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Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Plotinus, Feb 13, 2007.

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  1. Pessimus Dux

    Pessimus Dux Seeker

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    Plotinus, I have a question about Levicitus, the third book of Torah/Old Testament;
    I don't now how to phrase a question except in this blunt way:
    the laws that were written there - are they given by God Himself, or by a people (Moses, Aron...) who were inspired by Him? And another one, (whatever the answer on the 1st one is), in what context they must be viewed? For example, some texts in the Torah/Old Testament sounds very cruel when taken out of the context, but they have much more sense when historical environment and events are given into consideration.
     
  2. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    It's not a matter of "collision"; I'm interested in hearing any alternative explanations you have. I've never heard of any Orthodox theologian arguing that James' authority outstripped that of Peter or that the authority of the bishop of Jerusalem was greater than that of the bishop of Rome, but that doesn't mean none ever did - I'm hardly omniscient. So if you have any insight on that then feel free to share it.

    I didn't say that politics wasn't important. I said only that what I was talking about wasn't politics. Of course church politics has had an influence upon the course of theology - I didn't deny that at any point.

    That's not what most people mean by "politics", which I admit has a number of different meanings, but not that, I'd say. You wouldn't call what we're doing here "politics", would you? But there's no point arguing over a word. If you want to call any social interaction "politics" then yes, what I was talking about was politics - but then, so is pretty much everything.

    That's not a question that a historian can answer - obviously different people would have different answers to that and I don't know how one could choose between them. If you look at my first post in this thread you should be able to guess what my view would be. If you want to know what Christians have believed on that matter, then different people have again believed different things - everything from believing that the words of Leviticus itself were directly inspired by God to believing that they reflect only the author's beliefs and shouldn't be taken as authoritative at all.

    I'm not sure what you mean by asking in what context they "must" be viewed. That depends on what your purpose in viewing them is! Any historical text should be understood in its historical context, as far as possible, if you want to understand what the author intended to mean by it.
     
  3. Sidhe

    Sidhe Chieftain

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    Actually that's nowhere near what I was trying to say I was trying to say that the schizm might have been bought about by a conflict over who had the power rather than who was most powerful. Ie was Peter the rock or was James equally a rock. And if so why should power not be equally shared or why should the Pope have more power. What I meant by inferring James was that he was the first leader of the Orthodox church now that would have been retrospectively but he was the first Bishop of Jerusalem. To be honest we weren't really in conflict about anything, it's just a misunderstanding.

    Not much different than a disagreement on how much opaque waffle the guy I was talking about early talks. To you it's all clear and concise, to me it's a load of waffle that could be summed up in one sentence. Maybe two if he really felt the need to go all analytical on the word propaganda, which I thought given the context at the time was completely pointless.
     
  4. Perfection

    Perfection The Great Head.

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    Who's the most under-rated theologian in history?
     
  5. Mknn

    Mknn Chieftain

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    Why, Plotinus, of course ...
     
  6. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    [Sidhe] I hate to keep picking at this scab, but I'm puzzled: if you couldn't understand what that theologian was saying, how do you know that it was just waffle that could be summed up in a sentence or two? Conversely, if you know that it could be summarised like that, why did you complain before that you simply couldn't understand it?

    [Perfection] Well other than me, I think Marius Victorinus ought to be more well known than he is. His problem was that he was exceptionally difficult to understand, so not many people read him. I also think that Louis Chardon deserves to be better known; only one of his books has been re-published since the seventeenth century, but he's pretty interesting.
     
  7. Pessimus Dux

    Pessimus Dux Seeker

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    Yes, I want to know what Christians have believed; to be more precise: what is the official opinion/interpretation of both Jewish and Christian Church. I know that same text can be viewed differently, although alternative interpretations are often just reinterpretations.

    Same as above, by the therm "must" I'm referring to the opinion of the officials.
     
  8. Eran of Arcadia

    Eran of Arcadia Stormin' Mormon Retired Moderator

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    Pretty much every Christian church will have a different interpretation, many allow for different interpretations within the church itself, and there is no one "official" Christian church.
     
  9. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Entangled Retired Moderator Supporter

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    Sidhe, the problem is that you create confusion and language issues where none exist. Your first uote from theologian X was perectly clear. Plotinus' posts were equally clear and on target. It appears that you are just trying to cloud the issues (by redefining words) to keep some agenda you have alive. I suggest that you just accept Plotinus' answers as correct and adjust your thinking accordingly.:)
     
  10. Pessimus Dux

    Pessimus Dux Seeker

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    I see. Well, in that case, the question would be: what was the interpretation of Christians before they split between Catholics and Orthodox Christians?
    AND, as I mentioned before, what is the Jewish opinion, at least the "mainstreamed" one? Sorry for being annoying maybe, but I'm curious.

    And as for this Peter/James discussion (yes, I realize that discussion has gone into another direction but...) No one denies the fact that Jesus proclaimed Peter explicitly as a Pope of the newly estabilished Church, all written in NT, Matthew 16:18 and John 21, 15-16. ALL Christian churches consider them a saint and associate him with the foundation of Church in Rome, even if the differ on the significance of this and of the Pope in present-day Christianity.
     
  11. caketastydelish

    caketastydelish 49ers 2019

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    1. I heard that both Zoroastranism(sp)? and Mitheraism(sp)? came from Persia. Is that true?
    2. Which is older, Mitheraism or Zoatranism?
    3. Are they related to each other in some way?
     
  12. Erik Mesoy

    Erik Mesoy Core Tester / Intern

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    I seem to recall something about one of the Church Fathers writing that God is the "unsignifying significant" and meaning that everything else in the universe is part of chains of symbology that eventually point back to God. Who, if anyone, was this, and is there some kind of context and/or source material you can point me to? Or is it more likely that I'm just misremembering something?
     
  13. Mithadan

    Mithadan Wandering Woodsman

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    Handy to have this reference, so (belatedly) thanks!
     
  14. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    Well, first, the "different churches" point isn't just about the different denominations; it would also apply to different groups and individuals even within them. That goes for the time before the Catholic/Orthodox divide too. Don't forget that Christians have always disagreed with each other about quite fundamental things, from New Testament times onwards. Also, the first great division within Christendom was not that between Catholic and Orthodox, but the fifth-century split between the Chalcedonian and the non-Chalcedonian churches, which were also split among themselves (Monophysites, Nestorians, etc).

    Anyway, most Christians in that period would certainly have thought that the words attributed to God in the Old Testament were literally spoken by him (or at least on his behalf, perhaps by the Logos or by an angel). That went for the laws of Leviticus too. But most of them would have thought that these laws were not binding upon Christians, at least after the first century AD when Paul's views on this matter were definitive.

    There were some who disagreed, though. The Marcionites believed that the God of the Old Testament was evil, and distinct from the loving God of the New Testament, so they rejected the Old Testament completely and removed the excessively Jewish bits from the New Testament. The Marcionite churches were popular and were still around in the fourth or fifth centuries, and perhaps even later. Many gnostics also believed something similar. So for these people, the laws of Leviticus would have been laid down by the evil or ignorant deity of the Old Testament, and not by the Christian God at all.

    I'm afraid I can't tell you anything about Jewish interpretations, though.

    I think an awful lot of people would deny that; the title "Pope" does not appear in any of the passages you mention, and the extent and nature of Peter's power is not fully specified in any of them. That's quite apart from the argument over the extent to which these passags apply to Peter's successors, of course. And finally, you can't be certain that these events took place at all. Certainly I think most scholars would be very dubious about the historicity of John 21 and I'm sure a lot would be about Matthew 16 too. So one could certainly deny that Jesus said anything like this to Peter, and even if one thought that he did, one could deny that he meant anything like what papal apologists have argued he did since the fourth century (it was Damasus I who first argued that Matthew 16:18 applied to all of Peter's successors at Rome).

    I don't know enough about it to say. However, the origins of Mithraism are highly debated by scholars. Basically, Mithraism is known to have existed from the late first or early second century AD until the fourth or fifth; it existed within the Roman empire and can be understood as one of the mystery religions. It was inspired by Persian religion to at least some extent. Mithras - the central figure of Mithraism - was based upon a Persian god called Mitra, who had been worshipped in Persia for about a thousand years before the birth of Jesus. So it had Persian roots, and Mithraist temples show that worshippers were aware of these roots and even celebrated them: Mithras is always portrayed as wearing a distinctive Persian hat. But it doesn't follow from this that other elements of the religion were Persian or very ancient. And scholars disagree over whether Mithraism was basically the cult of Mitra transferred to the Roman empire (in which case it was a very ancient religion) or whether it really originated in the Roman empire but with elements taken from Persian religion (in which case it didn't really exist before the first or second centuries AD). I think today scholars tend towards the latter, but I don't know a great deal about it.

    Either way, I think Zoroastrianism is older than Mithraism, even on the assumption that Mithraism was not a Roman invention. I certainly can't tell you anything about how they might have related to each other, though, except that I'm sure that's something scholars can't agree about either.

    I haven't been able to find anything like this. It reminds me of Irenaeus' claim that Jesus is the invisible (God) made visible, and even more of Marius Victorinus that God is mere potentiality (he transcends actuality) but Jesus is that potential made actual. Maybe that's what you're thinking of?

    Alternatively, perhaps you're thinking of the hierarchies of Pseudo-Dionysius, according to which every individual in the ecclesiastical and celestial hierarchies reflects the source of those hierarches (God) in some way:

    That's the closest parallel I can think of to your semiotic chains. I don't think any of the church fathers said anything quite like what you're suggesting, though.
     
  15. Pessimus Dux

    Pessimus Dux Seeker

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    Well, the title "pope" certainly does not appear in those passages; however, it could be red indirectly from (part of) the sentence: "...and on this rock I will build my church...". On the other hand, I agree with you that both historical accuracy of the sentence and the original meaning of it are questionable.

    Btw, thanx for clearing some things related to Levicticus. :) But what about Jesus' Law of Love? If the fulfillment of the Law is Love, doesn't it make Levicticus (at least partially) obsolete? At least when punishment ("stone them to death" etc.) is an isssue?
     
  16. Ur_Vile_Wedge

    Ur_Vile_Wedge Chieftain

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    At least the Orthodox Jewish perspective. (I can't speak for Reform and Conservatives.) is that everything in the Five books (in English I think they're Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deutoronomy. I usually think of them in Hebrew, so it's a bit weird for me) are directly dictated by God. All the subsequent prophets and chronicles, things like Samuel, Isiah, Ruth, Esther and the like are divinely inspired, but not divinely dictated.

    I'm not sure what you mean by context. Could you please elaborate? ( I came to this thread recently)


    Hope that helps
     
  17. Erik Mesoy

    Erik Mesoy Core Tester / Intern

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    Then I'm probably misremembering the source. I'll try asking my priest on Sunday and see if he's heard of it. Thanks for the effort, anyway. The second is definitely much closer to what I was thinking of.

    Hee. I think of them in Norwegian half the time, where they're named "First Mosesbook, Second Mosesbook... Fifth Mosesbook" so I have sympathy for you.
     
  18. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    Right, although I don't think the title "Pope" is even implied there; remember it means "father". It might be worth mentioning that other patriarchs were also addressed as "Pope", the main one being the patriarch of Alexandria. In fact, as head of the Coptic Church today, he retains that title.

    Yes, and there are various ways in which Christians have rationalised this. One is to see the Mosaic Law as a sort of stop-gap, given by God as a temporary solution to moral problems until Jesus came along. On this view it had a divinely-ordained role but is now obsolete. Another is to distinguish between "ritual law" and "moral law", and to say that the former is obsolete (because Jesus' sacrifice deals with all sins, so there is no need for other sacrifices etc) but the latter is still in force. On this view one can simply assign any bits of the Mosaic Law that seem to contradict Jesus (or which one doesn't like) to the "ritual law", and keep any bits that one does like as "moral law". If one thought that the law about stoning people were unacceptable in the light of Jesus' teaching, one could argue that this were part of the "ritual law" (stoning might be something done not so much to punish the sinner as to cleanse the community of their sin) and therefore obsolete.

    The "ritual law"/"moral law" distinction is part of traditional Catholicism today, and I've heard many Protestants invoke it too as an unquestionable fact, but it's completely unbiblical. I actually have no idea when it first emerged. It is sometimes argued that Paul seems at least implicitly to work with some such distinction, but if he does it is not one that he makes explicitly; indeed, if he had, it would have helped him to avoid the torturous wranglings he got himself into over the Law (compare his views on the matter in Romans and Galatians).

    Ah, Germanic languages, can't beat them! It might be worth mentioning that, in antiquity, Christians did not doubt for a second that Moses really was the author of the Pentateuch. What's more remarkable is that pagan commentators seem largely to have accepted this attribution, and even more amazing, some seem to have accepted the Christian claim that Moses wrote earlier than Plato and that Plato nicked his best ideas from Moses. Hence the famous statement of Numenius: "What is Plato, but Moses speaking Attic Greek?" Of course, Moses didn't really write any of these books, something which ought to have been fairly clear from the fact that he dies at one point.
     
  19. Pessimus Dux

    Pessimus Dux Seeker

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    You phrased the answer very clearly, it helps A LOT, thnx. :) About that context thing... well, you see, I was debating recently with some people who were claiming that "our God is a very cruel because he asked Abraham to sacrifice his son" (by the therm "our God", they were referring to Yahweh). I tried to explain them meaning(s) of the story, I think there is no need to explain that to you :). MY POINT is that some of the laws (and events from Torah/Old Testament) sounds very harsh to us in the modern ages, but how did they sound THEN, 3000 or 4000 years before? What were the laws of Hebrew's neighbours, a laws from ancient Egypt, Babylon, Philistine?

    Oh btw, "I usually think of them in Hebrew..." don't need to tell more. I'm a Croat and I can better understand a Hebrew than an English titles, at least when Torah/Old Testament is an issue...:D

    [Plotinus] Thank you VERY much, you really explained it to the core. IMHO, the easiest way to deal with it is to just put the Law of Love on the top ("the fulfillment"), and all other laws subjugated to that one.
     
  20. Maimonides

    Maimonides Chieftain

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    Pessimus Dux, Plotinus & Ur_Vile_Wedge seem to have answered this, but perhaps you can tell us exactly which Torah laws you are asking about. Each one might have a different answer. For example, the laws pertaining to the Temple in Jerusalem can't be observed because the Temple no longer exists.

    There are 613 Commandments from G-d in the Torah. Secular & Reform Jews observe a handful of them. Very religious Jews try to observe all of them-resulting in a lifestyle that's very alien to secular or non-Jewish people.

    Judaism doesn't really have "officials" any more. We have rabbis & some groups have rebbes. Rabbis are trained & ordained clergy. Some of them lead congregations, some are educators, some make their living in the secular world. Rebbes are like rabbis except that they are an exclusively Ashkenazic institution & some of them have hereditary titles. In some places, the rabbis form councils or associations & elect a leader. This is how you get a "head rabbi of Jerusalem," for example. If a rabbi or rebbe gets too kooky, we just find another one.

    Only if you're a Chistian.

    Judaism hasn't enforced criminal law since ancient times. Today, we defer to the laws of wherever we live in criminal matters so you won't see us stoning anyone for anything anymore.

    We still have Jewish courts called "gets." Gets usually exist for handling Jewish divorces. They do not supercede civil law (you still need to have your divorce recognized by the government). They just make sure things like that are also handled according to Jewish law.

    Gets will also settle disputes between individuals, but that happens rarely outside of very observant communities. Usually, we use the normal court systems for lawsuits these days. Gets were a much more important institution for Jewish communities in the not so distant past when Jews could not go to their governments for services such as fair courts.

    That's interesting. Judaism also recognizes the distinction of ritual laws. Many of them are related to the Temple & so no longer observed, but some, such as hand washing before a meal or ritual bathing for women after their menstruation cycle, continue to be observed.

    Wow. I've never heard it claimed that any writings all could be attributed to Moses. I'd think they'd realize that he dies long before the end of the Torah as you point out.

    That incident was hardly cruel. According to the story, G-d stops the sacrifice at the last instant so no harm was done at all. It's a story about a test of faith.

    Again, which laws are you refering to?

    That's a HUGE question to answer & you probably won't get it answered here unless we have an archaeologist who is very active on these forums.

    Egypt, Babylon & Philistia had very different cultures, too. I know that the Philistines had several independant kings who made & enforced their own laws. They were never united. Egypt had pharonic laws that could change with each new pharoah. Each culture would have had different religious & traditional practices as well.

    A big difference would have been that Judaism was monotheistic while those other cultures were not (except for a brief period in Egypt). Judaism's center was the Temple in Jerusalem while the others had temples to various gods all over the place with each god requiring different things of believers. That is like comparing apples to oranges.
     
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