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Did God have a wife?

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William Crawley | 13:29 UK time, Wednesday, 23 March 2011

In Bible's Buried Secrets, a new BBC TV series, the biblical scholar Dr Francesca Stavrakopoulou examines how archaeological discoveries are changing the way people interpret stories from the Bible. Some of her findings will surprise -- and outrage -- some more traditional readers of the Bible. In the second programme, Dr Stavrakopoulou examines the history of monotheism in ancient Hebrew religion. We rather take for granted the idea that the Isrealites believes in only one god.

The Shema -- "Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord is one" (Deuteronomy 6:4) -- was the centrepiece of all Jewish prayer services, and monotheism is, fundamentally, what separated Hebrew believers from their neighbours. But was monotheism the only tradition within Judaism? Was polytheism (or henotheism) ever the mainstream conception of God? And did the ancient Hebrew believers also believe God had a wife? After all, the idea of a married deity is philosophically no stranger than the idea of an unmarried or eternally single deity -- right?

Dr Stavrakopoulou says the text of the Old Testament contains evidence of a divine spouse who has been revised and edited out of the mainstream biblical theological tradition.

Watch the programme here and tell me what you think.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    I watched her programme and my views haven't changed. I believe and always will believe in what the bible says. I believe that we are living in the last days and this one of the signs when people will come up with all types of theories to try and undermine what's written in God's precious words. If people are taken in by programmes like this then more fool them.

  • Comment number 2.

    Re Tullycarnetbertie's End of the World predictions
    http://biblicaltimes.wordpress.com/2011/02/17/new-age-channeled-video/

  • Comment number 3.

    Didn't watch the programme, but have a theology degree and know the arguments.

    I've written a longer review of them at http://custardy.blogspot.com/2011/03/did-god-have-wife.html

    Basically, the Bible tells us that there was a degree of syncretism between Canaanite paganism and monotheistic Judaism, and that it was condemned and attacked by people like Elijah and Ezekiel. What we observe in the archaeology is precisely what we would expect if the Biblical account is correct. Hence it is bad historiography to dump the only written account we have of the period in favour of some nutty speculation.

    But theology faculties are notoriously out of date when it comes to historiography. If classics faculties used the same arguments, people would still be questioning the existence of Troy.

  • Comment number 4.

    So the bible tells us about the polytheism of Israel but the bible isn’t telling us the truth about the ancient people?

    Yawn.

    Wake me up whenever someone hears of some paint drying.

  • Comment number 5.

    Did watch the programme, don't have a degree in Theology. Enjoyed the continued exposure of the mythical stories in the Bible when confronted by the actual archaeology of the area.

  • Comment number 6.

    I enjoyed this programme. It was very interesting to learn how the cult of Judaism jettisoned a lot of its gods after Judah fell in the 6th century (BCE) as it strove to create a united and separate identity.

    Most contributors to this blog accept that that the Bible is a work of fiction, but so many religious people have clearly been deceived. The King James Bible it was shown contains significant mistranslations which raises important questions about the commitment of various churches to the truth. I wonder how different the final fiction would be if people had been writing down their stories from an earlier time.

  • Comment number 7.

    This program set out with claims to "Rock Abrahamic beliefs to the core".

    This was the opposite conclusion for me, it actually depend my belief in the trinity, the three images found on the pottery backs a christian belief of the father son and holy spirit which is mirrored in Genesis when God is talking to a second and third person....

    (Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.)

    What people miss when looking into facts and history such as this and when approaching from an atheistic angle, Is that Jesus did not arrive in the first instance at the Virgin birth he was around at the start of time.








  • Comment number 8.

    @halfbuiltrobot
    Having checked out the Kuntillet Ajrud pottery imagery at Wikipedia and as you say being created in the image of god I feel, how can I say, inadequate.

  • Comment number 9.

    @Paul....lol, Still at least its obvious its not a female.

  • Comment number 10.

    I really appreciated BBC2 scheduling one of the funniest episodes of Have I Got Old News For You after this programme - it made me so angry!

    As a christian I enjoy having my thinking challenged by well thought through programmes which may present new information or ideas. This programme did neither. It was merely a re-hash of old and discredited ideas which anti Judeo-Christian groups peddle from time to time.

    This woman passes herself off as a dispassionate atheist academic. The programme clearly shows her as none of these things. There is a clear agenda to discredit the Bible not by presenting persuasive arguments but by making unsubstantiated claims with the support of institutions which share her assumptions (Tubingen) with equal poverty of proof.

    The one thing she appears NOT to have done is read the Bible account with any objectivity or intelligence. Even as an UNbeliever it is clear from the Bible that polytheism was rife in ancient Israel and that it was challenged by prophets throughout their history - and we are supposed to be persuaded by shard of one pot from one village!! The Bible itself says that their were shrines to the gods of the other nations on every street corner in Jerusalem. Her "revelations" therefore shed no new light whatsoever - and the conclusions at which she arrives appeared childlike and most UNconvincing.

    Her last conclusions, that pagan modes of worship continue into modern Christianity were laughable in the extreme, together with the well worn rubbish about woman being subjugated. At the time of Christ women and children were chattel, given no more worth than old tools and the lowest slaves - to be discarded on a whim. Christianity introduced the concept of human rights and equality, the protection of children and the vulnerable from being sold off into marriage. Honestly, this woman is dangerous.

    Finally, and far more concerning in regard to the reputation of the BBC, is the clear political message underlying the programmes: the Bible is flawed, therefore Jewish claims to the land are flawed; the people were polytheistic worshipping the gods of the nations, so those nations have just claim to the land of Israel. These are hardly the views of a dispassionate atheist. They come from the most extreme stable of thought that drives the politics of countries like Iran in their foreign policy toward Israel.

    A statement was posted earlier that the BBC are inciting religious hatred in screening these programmes. I agree. It is obvious to any "dispassionate" viewer. I am not, by the way, a Jew or the supporter of the current policies of the Israeli government. My desire is to see peace, real peace, for the Palestinians. Programmes which make unsubstantiated claims such as these make that less likely not more.

    Shame on you BBC for allowing such inflammatory rubbish to be screened on what many believe to be a credible media platform. The arguments made are crass and unsubstantiated. The conclusions drawn are fanciful and illogical. The political implications are inflammatory.

    This truly is the worst kind of rubbish I have seen on any television channel - EVER!

  • Comment number 11.

    @halfbuiltrobot
    I think you'll find the seated image is in fact female, that would be the holy ghost then?

  • Comment number 12.

    "It was merely a re-hash of old and discredited ideas"

    Best description of the bible to date Mark. Maybe you can present a series too.

  • Comment number 13.


    I enjoyed Dr Francesca Stavrakopoulou’s presentation of the current research into the archaeology of the Bible. The ideas and findings aren’t new but it does us good to examine the basis of the perceptions that have been handed down to us about something that purports to answer the one big question.

    I am no Hebrew scholar but I have noticed these references in the plural with reference to God since I first read the Bible for myself. In the very first line of the Bible the word Elohim, the plural for El, is used but the translations that come down to us have replaced this with the singular word God. So we see that, according to the original the ‘Gods’ created heaven and Earth. Then there is the reference made by God (Genesis 4:22) and so on. All of this impresses on me that in the very earliest time that the person or persons responsible for that very first account was/were trying to be as accurate and truthful as possible even if subsequent editors have imposed their own spin on it.

    What strikes me about the discussion of these issues is the fear that must have prevailed in academic circles even in the very recent past of offending the religious sensibilities of society at large. Times have changed of course but there are still people in this world that would stifle debate with the injunction that it is inherently wrong to question such things.

    The really interesting question is why people will still insist and cling to dogma with such vehement desperation, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, that the churches version is the only valid one.

  • Comment number 14.

    Hi BBC and All,

    I agree with the idea of sharing viewpoints from all angles, but it has to be acknowledged that unless the media (the BBC included) is willing to allow expression of all viewpoints, then there will be an implied bias. In this case, we have atheist scholar's opinion on the Bible/Christ. Can you also allow the opposite viewpoint to be demonstrated fairly?

    I say Christ, because the Bible and Jesus Christ are inextricably linked. You can't have one without the other. John Stott says regarding this link, that the authority of the Old Testament was seen in both Christ's endorsement, and more strikingly His personal submission to it; as seen in His moral conduct, in His official mission, and His public debates. So, to discredit the Bible is to discredit Jesus Christ, by association.


    Now of course, I am a Christian, and so is Stott, but his views are highly regarded, even in secular circles. This can be seen by the fact that in 2005 Time Magazine voted John Stott, one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

    My challenge to the BBC, is that you allow another primetime series, this time, on the topic of atheism. You have just allow an atheist viewpoint on the Bible. So now in the spirit of fair play and unbiased expression of views, would you allow a Christian scholar's viewpoint on Atheism?

    Ravi Zacharias would be an excellent choice for a documentary of this type. Not only does Mr. Zacharias, have the unique story of coming from a Hindu background (so he is not a stereotypical white, Christian, tele-evangalist), but he has already approached the topic of Atheism from a scholarly point of view. And that, to the same degree and level of competency as Dr. Stavrakopoulou has her topic at Oxford (that topic being: Biblical Distortions of Historical Realities). And, also to boot, Mr. Zacharias is highly regarded in the secular community, as his invitations to secular colleges, functions, etc, attest to.

    So, if it is right and just to run a documentary that discredits the Bible, and thus Christ, and therefore Christianity and Judism, then is it unjust for the opposite opinion to be presented in an equal and fair measure? Clearly, if fairness is the benchmark, then the answer to that question is yes. I would really appreciate an answer from the BBC on this because in the spirit of fairness, at the very least, a respectful answer to this question is to be expected.

    Your silence in the matter, I'm afraid, will clearly show bias. So, please show us that we Christians are wrong to think that BBC and the media are bias toward Christianity. Please, let us see the evidence: that fairness, and free expression, still exist in the world of media today.

    Thanks and all the best,
    William Painter






  • Comment number 15.

    #14,

    Is Songs of Praise not good enough for you? Is the continued dominance of christianity on Radio 4's Thought For the Day and Daily Service not enough? Are the programs and services broadcast on supposed holy days not enough?

    Do you not realise that, despite desperate claims otherwise, church-going, literal bible believing christians are a minority in the UK and yet they still enjoy a much higher degree of coverage and dedicated programming than other minorities?

    'Fairness' is not taking all accounts and settling for the middle between them all. Christianity enjoys continued assumption that it is 'true' within the BBC especially, and is still perceived as some special case with regards its status as a belief system. I didn't hear you crying out against shows that portray islam in a negative light and insisting that the BBC has programs dedicated to positive views on that.

    I know the persecution complex is strong in devout christians, we have several good examples on this blog, but you need to realise that the majority of people do not follow your specific faith and that 'bias' that you claim is little more than a reflection of the demographics.

    Your silence in the matter, I'm afraid, will clearly show that you want your faith alone to be shown special treatment and a lack of criticism. So, please show us that you christians are wrong to think you need more programs devoted your faith. Please, let us see the evidence: that fairness, and free expression, are being used to hound your religion specifically.

  • Comment number 16.

    The tiny amount of broadcasting dedicated to Christianity is more than compensated for by the huge amount of secular programming, including the anti-christian views prevalent in programmes as mainstream as Coronation Street which seems only able to portray Christians as homophobic nutters.

  • Comment number 17.

    @ Natman,

    No, I can't agree that the above programmes are an equal platform as compared to a 3 series primetime documentary. Yes, in a sense they do give a Christian perspective, and some of them an overall equal voice, to most world religions. But, I can't see those expressions on par with a lengthy scholarly discourse or documentary.

    Are there really equal documentaries by Christian scholars out there, on mainstream television today? I can't think of any, but I could be wrong. Also, Christians surely are not persecuted in the Western world are they? Are bias and persecution equal terms? At best, someone could possibly defend a position that: the birth of persecution is beginning in the West, but surely never that we are persecuted now.

    But I was saying neither. I'm simply don't believe that representation of the Christian faith is of an equal level or quality in mainstream media, today.

    All the best,
    Bill

  • Comment number 18.

    Bill,

    If you're so concerned, then why did you watch it? Why did you take the time to complain about it? For the BBC to broadcast a program that casts doubts on some aspects of a specific interpretation of a specific religion is not bias. Bias would be the BBC broadcasting a program that explicitly said that gods existed and that we should worship said god(s) in a specific manner...

    Oh, wait... You've already got that! You get it every week.

    If there is any bias in the BBC is that christianity is still portrayed as a state religion with all the privileges that holding such a position entails.

    "I'm simply don't believe that representation of the Christian faith is of an equal level or quality in mainstream media..."

    Christianity gets the airtime given to it as a proportion of the people who subscribe to it, more than, in fact. To have a primetime program devoted to evangelising a specific religion would not only be bias, but blatant preaching by a public service broadcaster who is supposed to show impartiality.

    You might not like it, but having a go at a specific aspect of your faith (that not all theists believe in) does not constitute bias.

    Are you going to accuse the BBC of anti-christian bias from the Wonders Of The Universe program, which implicitly states the universe is many billions of years old and not the 6000 that some aspects of fundamentalist chrisitianity claim?

    mccamleyc,

    Welcome to the secular world, where have you been for the past 30 years? I'm sure you've got adequate examples to back up your claim that 'anti-christian views' prevail.

  • Comment number 19.

    eirlysbill wrote:

    "Can you also allow the opposite viewpoint to be demonstrated fairly?"

    The BBC has been pro-Christian since it was founded. Lord Reith believed the Corporation should be used as a means to promote Christianity, and millions of pounds of licence-fee payers money has gone towards doing just this. If you were genuinely interested in fairness you would be calling for the Religion section to be replaced by an Atheist section (only for the next 50 or so years!).



    I

  • Comment number 20.

    @eirlysbill et al

    off the top of my head
    BBC A History of Christianity
    Ch4 Christianity a History
    Both recent mainstream multi episode programmes. Any chance of Dr Stavrakopoulou being given an equal opportunity?

  • Comment number 21.

    #14 William Painter, I am sure a statistical review of programmes for and against Christianity on the BBC will show an overwhelming slant against Christianity. I would not expect Christianity to be favoured in the light of us being a small minority but I would at least expect the best Christian apologists to be given a fair hearing at reasonable intervals.

    #16 Well said mccamleyc

    #13 Melchizedek, words have their meaning from the context in which they are used. Their form and etymology does not tell us their "real" meaning. The form may be plural, as is the case with Elohim, but in the context of the Five Books of Moses or whole Old Testament there is only one God hence the English translators are correct in using the singular, God.

    Why the plural form is used leads to much pointless speculation which misses the point. The writer of Genesis says that God created the universe. And seeing no human was there to observe this, there is no way we can know this except if God revealed this to man, which the Bible claims he did. Science simply does not have the wherewithal to either disprove or prove this. And whatever artefact is found in an archaeological dig tells very little if it cannot be tied to a written source. But even a written source like the books of the Bible need to be understood as parts that make sense on their own following the normal use of language. But at the end of the day it all boils down to faith - does one believe that God exists and has revealed certain things about himself and his creation which are recorded in Scripture or not? I do not think it unreasonable, if God exists and has given his revelation to mere humans, to believe this despite our critics wanting to label us as intellectually retarded.

  • Comment number 22.

    I'm in America & out of the loop, so to speak, but we have programs like this ad nauseum on the "History "Channel which seems to specialize in shows on "The Bermuda Triangle",UFO's,Nazis, and Nostradamus.Basically whatever is sensational & will sell airtime.
    I really like the BBC & hope it doesn't follow the path of least resistance.

  • Comment number 23.

    Hi Both,

    I don't think we will agree with each other, do you? And I don't think more debate will change that.


    Whilst, we don't agree, I do wish you the best,
    Bill

  • Comment number 24.

    #21 Hi Michael in Dublin,

    The form and etymology of words should never be ignored when the plural form is expressed in two or more different words (‘Elohim’ in Genesis 1:1 and ‘us’ in Genesis 4:22 we’re the examples I referred to). I think we are looking at a trend here rather than a single plural form word plucked out of context.

    But please don’t think that I am looking to attempt the futile exercise of pulling the Bible to pieces using the current secular reductionist analysis that atheists put so much store in. I have no time for literal interpretations of the Bible or, on the other hand, ‘evidence’ based argument when tackling the big questions. I would ask you though, who you think the ‘sons of God’ are (Genesis 6:2) that caused a race of giants to be born on Earth for instance.

    I find all of these things fascinating and I love the Bible even with all its errors, political interference and redactions.

  • Comment number 25.

    There is all sorts of views on the BBC from the compulsory christian nonsense on a Sunday to the great stuff from Proff Cox, the only stuff though which is compulsory is the christian nonsense.

    Would it be a good idea to remove the idea that the BBC should have a christian or religious output on a Sunday and let the market decide. If not can we have a slot for gay christians built in, I am not one but would like to see what happens.

  • Comment number 26.

    mscracker,

    The bermuda triangle has far more evidence than christianity and it is still nonsense.

  • Comment number 27.

    @26:
    I think Christians are evidence of Christianity.But often we are poor spokesmen & poor examples.

  • Comment number 28.

    Dave,

    I agree with you, it's often overlooked by some that the BBC is forced to show christian output but not programming from any other belief system. There might be anti-christian bias in the media (but I think it's just a persecution complex on the part of the Daily Mail and its kin) but the BBC is bound by law to be pro-christian.

    mscracker,

    The great thing about TV is; there are so many channels, if you don't like what's on, you either turn it over to something else or turn it off! In the US you don't even have to pay for it if you don't want it! There's a multitude of evangelical TV channels over there and you've always got Fox News if you want your current affairs flavoured with fundamentalist nonsense.

  • Comment number 29.

    Melchizedek -"The form and etymology of words should never be ignored when the plural form is expressed in two or more different words (‘Elohim’ in Genesis 1:1 and ‘us’ in Genesis 4:22 we’re the examples I referred to)"

    Interesting also how Catholicism for example still maintains a Polytheistic nature, perhaps more akin to Hinduism with the way the "Catholic pantheon is full of supernatural creatures that listen, act and respond to prayer." People pray to specific Saints for specific areas of help, in the same way Hindu or Ancient Roman deities have been worshiped.
    Gordon J. Laing observed in 1931, whether there is an ability to "...distinguish with any degree of precision between veneration and worship is another question".

    This is monotheism in name only

  • Comment number 30.

    We could have has Baal; instead we got Yahweh.

    Ah well.

  • Comment number 31.

    newdwr54

    You have awoken me from my BBC induced slumber.

    There's a most delightful word play in the "Ah well".

    BTW The 'Preview' and 'Post Comment' buttons appear to have moved to the right - this is rather disconcerting.


  • Comment number 32.

    I do agree, with what you say; it is monotheism in name only. All the mystics from the world’s many and various religions work to make contact with or become one with the primordial, immanent, transcendent reality that is substantial to all phenomena; or, in other words, the supreme Godhead. The different religions all ultimately speak of the same thing and the disciplines involved are universal; the mortification, the non-attachment, the self knowledge, the charity and the love of one’s neighbours. The path makes the same demands on those who want to progress beyond mere ritual worship no matter what the names given to the various aspects of ‘the ultimate reality’ are. Materially minded people will always attach more importance to the names and outer forms ascribed to any given religion’s deities than those of a truly spiritual bent will.

  • Comment number 33.

    I see no reason in Christian theology to press a 'sacred'/'secular' divide.

  • Comment number 34.

    Re the programme,

    I found it to be sensationalist. The fact that the early Israelites worshipped gods other than their main God Yahweh should come as no surprise to anyone.

    But to suggest that Yahweh was 'married'... come on.

    This was 'Nigella does Biblical Historical Criticism'. I know it's shallow, and no doubt I am a very shallow person, but I could hardly take my eyes of Dr Stavrakopoulou's... eyes, etc (though the green dress has been on her from the first episode, which worries me slightly).

    Joking aside, I think this is partly the 'sell' of the show; it's glamour vrs. historical criticism and it focused my attention firmly on Dr Stavrakopoulou, not historical Biblical criticism.

    I am as shallow as they come, I've just realised.

  • Comment number 35.

    I should add that the problem is mine, not Dr Stavrakopoulou's... I'm shallow, but I'm not sexist.

  • Comment number 36.

    Bible's Buried Secrets got me interested enough to re-read a section of Robin Lane Fox's 'The Unauthorised Version'.

    In this book, the historian suggests that the idea of One God would have been ludicrous even to some historical Biblical characters themselves, such as David. Monotheism, he argues, didn't fully emerge as a Jewish doctrine until post 622 BC.

    Up until that point the God Yahweh had been the most important God, but not the only one ("Thou shalt have no gods 'before' me" does not preclude the existence of other gods.)

    Lane Fox cites evidence showing that in addition to Yahweh, Baal was venerated by some ancient Israelis, as well as a 'female deity', who might well be the one mentioned in this BBC show.

    I still think they over-egged the 'wife' business to hype the show and boost viewing figures, but the basic premise, that monotheism was a relatively late arrival in Jewish religious culture, appears to be fairly well evidenced.

  • Comment number 37.

    Melchizedek, post 24,

    "I have no time for literal interpretations of the Bible or, on the other hand, ‘evidence’ based argument when tackling the big questions."

    Thank you for that, especially the second part of it. When tackling big questions, you don't want evidence to be part of it. It's nice to have someone say it so openly and clearly.

  • Comment number 38.

    I just watched the Christchurch thread and see it has been closed for further comments. You're damn lucky LSV. Technically you can now claim the close-down of that thread for not answering the many points you had run away from in those 600+ posts.

    But I'm sure molecules self-replicating in isolation, dark matter, probabilities reducing with time and the definition of Specified Complexity will come up in some other thread again.

    But this thread would not seem the right one for it. Meet you again on another one.

  • Comment number 39.

    Just so I can satisfy myself that I am not taking this thread off topic, allow me to answer the question posed by William: "Did God have a wife?"

    My answer: maybe and no.

    'Maybe' if the word 'God' simply means some people's 'idea of god' and that's the way they interpret pagan theology.

    'No' if we are talking about the 'God' who is actually the one true, living and real God, and who is not to be understood as merely an ancient construct based on the wishful thinking of dogmatic naturalists and avant garde atheists trying to make a name for themselves in the media.

    Now on to more pressing matters... answering Mr Peter "play the game by my rules or else I'll have a tantrum" Klaver...

    PK (@ 38) -

    "I just watched the Christchurch thread and see it has been closed for further comments. You're damn lucky LSV. Technically you can now claim the close-down of that thread for not answering the many points you had run away from in those 600+ posts."

    Actually you're the lucky one, as you have got out of answering post #597, which rather showed up the nonsense of your position.

    I suppose the Christchurch thread was a bit embarrassing for you, what with your great 'Nobel Laureate' howler!! That gave me a great laugh.

    As for my running away from questions, I think you will find that that is not the case. But do dream on if that makes you feel better. You need the comfort, as you have a lot to get over (like the above-mentioned humiliation).

    Right, no more from me on this thread, except if I feel inclined to comment further on the 'wife' hypothesis.

  • Comment number 40.

    @ 28:Natman

    Unfortunately we do have to pay for tv service in the US by either cable or satellite dish. It's possible to pick up some channels with "rabbit ears" antennae but that can be a "sometimes thing."
    The channels you receive through cable subscription are packaged together by the cable provider.You do not get to pick & choose each channel.
    I already try to practise the option of not watching shows that are simply sensational or represent history at the lowest common denominator, it just requires mashing "Off" on the remote control which is easy, but finding what is worthwhile on TV is the real challenge.

  • Comment number 41.

    I watched this programme and noticed that the quotation from 'Deuteronomy 33:3' was incorrect, it's actually Deuteronomy 33:2 and reads thus:

    "And he said, Jehovah came from Sinai, And rose from Seir unto them; He shined forth from mount Paran, And he came from the ten thousands of holy ones: At his right hand was a fiery law for them."

    The word in question is the Hebrew word dâth (dawth), which means either a royal edict, statute or commandment. This is merely a feminine noun in the Hebrew language, but yet Dr Francesca Stavrakopoulou (the presenter) asserts that this word implies that this is an actual female personality and that Yahweh had a wife!

    Another text taken out of context was Psalm 82:6,7 - "6 I said, Ye are gods, And all of you sons of the Most High.

    7 Nevertheless ye shall die like men, And fall like one of the princes."

    According to Dr Stavrakopoulou, in a bid to cover-up Israel's 'secret polytheism', the scribes added this text to apparently show that God vanquishes other deities (I paraphrase). In reality, this text is an exhortation from God to the human judges of Israel.

    Now, the fact that Israel ever indulged in idol worship is no secret, in fact because of Israel’s incomplete conquest of the land of Canaan, Asherah-worship survived and plagued Israel, starting as soon as Joshua was dead (Judges 2:13). Furthermore, the Israelites had a history of flirting with idolatry/polytheism which God showed his detestation for (Deuteronomy 4:35, 6:4). However, there was and has always been a remnant who stood for Yahweh.

    How is it possible to refute the Bible from one piece of research (with some rather obscure findings) and pass theories off as fact? The Bible on the other hand is a reliable collection of historical documents, written by eye-witnesses during the lifetime of other eye-witnesses. It is like no other book as it reports supernatural events in fulfilment of specific prophecies and claims to be divine rather than human in origin.

  • Comment number 42.

    41. George-A wrote:

    "The Bible... is a reliable collection of historical documents, written by eye-witnesses during the lifetime of other eye-witnesses."

    The authors of several Biblical books admit that they were not themselves eye witnesses to events (e.g. Luke 1:1-2). There is no strong evidence supporting the claim that the Bible is particularly reliable historically.

    George-A wrote:

    "[The Bible] is like no other book as it reports supernatural events in fulfilment of specific prophecies and claims to be divine rather than human in origin."

    The Bible actually gets several of its predictions wrong, e.g. Ezekiel said that Egypt would be uninhabited for forty years (Ez. 29:10-11). Egypt has never been uninhabited in its history. Several other religions also claim that their Holy Books are prophetic and divine in origin (Qur'an; Mahabharata).

  • Comment number 43.

    In the beginning god created the heaven and the earth,
    and god said make sure someone writes this down.

  • Comment number 44.

    Where in the Old Testament are the Israelites NOT falling back into idolatry every so often? It seems a constant thread.

  • Comment number 45.

    mscracker,

    A comedian did a very funny sketch about that once, I can't remember which one it was, possibly Dara O'Brien. It was from the persepective of Moses and every time his back was turned the Israelites were setting up golden calfs or the like.

  • Comment number 46.

    @ 45:
    Thanks!
    From what I've read in the Bible & info from archeological finds in Israel, the comedy skit would be right on.

  • Comment number 47.

    LSV, don't you think your post 39 is rather triumphalist beyond all proportion? I can stand being corrected when I'm wrong. You should try that sometime. It would probably help you cope with yourself. To err is human. And if you do see that, then it relieves you of being so deeply in denial about all the things you need to block from your mind and ignore on blogs, the questions on so many subjects that keep nagging at your brain (helped by the occasional blog post) that you don't want to face up to, the erroneous ideas you need to let go of, etc.

    I find life a little easier when I accept I'm wrong now and then. For you it should be the most enlightening thing to lift your mind by a long shot.

  • Comment number 48.

    Hi All,

    Sorry to come back into this so late. But, after re-reading my comments and all the others after mine, I want to say that I stand corrected regarding the amount of Christian programming on the BBC. It surely seems that majority religious shows on the BBC are Christian. I've been in the country for only 7 years, and thus wouldn't have know the history of the BBC origins either.

    Please forgive my sweeping statement regarding this matter.

    I think my overstatement took the blog away from the heart of my challenge to the BBC; which was for a Bible believing scholar's take on atheism (below is an excerpt of my post #14)

    "My challenge to the BBC, is that you allow another primetime series, this time, on the topic of atheism. You have just allow an atheist viewpoint on the Bible. So now in the spirit of fair play and unbiased expression of views, would you allow a Christian scholar's viewpoint on Atheism?"

    So, better said: my challenge shouldn't have been one of quantity, but one of quality. Michael from Dublin set me straight on this when he hoped for the best Christian apologists to get a hearing. Michael saw my heart and expressed it better than I did. Thanks, Michael.

    Again, I know we won't all agree, therefore I'm only posting again in order to clarify my feelings and to apologize for the sweeping comments I made regarding the lack of Christian programming in the media.

    Thanks and all the best,
    Bill

  • Comment number 49.

    Aren't you all missing the point!!!

    Here are some Thoughts on the Infinite and Origins penned last
    year.

    Different religions and philosophies use different imagery and
    terminology appropriate to their cultures but all are attempting
    to come to grips with the Infinite. Some use the concept of a god,
    others do not. The majority of followers, whether nominal or
    committed, use the imagery and terminology of their own culture
    without question and find it sufficient. Some however try to find
    a deeper and universal meaning in the imagery and terminology. If
    they find something it will inevitably be the same as what is
    found in another culture although still expressed in imagery and
    terminology which may not be understood by others. Language and
    art are imperfect means of communication.

    So let us use the terminology and imagery of the culture with
    which we are most familiar - that of Christianity (the New Testament),
    rather than Judaism (the Old Testament).

    The Christian image of the Godhead is a trinity of Father, Son and
    Holy Spirit. One element of the Godhead is 100% human, flesh and
    blood, carnate. The carnate element, the Son, was "begotten (not
    made) before time began". Begeting is a carnate process involving
    a male and female. While the Son was begotten before time began he
    was not born until the reign of the Roman Emperor Augustus, about
    2000 years ago. The fertilized egg must have remained dormant
    through countless generations of human and pre-human life until it
    germinated in the womb of Mary, who was still a virgin.

    So who was the female element whose egg was fertilized "before
    time began"? There is no reference to Mary having existed before
    time began.

    John's gospel tells us that "In the beginning was the Word ---
    through whom all things came to be". Although in the English
    translation John uses the male pronoun "he" it does not signify
    that the "Word" was male any more than it signifies that God is
    male.

    A word is a label for a concept. Writing in Greek, the word which
    John used was LOGOS, from which we get logic, logistic, -ology.
    Logos means wisdom, a logical, even inevitable, development or
    evolution. Wisdom was represented in Greek mythology by the
    goddess Sophia. So the Godhead encompasses a female element.
    Indeed to John, the Godhead is mythologically and metaphorically
    female, John making no mention of there being a "Father" in the
    beginning. While Jesus uses the metaphor of God being a "father"
    he could have used "mother" or "parent" without losing the
    metaphorical sense of his concept. Nor does John make any mention
    of a "Holy Spirit" in the godhead in the beginning.

    There was no Trinity "in the beginning". John equates Jesus with
    LOGOS. Jesus was LOGOS/GOD. Not only did Jesus become
    incarnate in the womb of Mary he was already carnally extant, if only
    in potential, in the beginning, according to the Creed. While John
    says that Jesus was born (implicitly to Mary) without human male
    involvement he goes on to say that he was born of God, but as
    there was no male element in the Godhead, as described, Jesus was
    born of himself. The Godhead was hermaphrodite.

    The implication of all this is that carnate life existed in the
    beginning, if only in potential, and eventually manifested itself
    as a logical inevitability of being.

    Dennis Golden 11 July 2010

    Addendum

    Consequently, contrary to the general theory that animate life
    evolved from inanimate matter subsequent to the Big Bang,
    inanimate matter is derived from pre-existent animate life. Just
    as coal and oil are the inanimate metamorphosed remains of plant
    and marine life which existed subsequent to the Big Bang, so too
    could the solids, liquids and gasses which make up the universe be
    the metamorphosed remains of life before the Big Bang. Some life
    spores survived the Big Bang and evolved into what we recognize
    today as life.

    The Big Bang was not THE BEGINNING. It was merely the beginning
    of the presently recognizable phase of existence. We cannot know what
    existed prior to the Big Bang. We can only imagine, in terms of
    our present sensual awareness, what might have been. Some people
    imagine a "god" in our image and likeness, but that is only a
    product of their imagination.

    P.S. 28 March 2011
    As "our" encompasses male and female, their "god" must be a
    duality, rather than a trinity. Their "god", if male, must have a
    wife.

    Dennis Golden 10 November 2010
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