller.
Why was Cain "protected" by his mark? Because it's a metaphor for vengeance and war. If Cain is killed, his sons will avenge him then they will be the targets, so on and so forth. - Damus2300
Ever wonder what was so bad about the man and woman eating the fruit and gaining knowledge? So did I for the longest time. Then it hit me: when questioned about it, they pass off blame to God, the woman, and the serpent. They failed to take responsibility for their own actions. This is further complemented when you notice the emphasis on the serpent as a "beast of the field." What's significant about that? The humans were supposed to rule over the beasts of the field (in addition to everything else on the Earth), not take their orders from one! They were betraying their very identity as humans, who are capable of shaping their own destiny. Cain then does the same thing, blaming Abel for his shortcomings. I could go on, but that would get tedious.
The story of Jesus healing the 10 lepers in Luke 17:11-19 ends with only one of the lepers coming back to thank Jesus - and he was a Samaritan. I initially assumed his ethnicity was meant to be some sort of contrast to the other 9 who should have been the grateful ones instead, being the ones waiting for the Messiah and all. Then it hit me, Jesus told the lepers to go show themselves to the priests, which was normal Jewish custom to do if you wanted to be 'officially clean'. The problem is that Jesus wasn't exactly a popular figure back then with the high priests and all and it was most likely said priests would dissuade the lepers from going back to Jesus. Of course not all the lepers were told this - the Samaritan was left out because he would be ostracised by the priests! He would then be the only one who felt a need to go back to Jesus! - Pachylad
There's an instance in the new testament where Jesus healed a blind man by spitting into his hand and rubbing said hand over the man's face (see here). Up until recently, this seemed like a random and gross thing for Jesus to do, considering there are other points where he heals people without even touching them. However, with the development of modern biology and forensics, saliva is known to be the most pure and potent source of DNA, the building blocks of life. Going on the assumption that Jesus is the son of God, then the blind man had just received a face full of super-duper holy DNA. A case of modern science adding a layer of context to biblical lore.
What's up with the different portrayals of Satan between the Old and New Testaments? In one, he seems to be just another angel doing his job, which happens to involve tempting people to test their moral fortitude and accusing those who fail to God. In the other, he's the lord of all evil bent on destroying everything. How did this happen? Consider what his job means. He's effectively the agent of God's wrath towards sin. When Jesus comes along and is forgiving people of their sins and healing them and all, Satan can't take it. This would put him out of a job, or at least displace him from a job he has learned to do quite well over the centuries. He snaps and blames Jesus, putting him to death on a cross. When God vindicates Jesus' message by resurrecting him, Satan declares all-out war and moves to trying to destroy anything he can find to spite God. This makes sense of statements that God spares us from his wrath; Satan was the guy for that!
Ah, but who's to say that working through the serpent wasn't part of his job as tester of men's faiths? In fact, viewing the whole temptation as a divinely ordained test makes a lot of sense. God doesn't even really punish the serpent; he just details what will happen between it and humanity as a result.
If one looks at the first chapters of Genesis as an allegory, rather than a literal account, then the events described make a great deal of sense. The Earth is initially described as "formless" and "without shape". The implication is that it hasn't even come together yet, and is still a cloud of space dust. However, the greatest evidence for Genesis chapter 1 being allegory is that the order in which God creates the Earth is anachronistic. The first three days see the creation of Sky, Sea and Land, while the second three days see the Sun and Moon, then Birds and Fish, then Animals and Man. If the chronology were correct, the order would be Sky, then Sun and Moon, then Sea, then Birds and Fish, then Land, then Animals and Man. Instead, the order presented shows God creating the Realms for the first three days, then next three days are spent populating those Realms.
Genesis chapter 3, the fall of Man, God may seem overly cruel in condemning women to painful childbirth for Eve's part in eating the fruit, considering Adam gets off with having to toil in the fields to survive. However, recall that the fruit is specifically referred to as the "Fruit of Knowledge of Good and Evil". After they ate of said fruit, Adam and Eve actually became smarter and more aware of their surroundings (and gained the capacity to commit evil, which is likely the main reason for their removal from the garden). Remember that knowledge is stored in our brains, which are located in our heads, and during childbirth, the head is the first thing that comes out, and is also the only real obstacle (everything below the neck pretty much just slides out after). Pain in childbirth may not have been an actual punishment, but an unfortunate consequence of the newfound knowledge of humanity requiring us to have larger heads and more advanced brains to store it all.
Language barriers were created at the tower of Babel when humanity tries to make itself equal to God and was at the height of hubris. The language barriers get removed at Pentecost after God has made himself human and accepted death humbly.
Why is the serpent in Eden able to talk? A lot of Christians would appeal to Revelation 12, where Satan is referred to as "the ancient serpent," but this doesn't appear anywhere in Genesis, and it still doesn't mean that Satan possessed the snake. However, compare the other talking animal in the Torah: Balaam's donkey. The angel opened its eyes and it was able to talk. After the man and woman ate from the tree "their eyes were opened." Wouldn't it make sense if the serpent ate of the tree and gained the ability to talk? That explains his sentiment, "You will surely not die!" because he knows from experience.
In Matthew, Jesus says "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me." We don't think twice about this mention of the cross today, but wait a second: Jesus was still living when he said this. The cross wasn't yet associated with him. "Taking up the cross and following him" was only given its full weight later. Yeah, he talked about his death several times, but never so specifically (at least as far as this troper can remember). Even if you believe this was a later addition, it's still a nice, subtle bit of foreshadowing. Besides, according to traditional Christian lore, many of the disciples did in fact die on crosses.
I've heard a number of times the criticism that an eternity of bliss would become boring and eventually be even worse than Hell. But today I noticed this verse which sums up the philosophy of Ecclesiastes: "A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God." That reminded me of another verse from Isaiah about the New Earth: "They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit." It's not an eternity of just sitting around being happy and other saccharine ideas; it's a lifelong employment, in which you will be forever content.
It is thought that there are as many as five million distinct species of beetle. Given the dimensions of the Ark stated and the surface area of the average beetle, Noah and family (and everything not a beetle) must have spent the entire 40 days and 40 nights swimming in a sea of 10 million beetles, making sure not to crush any. And then there's the issue that colony-based insects like bees or ants can be considered as each colony being a single individual...
Eh, what are kind of issue is time or space to one who cannot be contained by the grand total of his whole creation? All Noah had to do was show his devotion by building the arc and searching for that with which to fill it, God could provide the rest. Consider there is not even enough water on Earth for the flood described leading some Rabbis to suggest God went back in time(tehom) to make sure there was enough rain.
If Adam and Eve were the first humans, how did they manage to populate the entire human race? Wouldn't their kids (assuming that they had more than just Cain and Abel) have had to commit incest to help populate the world? And if they found other people to populate the world with, then where did those people come from?
Adam and Eve technically were not the first humans, something Jewish scholars noted since at least the fifth century. The book of genesis describes the creation of people, male and female, with the order to populate the Earth and the founding of what will eventually become nations on day six. God rests, then goes on to create a garden and a man to tend to it named Adam. Adam gets Eve, Adam and Eve are kicked out and start mating with the older population. Giants start emerging in the older population(what happens when you mix too similar but ultimately different species?), God floods the Earth. Some books blame the flood on these hybrid giants, of course they also change the giants into half human angel hybrids rather than the product of two groups meeting so maybe it is better those books are not canon to most denominations.
If it helps, think of Adam and Eve as a metaphor for cell division.
First you have Adam, a single cell.
God makes Eve from his rib - Adam divides, one cell becomes two.
Eve has two children by Adam - two cells become four.
The Bible isn't meant to be taken literally (even Jesus taught in parables, after all). It is a compilation of attempts by early man to understand humanity and the universe we inhabit. Whether they had divine help is a matter of belief, but to take the stories in it literally is to deliberately make oneself ignorant of the many layers of knowledge and truth contained within. Adam and Eve are just one example, where in nitpicking the unlikelihood of inbreeding as the origin of life, we fail to spot it actually does describe in a sense the origin of life.