Monday, December 3, 2007

The Bible and Middle East History

Colonizing a Metaphor


"For more than a century, archaeologists and historians have attempted to confirm beliefs of both Christians and Jews about their common past using the Old Testament (OT) and New Testaments (NT) as starting points. Christians, while embracing the OT as a harmless precursor of the NT, insist that the combined texts prove the truth of Judaic monotheism, with its covenant with God, a covenant that was renewed with the resurrection of Jesus as the Christ. Jews, of course, stick with the basic OT texts, insisting they alone prove their role as God's Chosen People and their right to create a Jewish state, Israel, in the Holy Land. This Jewish state was first grudgingly accepted by the Christian West, and now is enthusiastically embraced by some Christians based on their own misreading of the Bible. The Bible supposedly predicts that the Jews will return to their supposed promised land, and the messiah will (re)appear, signalling either the end of the Earth or the reign of God.......

And if there is any doubt left at this point that the Bible is the "gospel truth", to be taken literally, consider one of many such "instructions" from Yahweh to his "chosen people":

When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations and when the Lord your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord's anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you. In the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them. (Deuteronomy 7 and 20).

Is this the God of mercy and compassion that Bishop Tutu referred to in his appeal in Boston? Or is this the template of an ideological monster dreamed up by a scribe sitting in the Alexandrian Library, and eagerly adopted by bigoted fanatics applying it verbatim to the land of Palestine today?"

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