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Ask a Theologian III

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Plotinus, Nov 7, 2009.

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  1. Eran of Arcadia

    Eran of Arcadia Stormin' Mormon Retired Moderator

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  2. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

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    I've got a simple one, I think:

    Why didn't Jesus throw the first stone at the adulteress? My theory is that he also didn't qualify, since he (like everyone else there) had committed the same crime himself. Prove me wrong!
     
  3. Eran of Arcadia

    Eran of Arcadia Stormin' Mormon Retired Moderator

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    You mean because he, like everyone else there, had committed adultery? Jesus didn't say that was the case, he said those "without sin", ie even the non-adultering potential stone throwers were still sinners.
     
  4. Loppan Torkel

    Loppan Torkel Chieftain

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    The whole thing about Jesus not having come to condemn/judge the world doesn't really fit in with him throwing stones either.
     
  5. Gelion

    Gelion Captain

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    Ouch :)
     
  6. Elrohir

    Elrohir RELATIONAL VALORIZATION

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    Thread III! Impressive. :) I'm always glad to see these threads get posted in, as it's always interesting.


    You said,
    Could you elaborate on this part a little more? How do we know what sort of things have truth values, and which don't? And why do counter-factuals necessarily lack truth values, anyway? Of course, it seems that there could be some counter-factuals that are untrue, but also some that would be. For instance, let's say: "if Saul/Paul of Tarsus had died at the age of 2, then he would never have been a major figure in the early Christian church." He didn't become a player until much later in life, so if he died early on, then he couldn't have affected Christianity in any substantial way; that seems very reasonable to me. Yet this statement is definitely contrary to the facts, as Paul survived into adulthood to write many letters, and affect the course of Christianity, and so on. While I suppose you could say that we can't truly know 100% that Paul wouldn't have had an impact if he'd died at 2, that seems like an absurdly skeptical position to take. So it seems to me that at least some counter-factual statements can be known to be true, even by human beings. (And it could probably be argued that God, being more knowledgeable and more perfect than human beings, could know even more counter-factuals, if counter-factuals are knowable) Am I wrong, or is that just a bad example of a counter-factual? (Perhaps I'm misunderstanding what you mean by "truth value" or "counter-factual" - I'm open to that possibility, of course)

    I've always heard it said that Jesus could indeed have thrown the first stone - but that He was saying that you only could throw the first stone if you were without sin, not that you had an obligation to do so if you were without sin. (Also, I'm pretty sure he was talking about sin in general, not the particular sin of adultery - that sounds like it's implied in your post, although I may just be misreading it - I doubt every person there was an adulterer!)
     
  7. _random_

    _random_ Jewel Runner

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  8. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

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    I don't think there's precedent that executions had to be done by a sinless bunch of people throwing the rocks. I'm saying he was all like "C'mon, like you guys haven't done adultery! Heck, we've all done it!". It's like elsewhere, when he mocks people for not stoning their own children; he's basically saying "why so quick to stone? Moses said to stone your kids, and you don't do that!"

    Okay, I'm kidding a bit there. But seriously, why didn't he throw the first stone? If the execution was legal, why not conduct the first parts of it himself? Or ... maybe he wasn't sinless!
     
  9. Eran of Arcadia

    Eran of Arcadia Stormin' Mormon Retired Moderator

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    The interpretation with which I am most familiar is that the Pharisees were trying to get him to deny either Mosaic Law or Roman law (which were mutually contradictory at this point) and he pointed out, basically, that Mosaic law required making a claim to sinlessness that they didn't have. He had no interest in stoning her himself, he was just using her as an object lesson.
     
  10. pau17

    pau17 Chieftain

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    I was thinking the same thing.
     
  11. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Entangled Retired Moderator Supporter

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    So you expect proof that Jesus was a sinner and in particular an adulterer? In what form would you like this proof? What would you accept as proof? There is little sense in looking to provide you with something you won't accept. :p
     
  12. MagisterCultuum

    MagisterCultuum Great Sage

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    It may also be worth noting that Mosaic law demanded that both parties caught in adultery be punished equally, yet the Pharisees had apparently already let the man with whom she had been caught go free.
     
  13. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

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    Well, why didn't Jesus demand the presence of the man?
    Was there some component of Moses's law that didn't allow someone like Jesus to be involved in the stoning process? I think there's something special about those who were first to throw the stones, but I don't see how Jesus wasn't qualified to be one of the throwers.

    If she was just an object lesson, what was the lesson? To let adultresses go free? That Moses's laws were too strict?
     
  14. Gary Childress

    Gary Childress Student for and of life

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    Hi Plotinus,

    I didn't see this listed as something that has already been addressed but have you ever read any of Joseph Campbell's books on mythology and religion? If so, what do you think of his work?

    In some ways I sort of liken Joseph Campbell in the field of Mythology and Religion to Noam Chomsky in Linguistics. Both seem to emphasize similarities over differences between cultures within their respective fields of study. In a way it seems like both have tried to unite the human race under common principles of religion or language as opposed to emphasizing what differentiates us.
     
  15. MagisterCultuum

    MagisterCultuum Great Sage

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    The bible says that Jesus began writing something in the sand until everyone went away. It gives no indication of what he wrote, so it could have included that demand. More commonly it is however believed that he was listing the various sins that each member of the mob had committed, all sins worthy of death under the Law of Moses.


    IIrc Mosaic law required the testimony of 2 eyewitnesses to the event (whom the accused could confront and cross examine) and the majority opinion of a council of 70 judges. This may have meant that the mob had no right to punish her, but had to take the case to the Great Sanhedrin (which was filled with Saducees and Roman collaborators at the time). As this high court of Israel was closely watched by Roman authorities and stoning was illegal, there was no way to legally punish her.

    The Talmud only considers capital punishment legal if just before committing the crime the guilty party was Jewish and had been warned not to do so by 2 witnesses of good repute immediately before committing the crime while both witnesses stayed and watched.

    The Talmud also demands acquittal if the ruling was unanimous to convict, as that was a sign of bribing or group think. If that is the case, then perhaps Jesus's dissent was necessary in order to make the ruling valid, yet since everyone else had left the court's only remaining opinion was to let her go.

    It also says the punishment should be enforced not by simply hurling stones at someone, but by getting them drunk (to dull the pain), leading them to the top of a high cliff, and pushing them off in hope that they die on impact with the rocks below and do not suffer. If the impact did not kill them, then the two eye witnesses who made the accusation were supposed to throw the first stone, which was to be a large boulder which would likely kill the guilty party at once. Only after the eye-witness accusers had thrown the first stone and only if this failed to kill could the rest of the crowd begin to hurl smaller stones as in the popular view of stoning. I believe I've heard that the eye-witnesses were supposed to hold the robes of the other stoners once they began (which made holding their robes be synonymous with throwing the first stone and being a witness against them; holding the robes is how Paul describes his involvement in the stoning of the first Christian Martyr).


    Those who made false accusations (or was it even accusations for which they did not have sufficient evidence, even if true?) were also to be punished according to the penalty for the crime of which they accused others. According to Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel (who was the head of the Sanhedrin about 20 years after Christ's death), even when stoning was legal for all the various capital crimes in the Law of Moses it was rare for it to be used more than once every 70 years.
     
  16. Ziggy Stardust

    Ziggy Stardust New Englander

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    No question. Just popping in to give a :hatsoff: to the effort it must have taken to make those excellent Opening Posts.
     
  17. Gary Childress

    Gary Childress Student for and of life

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    First off a :hatsoff:. I agree with Ziggy, well done in setting up the intro posts to AaT III thread. Thank you for going through all the trouble. :)

    Another question: I forget who said it, maybe it was Martin Buber or Viktor Frankl, I can't recall. Anyway someone once said, essentially, that it makes little sense for Westerners, living in Western culture to convert to Eastern religions. The way I understand the quote is that learning Buddhism in a Christian society is sort of like learning Chinese in an English society. It may make for interesting scholarly pursuit but it isn't going to help you live better or understand Western culture as well as learning the "native religion" will. It won't help you understand or solve the problems of living in Western society to master Eastern Religion as much as learning the ways of Christianity. Different religions are perhaps tailored for different cultural conditions...or something along those lines. That is my best understanding of the quote.

    My question is, who said this and what exactly did he mean by it? Are you familiar with the quote?
     
  18. Eran of Arcadia

    Eran of Arcadia Stormin' Mormon Retired Moderator

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    Because he had no desire to see anyone stoned.

    He was qualified - he was the only one qualified - but he had no desire to see her stoned.

    Well, I speak not for theologians in general; this isn't even the official LDS view on the matter, but it makes sense to me . . .

    The point he was making about Mosaic Law was that it wasn't the final, ultimate source/authority of morality, that there were higher principles involved (as with his saying the two great commandments were "love God, and love your neighbor".) I think he was far from the only Jewish teacher to say this.

    Anyways, Plotinus will give you the answer you were actually looking for, I suppose.
     
  19. Eretz Yisrael

    Eretz Yisrael Korean Conscript

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    Hi, Plotinus, not sure if you remember me, but I have asked a few questions to you about theology.
    These days, a question kept bugging me: As a Protestant Christian (Evangelical), I feel very confused about the concept of Veneration, Hyperdulia, dulia. I studied some about saints, and viewed the comments upon the issue by Protestant theologians, and I am very appreciative of the role of the Virgin Mary (besides the Assumption to Heaven) as well as her character as a person, but in the end I think the question ends up here: Is there truely a boundary between different types of veneration in reality? All this theology, doesnt it kill faith(I remember Kierkkegaard mentioning such.)? But if the above question holds true, then how are Christians supposed to justify the various ecumenal councils held in order to stay true to the faith? Mariology has it points, but didnt the Bible mention Jeremiah warning Israelites who were worshiping Archangel Gabriel instead of God? Theosis and the Augustinian tradition of original sin both have their points, but which one is one to choose?
     
  20. Bill3000

    Bill3000 OOOH NOOOOOOO! Supporter

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    Who were the Waldensians, and why were they declared heretics?
     
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