KevinWait a minute!Thu Jun 28, 2012 8:55am188.8.131.52You think that originally the bible was only taken VERY LITERALLY and it is only recently we didn't?
It is the opposite actually.
As early as the 2nd century Origen -- the main teacher of Christianity in Alexandria -- one of the biggest centers for Christian learning -- wrote his book about how reading scripture literally will cause people to believe wrong things about God. He felt he needed to make clear what Christians really were pointing to and why they read scripture. It is a book to help with PRAYER not to report facts about the world. So Origen discussed this.
Augustine in the 5th century wouldn't convert to Christianity originally because he was a scholar who read the great texts in Rome and knew rhetoric and when he read the bible he thought it silly, childish, superstitious and he couldn't believe it. It wasn't until he met Bishop Ambrose who told him he misunderstood and that the bible was not to be read so literally and tritely that Augustine was able to convert.
The type of hermeneutic that relied on a particular type of literalism really kicked in by the time Luther and the Reformation and then the translating the bible into the vernacular caused literalism (the way we mean it now) to explode. Average people who were not trained in rhetoric or the symbolic understandings of scripture began to read it more and more literally.
Sure there were always some who read it literally....but that was not the way it was taught in theology schools nor was it read that way in early monasteries or universities. Nor was that the focus of early preaching. The bible was interpreted with MULTIPLE levels of meaning. The literal/historical reporting in the text was seen as the lowest level. The symbolic parts were the most important.
Besides -- the type of literalism you are talking about is a contemporary development. Even the rise of "Christian fundamentalism" is a 20th century American phenomena started at Princeton.
The pre-modern approaches to texts are much more subtle. Much more nuanced. And also very different because they had very different assumptions about how the world worked.
Your idea that "ancient people were superstitious and dumb" but then science and thinking came to save us is itself a Myth told by the Enlightenment thinkers about the bad theology they rejected.
I do NOT reject science and good thinking. But you are doing the very thing I am pointing out -- you are reading the bible and theology out of its context. You are reading it anachronistically. You are not trying to understand the context that things were written.
And so you are not understanding the point of what the writing was about.
- I realize that as Science progresses... SES, Thu Jun 28 8:05am...more and more of the bible becomes non-factual and non-literal and non-historical. There was a time when every story in the bible was interpret as being literal. Yes, god DID create everything... more
- Wait a minute! Kevin, Thu Jun 28 8:55am
- So what you mean is that... SES, Thu Jun 28 9:04am...the people TODAY who think that the stories in the Bible ARE literally true (leading, for example, to constant attempts to find the Ark) -- are you saying that those people TODAY are more ignorant ... more
- Well... Kevin, Thu Jun 28 10:08amit is not as easy as saying that ancient people didn't believe the bible as historical fact because they don't know what we know. Some of the interpretations of the literal we just have let go of now ... more
- Have fun at the beach. SES, Thu Jun 28 10:14amI have nothing empirical to back this up, but I would wager that 99% of Jews "back in the day" read most of the stories in the Old Testmaent (Creation, Adam and Eve, the Great Flood/Ark, Soddom and... more
- A lot of people have died... Truthteller, Thu Jun 28 11:57amfor daring to say that some of the things in the bible are NOT literal, such as transubstantiation. Most of the evangelicals that I have encountered (including many right here) have said that they... more
- Kevin is apparently an expert. SES, Thu Jun 28 12:33pmIf he says that a majority of early Jews and Christians realized that most of the stories in their holy books were not to be take literally, then who and I to argue with him? lol OK, I'll argue with... more
- From the beach ont phone... Kevin, Thu Jun 28 1:31pmSo I can't make this long but we are talking about three different things here now. 1) what the thinkers and theologians taught and wrote about to explain the faith. They are the experts that laid... more
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