The Bible: Is It Worth Reading?

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Anonymous

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I was raised in the Roman Catholic faith (or rather I had it forced upon me). When I eventually got to an age where I was able to make my own decisions as to my faith, I stopped going to mass and became sceptical of anything which others expect me to accept without question. However, I don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I know very little about the Bible and would like to know if it's really worthwhile to start reading it. Is there anything to gain, either spiritually or intellectually from doing so? Are it's teachings relevant for living one's life today?
Any input on the subject would be gratefully appreciated...
 
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Anonymous

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No, get out while you still can! Its all crap, all of it. What possible good would it do? Make your own mind up about hhow to live your life.
 
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Anonymous

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Adam Rang said:
No, get out while you still can! Its all crap, all of it. What possible good would it do? Make your own mind up about hhow to live your life.
That attitude seems as bad, if not worse, to me than the school system and family which forced me to accept their beliefs.
I don't want some ultimate truth from the Bible. I'm not a religious person. I just want to know if there's anything I can learn from it...
 
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Anonymous

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Well, you can read some of the parables, have a chuckle at some of those classic Jesus one liners, but apart from that, I dont think you should read it with the intention of finding out how to live your life. The people who wrote the Bible, definatly had some sort of an agenda... And by the way, why the bible? How about the koran? Or some Buddhist scriptures?
 
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Anonymous

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The Book of Job is good in a sort of fatalistic, God can screw you over any time and don't you ever forget it, sort of way.
The Songs of Solomon are pretty racy.
Gospel of St John is the most interesting gospel, IMHO, but all the rest of the New Testament, apart from the gospels, I always found moralising homophobic, sexist crap.
But I have to agree with Adam, there are a lot more important or interesting religious (or philsophical texts) that I would want to read before I ever got to the Bible.
Even a lot more intersting books about the Christian faith, come to that - the Imitations of Christ by Thomas à Kempis or The Way of Perfection by Saint Teresea of Avila.
Personally, the best spirtual/religous/philsophical text I have ever read is the The Meditations By Marcus Aurelius,
which you can get on-line:
http://classics.mit.edu/Antoninus/meditations.html
 
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Anonymous

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I know very little about the Bible and would like to know if it's really worthwhile to start reading it. Is there anything to gain, either spiritually or intellectually from doing so? Are it's teachings relevant for living one's life today?
The Bible is one of the foundation stone's of western culture. An understanding of the Book is a good place to start in understanding nearly 2000 years of cultural development. It's not the only place to look, Graeco-Roman and Scandanavian-Celtic myth, culture and history all have their place and there's more...
 
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Anonymous

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Why the Bible indeed Adam? Sorry, I guess that was pretty narrow-minded of me to be thinking solely along Judaeo-Christian lines.
I may not have made myself very clear, but I'm not claiming that the Bible or any other text is the definitive answer to everything. I just wanted to know if the Bible really merits all the fuss that's made about it, and even if it doesn't, is it a necessary read?
Thanks for your opinions and thanks for the link Chatsubo, I'll definitely check it out...
 
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Anonymous

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The Bible is simply a collection of some of the oldest words written by man. I read the bible as a sociological and historical narrative. (In the same sense that Agatha Christi, Jeeves and Wooster and Robert Louis Stevenson are historical but not neccessarily accurate depictions of events)

However, I try to study the fresh translations that are conducted by theology Masters and not christians. Do not rely on the King James version or any of the other christian oriented versions.
Their translations colour the text sooooooo much.

Read the gnostic gospels, Dead Sea Scrolls and the New and Old Testement Apocryphas.

Many of the early events in the Old testement are backed up with natural events. I dont mean that the Ark is proven to exist because it was really sunny that day.

No, the natural events in the bible are backed up by....wait for it....natural events.

Noahs flood is a story that has always been with man.
Plague and famine still occur. etc, etc.

It is part of history but not a part of spirituality...at least I dont think it. If it was, it is a spiritualty of violence, torture and one that is ran by a moron of a God (Old Testement)

I love being able to pick up the bible and show people that
Moses was a murderer. A mass murderer, no less.

If you reject and throw it away then you have no fuel or knowledge to enter into discussions and certainly not arguments with others who do read it.

I find it fascinating. In the same way that I enjoy reading inscriptions on gravestones or reading a good period book.
(No not a period drama) I mean Stevenson, Burns, Chaucer etc, etc. Other contemporary books.

One last point. Very few of the authors of the many books within the bible were saying to themselves "Aw, yes. I'm gonna get this published in the bible!" The bible was compiled from scroll after scroll after scroll and as such it becomes a little library of ancient books. What could be wrong with that.

Yeah, read the bible and look at as many other ancient texts as you can. It is all history.

Look up Gilgamesh or Jesus's childhood in the New Testement Apocrypha. Look up Enoch and read some tibetan texts. Study as many different Histories/Holy Books as you can. I believe that to be the true path to enlightenment. Do as much as you can.

Roman Catholic rules are not found in the Bible and they certainly were not spoken by the MAN Jesus Christ.

Howzat?
 
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Anonymous

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St.Clair said:
Look up Gilgamesh or Jesus's childhood in the New Testement Apocrypha. Look up Enoch and read some tibetan texts. Study as many different Histories/Holy Books as you can. I believe that to be the true path to enlightenment. Do as much as you can.
Howzat?
Hooyah! Someone with some sense - I applaud you St Clair.

I don't think that enlightenment can be gained from only one particular doctrine or dogma.
It's up to everyone to find out what their path is through life and that can only be done by researching as much as you can possibly get your hands on.
Absorb what you find interesting or relevant to you-, leave the rest but be aware of it as it keeps things in perspective.
 
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Anonymous

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Thanks for that fresh perspective St.Clair. I'm in college at the moment so I don't have time to read the stuff I'd like to. Any serious reading I do will probaly have to wait till after I'm finished. I'm struggling through Ulysses at the moment so after that I'll try to check out some of those...
 

lopaka

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Hi Homerjaymc-A few of my own random thoughts regarding your question and some of the replies (as I tiptoe through the minefield).

Since I gather you are from an RC background, I think the Bible is a good place to start. Reading sacred texts from other major (or even minor) religions/faith traditions is important, but
a number of sensei or roshi that i know would recomend that before a westerner from a Judeo-Christian upbringing starts delving too deeply into Eastern thoughts, for instance, they become familiar with what's in their own back yard first.

First off, I'd say get something like an annotated New Revised Standa
rd Version Study Bible. The footnotes, maps, etc. can be very helpfull in understanding the text and context of what is being written. Secondly, if possible, find a group of people to read and discuss with. Preferably led by someone with a strong classics background who knows ancient Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, etc. Though VERY IMPORTANT: Not one with an ax to grind or who is out to convert people to their belief, just a good scholarly perspective. A lot of the Bible is very *dense*, with layer overlaid upon layer, it can make your head swim if just read in isolation.

As far as specific books go, in the OT, Genesis and Exodus, Job for sure, as it is unlike anything else in the Bible. Proverbs has some good nuggets of wisdom. Isaiah is difficult, but would help put a lot of the Gospels in context. Ditto for Daniel, an extremely hard text to wrap one's mind around as it is frought with symbolism and is the only true apocolyptic narrative in the Bible outside of Revelations. But it does provide some interesting paralells for those of us today who are attempting to "resist the empire".

In the NT, the Gospels, absolutely (realizing that Acts is merely a continuation of Luke under a different name). Though John has the most flowery language, my personal favorite is Mark. It is the oldest of the four. Not much discourse, focused on action and movement instead. The disciples come off looking extremely clueless. There is no virgin birth or gilded, resurrected Jesus, just a man wandering an teaching at the begining and an empty tomb at the end.

It would also be a good idea to read at least some other NT books, though as has been noted, some of it is pretty awfull as seen through modern eyes. However, coming from an RC tradition it would help to see the centrality of Pauline influence in much of Protestant thinking. And some is just gorgeuos, Philippians 4:4, just to cite one example.

As far as other writings go, the Gostic Gospels are fine, but I'd stay away from Augustine, Aquinas, St. Theresa, without some kind of Bible study behind you first. (Though with St. T. being the patron saint of chess players, she'll always hold a soft spot in my heart
:).)

Um, I guess that's all the pontificating I have for now, there IS a lot of wisdom and beauty in the Bible, plus a lot that is, well, neither. But as one ofthe most influentual works of the past 2000 years, I'd say take a look, regardless of what you take away from it. Hope this helps a little.-Lopaka
 

oll_lewis

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first I'll have to lay my cards on the table and say I am a christian, don't unquestionaly belive every word in the bible thought because the old testiment depended on oral traditions to preserve most of the storys untill it was writain down and sometimes exageration will creap in.

My favorate books in the old testiment are samual 1 (david capers around getting on king solomans nerves) and eclesiasties (from which you can learn a lot about life and how ultimatly futile it is writain appently by king soloman).
If it's teachings you're after you could do a lot worse than the book of proverbs (a lot of the advice in thre wil still ring true today).
Also for all you shreck fans reading this there is the first recorded talking donkey story in the book of numbers.

Easiest to read and most reliable translation is probably the goodnews bible btw.
 
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Anonymous

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Thanks for all that advice. In my local parish, anything that is read at mass is just taken as a story, without having any underlying meaning, by the vast majority of mass-goers.From my experience of Catholicism anyway, there's very little in the way of trying to understand what's being presented. Readings and Gospels are listened to in a half-assed way and everyone goes home, happy that their souls are saved for another week! It doesn't make much sense to me. Why do these people wish to adhere to a religion without knowing what's going on in any of it's rituals?...
My guess is laziness, taking a 'royal road' to salvation...I personally don't believe I have a soul to save, just in case anyone thinks I was going off on one there about the lazy manner of certain 'flocks'...
Thanks again to everyone...
 
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Anonymous

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Sorry you never got my response as I offered genuine advice. The reasoning was silghtly critical of church leaders I'm afraid so you aren't allowed to see it.
Racism, attacks on the mentally-ill, rampant homophobia, masogeny, is all part of acceptable free speech here it seems. I keep forgetting the big no no though.
You can deny or criticise God but you mustn't have a pop at those who get their power from 'representing' Him.
 
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Anonymous

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Yeah, I was guilty of the same thing in another thread, MickyMichael. However, this chap was asking a different question.

I wholeheartedly agree with all the criticisms of the Roman Catholic Church. I was not able to read yours but I know that I would agree.

However, the chap was asking about the scriptures not the rules that have been adopted over the last 1700 years. The rules have become scuzzy nonsense but the authors of the scriptures could not concieve the future that their words would have.

The psychopaths that contributed probably approved but the good people who helped create what we now know would turn in their grave if they knew how their good words were abused by the Roman Catholic Church.

Remember, there was no Roman Catholicism in Old Testement times.

The words are merely a collection of amazing stories, philosophies, analogies, metaphors and other principles belonging to a wide spectrum of people. Yes the Roman Catholic church have abused them but HomerJay did acknowledge his awareness of the negative aspects.

He wanted to know whether the Bible needed rejection as well.

As a biblical historian, I no longer see a connection between Roman Catholicism and the Scriptures. With Christianity, perhaps but not the RC.
 
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Anonymous

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I'd be interested to hear your opinions Mikey...
Perhaps you could send a PM or E-Mail if it wouldn't be too much trouble...If so, thanks for taking an interest anyway.
It's not really church leaders I'm interested in though. I know enough about what some of them are capable of myself...
 

mejane

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Getting back to the original question: yes, read the bible and other religious/philisophical texts but treat them as human ideas not G-d given laws. In other words, as my old Mum used to say "listen to my advise, but think for yourself".

Jane.
 
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Anonymous

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I havn't read all the posts here so if what I say has already been said I apologise but...

As well as other great texts (The Bagda Gita, The Koran ect) the bible has alot going for it.

The Psalms contain some of the most beautifull and terifing things you will ever encounter, the Song of Soloman is one of the most beautifull peices of erotic poetry I have ever come across and Eclesiastics (I think that's what it's called) is earth shateringly beautifull in places.

My favorate thing in the bible is ironicaly form St Paul who has been misinterpited by meny a writer and has been used to justify homophobia and misoginism within christianity.

When he claims that the greatest qualities of a christian are 'faith, hope and charity and the greatist of these is charity' he infact ment 'charity' to be closer to what we would call empathy. Anyone who argues that the greatest quality we can aspire to is empathy deservs at least a little respect.

Read your bible, it's the/a good book.

I recomend the canongate cannon printings of individual books with modern prefaces.
 

stu neville

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Sorry if this thread reads a little disjointedly, but I had to edit it quite heavily: a now banned member attempted to subvert it to his own agenda, and to a degree succeeded. It is now back on track.

Back to the Bible...

Stu
 
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