Fwd: [b-hebrew] Torah

MarianneLuban at aol.com MarianneLuban at aol.com
Sat Aug 14 12:58:03 EDT 2004

In a message dated 8/14/2004 9:56:32 AM Pacific Daylight Time, MarianneLuban 

> In a message dated 8/13/2004 7:58:27 PM Pacific Daylight Time, 
> dwashbur at nyx.net writes:
> >> On Friday 13 August 2004 19:31, MarianneLuban at aol.com wrote:
>> > In a message dated 8/13/2004 4:39:12 PM Pacific Daylight Time,
>> >
>> > rosewalk at concentric.net writes:
>> > > Who's confused?  Not I.
>> > >
>> > > It's those who cannot bring themselves to believe in the Divine
>> > > Origin of Torah, who are confused.
>> > >
>> > > Shabbat Shalom - lighting candles (in NY) right now!
>> >
>> > Nothing wrong with lighting Shabbat candles.  That is a lovely custom.  
>> But
>> > this is a list for scholarly discourse--not fundamentalist insistences 
>> that
>> > all who do not believe "as we do" must be confused.   
>> The two are not necessarily mutually exclusive as you imply.
> Meaning what?  If there are persons here who believe the HB is divinely 
> inspired and others who view it as any other ANE text, those two views can 
> certainly co-exist without difficulty--but not if one contingent insists the other 
> is "confused".
> >> 
>> > The Torah was written 
>> > by humans.  Like every other ANE text.  Just because it contains great
>> > wisdom doesn't make it anything more than a product of a certain 
>> time--and
>> > a superstitious time at that.  
>> Puh-leeze.  Superstition is in the eye of the beholder.  The fact that they 
>> believed in something beyond what we can see and touch does not make them 
>> "superstitious" unless one arrogantly chooses to exclude such an idea a 
>> priori and then proclaim that assumption "scholarly."
> This is not a forum, as I understand it, for the discussion of whether God 
> exists or not.  The ancients--all of them--were superstitious because they had 
> no science.  Everything that occurred for good or ill was at the whim of the 
> gods.  Everything that was beyond their comprehension was viewed as a 
> "miracle".  It is not from arrogance that I say this but from evidence that exists 
> from every ancient culture.  If you choose to believe that only monotheists 
> were the "enlightened ones" and that their superstitions were not really so 
> because one god can work miracles as opposed to many gods who cannot, 
> then--fine--but do you include in that the single god of the first monotheist, the 
> pharaoh, Akhenaten, who worshipped the sun?  Akhenaten was right in a 
> sense--there can be no life on earth without the sun and many blessings come from 
> it--but is the sun capable of miracles?  The Jews took monotheism one step further 
> and conceded that their god cannot be defined.  In one sense, they threw up 
> their hands and admitted that nobody knows just who or what began the 
> universe but--called it "God", anyway.  That, to me, is certainly the most 
> enlightened--and humble-- viewpoint, but regardless, the proto-Jews and Jews 
> were still superstitious in that they still regarded their God (capitalized 
> since capitals began to be used in writing) to be responsible for every 
> phenomenon not understood by them.  Illness was a punishment from this God for 
> wrongdoing because no one understood about the microbes that cause various 
> diseases.  And, because they were only human, the Jews had to "personalize" this 
> force behind the universe and claimed it was on their side--because they were 
> "the true believers", the "Gott mit uns" philosophy.  In other words, their 
> ephemeral God was still afforded the very human attribute of  being able to 
> "take sides" and work wonders for the benefit of his Chosen People--those who 
> understood him the best.
> And when God disappointed them, they attributed it to some transgression on 
> their own part--anything rather than to concede that God does not meddle in 
> or take interest in everything that happens to his followers.  Yes, that is 
> superstition.
>   As C.S. Lewis said, no 
> >> study of probabilities within a given framework will ever be able to tell 
>> us whether the framework itself can be violated.  You don't know whether 
>> there was a "higher" being behind the creation of the Torah any more than 
>> anyone else does, and "science" as currently defined can't say one way or the 
>> other.  In such a situation, it's best to avoid inflammatory terms such as 
>> "superstitious" and "fundamentalist."
> Regardless of the existence of C.S. Lewis, superstitious people still exist. 
>  And those who give no quarter to those who do not exactly subscribe to 
> their own beliefs.
> >> 
>> > The Torah is a tribute to a very long memory 
>> > and a need to preserve it--a remarkable achievement of a people and quite
>> > unprecedented in its thoroughness.  Divine inspiration?  Well--whatever 
>> it
>> > is that inspires any great work.  When I listen to Puccini, I don't think
>> > of God.  I think of the capability for genius in the human race, a thing
>> > that is almost denegrated by attributing it to an ephemeral "higher 
>> power".
>> >
>> > Please, fundamentalists--go in peace.  But do not try to divide this 
>> forum
>> > into "believers" and "unenlightened".
>> Um, you're the one doing that. 
> Um--no.  I advocated for the opposite.  Religion and politics divide.  If we 
> can discuss Biblical matters without dogmatism--then that is the only way to 
> have a peaceful list.  People are going to have their personal beliefs--but 
> if one who does not share the view of the other maintains the other must be 
> "confused", then that is where scholarly discourse leaves off and dogmatism 
> takes over.
> Shoshanna has been on this list for many years 
> >> 
>> now and has always treated other views with great respect, even while 
>> disagreeing with them.
> Ah, I see.  Invoking seniority.  Yet I somehow cannot view the above 
> statement from her as a sign of "respect" for the views of others.
>   She has earned at least the same level of deference 
> >> 
>> and respect for her views.  There's no need for her or anyone else to "go" 
>> anywhere, in peace or otherwise. 
> Telling someone to "go in peace" is not tantamount to telling them to "go 
> away".
> "Go in peace" means "proceed in peace"--and tolerance.  Let us discuss 
> philology and history--but leave off condemning others for not sharing our 
> religious beliefs and zeal.
> Marianne

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