Daniel's vision of four beasts (Daniel 7)
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16-06-2015, 01:12 PM
RE: Daniel's vision of four beasts (Daniel 7)
(16-06-2015 09:54 AM)Learner Wrote:  
(16-06-2015 09:14 AM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  Obviously HE takes "prophecy" very seriously.
The POINT is the 4th beast .... ("oh you beast") could be ANYTHING. They invented it so that could "postdictum" whatever they chose later to say it was. The entire book of Daniel was PRE-dated to make it look like what was written POST, was a PRE-diction. Arguing with Fundies is a worthless enterprise.

"Never argue with a fool. Onlookers may not be able to tell the difference".

Bucky Ball,

Well, I do take "prophecy" seriously...in a sense...not that it's possible to see the future, but I "take prophecy seriously" in the sense that my friends and family members who are still Christians take it seriously, and so I take it seriously from a historical-critical point of view to show errors in prophecy, contradictions in the Bible, etc, etc. So far in discussions with my friends, I've had a lot more useful and non-offensive discussion when discussing some points from historical-criticism with them rather than just saying, "Ah, Bible prophecy is just a bunch of bullshitting." Some atheists blow off the Bible because it's a man-made book like anything else, but I continue to find the Bible interesting to read and better understand it as a prejudiced, contradictory, fallible human book...and find it freeing and refreshing coming out of Christianity as I see it more in this light, especially coming out of fundamentalist Christianity.

I'm an atheist and like reading the Bible as well. But I also minored in Sociology--so that is why I enjoy reading it from that perspective.
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16-06-2015, 01:16 PM
RE: Daniel's vision of four beasts (Daniel 7)
(16-06-2015 01:12 PM)jennybee Wrote:  
(16-06-2015 09:54 AM)Learner Wrote:  Bucky Ball,

Well, I do take "prophecy" seriously...in a sense...not that it's possible to see the future, but I "take prophecy seriously" in the sense that my friends and family members who are still Christians take it seriously, and so I take it seriously from a historical-critical point of view to show errors in prophecy, contradictions in the Bible, etc, etc. So far in discussions with my friends, I've had a lot more useful and non-offensive discussion when discussing some points from historical-criticism with them rather than just saying, "Ah, Bible prophecy is just a bunch of bullshitting." Some atheists blow off the Bible because it's a man-made book like anything else, but I continue to find the Bible interesting to read and better understand it as a prejudiced, contradictory, fallible human book...and find it freeing and refreshing coming out of Christianity as I see it more in this light, especially coming out of fundamentalist Christianity.

I'm an atheist and like reading the Bible as well. But I also minored in Sociology--so that is why I enjoy reading it from that perspective.

Agree. Once you get that it's pretty much all political propaganda, and one side taking pot-shots at the other guy, it is kinda interesting. There is a reason everything is there. It's not what ya think tho.

http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/forum/...#pid200852

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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16-06-2015, 01:47 PM
RE: Daniel's vision of four beasts (Daniel 7)
(16-06-2015 12:44 PM)Tonechaser77 Wrote:  Christians today take those prophesies and make them esoteric by attempting to smuggle in some ridiculous hidden meaning given by the holy spirit which completely degrades their original intent.

Tonechaser77, I agree with your analysis, and I found this specific part spot-on. One of the things that frustrated me so much about fundies (as I was leaving Christianity) is all the wishy-washy single VS double fulfillment ideas about prophecy, specifically in regards to the "Messiah." Take Isaiah 7's "a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and you shall call his name Immanuel, God with us." I remember asking some fundies that if they interpreted this as a double fulfillment (a child both in King Ahaz's day as well as about the coming Messiah), then if they believed there were supposedly two virgin births in the Bible (assuming they're using the Septuagint and not the Hebrew, haha)...because I thought the idea laughable some could say this was a single fulfillment passage, which would essentially render the context meaningless. But some fundies were so ridiculous as to say Isaiah 7 is only about the Messiah. Um, no. Isaiah was comforting King Ahaz that by the time a child to be born soon was an age of discretion, the forces of Assyria would be destroyed...NOT, "Now listen, king, you're about to die from the combined forces of Assyria and Israel. But God's gonna get this virgin pregnant in 600 years and Jesus is gonna come and save people from going to hell that believe on him. Comforting, huh?" (Note: I'm speaking just in terms of what the text says, not a historical-critical analysis.)
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16-06-2015, 01:51 PM
RE: Daniel's vision of four beasts (Daniel 7)
(16-06-2015 01:05 PM)jennybee Wrote:  I think a good Bible Commentary book written by scholars is a good way to decipher the more difficult passages in the Bible. I use the IVP Bible Background Commentary by Walton, Matthews, and Chavalas. They are Christian scholars--but they do not deviate from facts and go into woo territory.

In the Bible Commentary, they mention the Shumma Izbu (circa 400 BCE -200 BCE)--which is a Babylonian omen series. It is thought by some scholars that this is where Daniel got his "ideas" about creatures with multiple heads/horns etc. The Shumma Izbu "omens" would use birth abnormalities in sheep or goats as a way to predict upcoming events. Beast imagery is also found in Akkadian literature and symbols of animals with wings were common in Persia, Mesopotamia, Assyria, and Babylon at this time. The point is, Daniel's dream imagery was not so far off or unique from the cultures all around him.

I also really like Bart Ehrman's The Bible a Historic and Literary Introduction. Ehrman mentions the first beast is Babylon, second-Media, third-Persia, and fourth --Greece. The little horn is Antiochus and the ten horns are the kings of the Hellenistic Seleucid dynasty. Why horns? According to the Bible Commentary, this was common practice for Mesopotamian kings or gods to wear crowns with horns on them.

jennybee, thanks for the commentary referral. I'll have to get that. I also want to get the Oxford annotated bible as a quick go-by.

That's fascinating what you said about where Daniel may have gotten some of these ideas. I'll look into that.

I've actually been specifically thinking about getting that book by Ehrman. I already have his textbook on the New Testament, so I assume there'd be some repeat, but I really want to read the Old Testament portion. Good to hear you like the book and have found it helpful.
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16-06-2015, 02:27 PM
RE: Daniel's vision of four beasts (Daniel 7)
(16-06-2015 01:51 PM)Learner Wrote:  
(16-06-2015 01:05 PM)jennybee Wrote:  I think a good Bible Commentary book written by scholars is a good way to decipher the more difficult passages in the Bible. I use the IVP Bible Background Commentary by Walton, Matthews, and Chavalas. They are Christian scholars--but they do not deviate from facts and go into woo territory.

In the Bible Commentary, they mention the Shumma Izbu (circa 400 BCE -200 BCE)--which is a Babylonian omen series. It is thought by some scholars that this is where Daniel got his "ideas" about creatures with multiple heads/horns etc. The Shumma Izbu "omens" would use birth abnormalities in sheep or goats as a way to predict upcoming events. Beast imagery is also found in Akkadian literature and symbols of animals with wings were common in Persia, Mesopotamia, Assyria, and Babylon at this time. The point is, Daniel's dream imagery was not so far off or unique from the cultures all around him.

I also really like Bart Ehrman's The Bible a Historic and Literary Introduction. Ehrman mentions the first beast is Babylon, second-Media, third-Persia, and fourth --Greece. The little horn is Antiochus and the ten horns are the kings of the Hellenistic Seleucid dynasty. Why horns? According to the Bible Commentary, this was common practice for Mesopotamian kings or gods to wear crowns with horns on them.

jennybee, thanks for the commentary referral. I'll have to get that. I also want to get the Oxford annotated bible as a quick go-by.

That's fascinating what you said about where Daniel may have gotten some of these ideas. I'll look into that.

I've actually been specifically thinking about getting that book by Ehrman. I already have his textbook on the New Testament, so I assume there'd be some repeat, but I really want to read the Old Testament portion. Good to hear you like the book and have found it helpful.

I think you will like Ehrman's book. He really stresses the prophecies that the prophets came up with were referring to the goings-on of their own time--past/present/near future of *their time.* They were not predictions of things happening hundreds of years later.
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16-06-2015, 02:34 PM
RE: Daniel's vision of four beasts (Daniel 7)
The Book of Daniel is often paired with the Book of Revelation as providing the road map of future end-time events. Many alleged prophecies in Daniel were fulfilled, but is that because Daniel was a divinely inspired seer? Critical scholars see a more mundane explanation. Daniel might actually be a Jew from the Hellenistic period, not a person from the Babylonian court. His so-called prophecies were made ex eventu, or after the fact, so that he could pass himself off as a genuine seer. The book itself betrays more than one author. Chapters 1–6 were written in Aramaic, while chapters 7–12 are in Hebrew. Daniel makes many historical errors when talking about the Babylonian period, the time in which he supposedly lived. For example, he claims that Belshazzar was the son of Nebuchadnezzar, but the Nabonidus Cylinder found in Ur names Nabonidus as Belshazzar’s actual father.

Also, Belshazzar was a crown prince but never a king, contrary to Daniel’s claim. In Daniel 5:30, Daniel writes that a certain Darius the Mede conquered Babylon. It was actually Cyrus the Great, a Persian and not a Mede, who overthrew Babylon. On the other hand, Daniel writes about events of the Hellenistic era with extreme accuracy. Chapter 11, presented as prophecy, is on the mark in every detail. This leads to the conclusion that Daniel was witness to these events but not to those of the Babylonian period, on which he is vague and unfamiliar.

Scholars thus place the writings of Daniel at around 167–164 B.C., during the persecution of the Jews by Syrian tyrant Antiochus Epiphanes. The book was meant as inspirational fiction to encourage the Jews in their time of trial. Daniel did take a shot at making a real prophecy, predicting the death of Antiochus in the Holy Land. This genuine prophecy turned out to be wrong. Antiochus actually died in Persia in 164 B.C.

Traditionally ascribed to Daniel himself, modern scholarly consensus considers the book pseudonymous, the stories of the first half legendary in origin, and the visions of the second the product of anonymous authors in the Maccabean period (2nd century BCE). Its exclusion from the Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Twelve) was probably because it appeared after the canon for those books had closed, and the dominant view among scholars is that Daniel is not in any case a prophetic book but an apocalypse.

Daniel is one of a large number of Jewish apocalypses, all of them pseudonymous. Although the entire book is traditionally ascribed to Daniel the seer, chapters 1–6 are in the voice of an anonymous narrator, except for chapter 4 which is in the form of a letter from king Nebuchadnezzar; only the second half (chapters 7–12) is presented by Daniel himself, introduced by the anonymous narrator in chapters 7 and 10. The real author/editor of Daniel was probably an educated Jew, knowledgeable in Greek learning, and of high standing in his own community. It is possible that the name of Daniel was chosen for the hero of the book because of his reputation as a wise seer in Hebrew tradition.

Daniel's exclusion from the Hebrew bible's canon of the prophets, which was closed around 200 BCE, suggests it was not known at that time, and the Wisdom of Sirach, from around 180 BCE, draws on almost every book of the Old Testament except Daniel, leading scholars to suppose that its author was unaware of it. Daniel is, however, quoted by the author of a section of the Sibylline Oracles commonly dated to the middle of the 2nd century BCE, and was popular at Qumran beginning at much the same time, suggesting that it was known and revered from the middle of that century.

The actual historical setting of the book is clear from chapter 11, where the prophecy is accurate down to the career of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, king of Syria and oppressor of the Jews, but not in its prediction of his death: the author knows about Antiochus' two campaigns in Egypt (169 and 167 BCE), the desecration of the Temple (the "abomination of desolation"), and the fortification of the Akra (a fortress built inside Jerusalem), but he knows nothing about the reconstruction of the Temple or the actual circumstances of the death of Antiochus in late 164. Chapters 10–12 must therefore have been written between 167 and 164 BCE. There is no evidence of a significant time lapse between those chapters and chapters 8 and 9, and chapter 7 may have been written just a few months earlier again. (Wiki)

Now the good stuff:

Today the consensus of scholars understands the whole book of Daniel to be put together by an author editor who first collected traditional stories in chapters 1-6 about the boy hero Daniel showing his courage during the persecutions of exile, and added to them the visions of chapters 7 – 12 that predicted the coming end of Antiochus Epiphanes and his persecution. This kind of writing is called a Vaticinium ex eventu, a “prediction after the fact,” in which an author creates a character of long ago and puts into his mouth as predictions all the important events that have already happened right to the author’s own time and place. The language is often coded with symbolic animals and colors and dates to protect its message from the persecuting authorities. Its focus is not on predicting the future, but getting some meaning to present happenings by explaining the past events that led up to this terrible situation (Boadt 1984, p509).

To achieve such an important purpose, the authors mixed historical facts with older religious traditions and even pagan myths (Boadt 1984, p509).

It is important to note that the entire book claims to take place in the sixth century BC and to report a series of visions that come to the boy Daniel, who is remarkable for his great wisdom and his ability to receive divine revelation about the future. Very few scholars today, however, believe that this book originated in any way during the days of the Babylonian exile. And the ones who do usually have a very difficult time explaining the references to historical people and places which seem to be grossly wrong.

Darius the Mede is called the son of Xerxes in 5:31 and 9:11, both are wrong:

Darius was not a Mede but a Persian and the father of Xerxes. Belshazzar is called the king of Babylon in chapter 7 and the son of Nebuchadnezzar in chapter 5. He was neither: he was only crown prince under his father Nabonidus.

In chapter 6 Cyrus succeeds Darius as King of the Persians. This too has history backward, since Cyrus was the founder of the Persian dynasty. The author seems to be quite confused about his facts and either lived long afterward or else intended the giant bloopers to warn the audience that what follows is not intended as history but a story of faith; similar to the approach of the book of Judith (Boadt 1984, p508).

Although the book of Daniel was supposed to have been written during the Babylonian exile by an official of King Nebuchadnezzar, modern scholars date its writings to the second century BCE. The reasons for this include:

• It is listed in the writings of the Jewish canon, rather than the Prophets. This indicates that Daniel was written after the collection of prophetic books had been closed (sometime after 300 B.C.E.)
• Parts of the book (2.4 – 7.28) were written in Aramaic, which suggest a later date when Aramaic had become the common language.
• The author of Daniel used Persian and Greek words that would not have been known to residents Babylon in the sixth century BCE.
• The book contains numerous historical inaccuracies when dealing with sixth century B.C.E. Babylonian history. Such mistakes would not have been made by an important official of King Nebuchadnezzar.
• Daniel is the only book in the Old Testament in which angels are given names (such as Gabriel in 8.16 and 9.21 and Michael and 10.13, 10.21, and 12.1). Elsewhere in the Bible, names for angels only appear in the Apocrypha and the New Testament.
• The absence of Daniel’s name in the list of Israel’s great men in Ecclesiasticus.
• Nebuchadrezzar is spelled Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel, which is the way the king’s name was spelled, under Greek influence, at a later time.
• In 2.2 the Kings wise men are called “Chaldeans.” But at the time of Nebuchadrezzar, “Chaldean” would have referred to the nationality. It was only centuries later that this word came to mean sorcerer or astrologer. (Wells 2013, p 1109)

Do you see how these books were put together not by whom you think, not when you think and how they are allegorical writings based on parables, meant to drive a message and purposely designed in a hubris attempt to give them credibility? This was the driving force for me losing my faith, an intelligent person can't ignore facts, and the facts have been laid out. The more I learned, the more I thought, the less I believed. Your thoughts?

Works cited:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Daniel

Boadt, L. (1984) Reading the Old Testament: An Introduction. New York. Paulist Press.

Wells, S. (2013) The skeptics annotated Bible. New York. SAB Books, LLC

"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
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17-06-2015, 07:33 AM (This post was last modified: 17-06-2015 07:39 AM by Learner.)
RE: Daniel's vision of four beasts (Daniel 7)
(16-06-2015 02:34 PM)goodwithoutgod Wrote:  Your thoughts?

Wow, thank you for that detailed response. You brought up a lot of great points with a lot of the other historical problems and contradictions in the book of Daniel as a whole. Good stuff, and definitely some more areas for me to look into and study. In terms of the first 6 chapters of Daniel, it makes a lot of sense as an atheist to view these as essentially a historic "novella", a fictional account, but in their original setting, the purpose of the stories were to demonstrate godly behavior for an Israelite living in exile in a foreign land...and you can see the overall moral similarities of the story of Daniel to like the story of Esther or the story of Joseph (all historical "novellas"). But I think some of the reason for the incorrect historical data in these first 6 chapters is due to the writer living a few hundred years later, so obviously the author wouldn't have the best historical information for creating a story. It's fascinating how little things like Greek spellings/words can be such a useful tool for further confirming the later date of these things. (Language used and spellings are really helpful when studying the New Testament too. Like with Jesus' discussion with Nicodemus in John 3, the word Jesus used for born "from above" or "of the spirit"...if I remember right...was a play on words with the Greek word used, but it only works in Greek, not Aramaic. Oops!)

Another fascinating aspect of the book of Daniel is that it's the first place in the Hebrew Bible that gives names to angels (Gabriel, Michael). Kinda odd if those angels had always existed and yet were first named here...

The most convincing argument, in my mind, for the late date (and after-the-event prophecies) is chapter 11's precision on every detail...except completely being wrong about everything regarding Antiochus' death. I do want to study more about the beasts vision to better understand the last kingdom as being Greece, which would make sense in light of the dating of the rest of the book and the fact that I don't believe real prophecy happens. I was listening to a lecture last night about how the Median empire never actually extended into the land of Israel...so this idea of 4 kingdoms that "Daniel" had must've clearly come from somewhere else (Greek influence or something, being somewhere outside of Israel - like you said, the author was probably an educated Jew knowledgeable in Greek learning).

I can relate to the driving force in your life for losing your faith, as that's the same thing that happened for me. The more I studied ALL the evidence (not just the fundamentalist cherry-picked evidence), the more I saw the facts just didn't line up. And the more I study critical thinking and logic, the more I see that the fundamentalist approach to the Bible and spurning historical-criticism is a classic example of special pleading.
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17-06-2015, 06:51 PM
RE: Daniel's vision of four beasts (Daniel 7)
(17-06-2015 07:33 AM)Learner Wrote:  
(16-06-2015 02:34 PM)goodwithoutgod Wrote:  Your thoughts?

Wow, thank you for that detailed response. You brought up a lot of great points with a lot of the other historical problems and contradictions in the book of Daniel as a whole. Good stuff, and definitely some more areas for me to look into and study. In terms of the first 6 chapters of Daniel, it makes a lot of sense as an atheist to view these as essentially a historic "novella", a fictional account, but in their original setting, the purpose of the stories were to demonstrate godly behavior for an Israelite living in exile in a foreign land...and you can see the overall moral similarities of the story of Daniel to like the story of Esther or the story of Joseph (all historical "novellas"). But I think some of the reason for the incorrect historical data in these first 6 chapters is due to the writer living a few hundred years later, so obviously the author wouldn't have the best historical information for creating a story. It's fascinating how little things like Greek spellings/words can be such a useful tool for further confirming the later date of these things. (Language used and spellings are really helpful when studying the New Testament too. Like with Jesus' discussion with Nicodemus in John 3, the word Jesus used for born "from above" or "of the spirit"...if I remember right...was a play on words with the Greek word used, but it only works in Greek, not Aramaic. Oops!)

Another fascinating aspect of the book of Daniel is that it's the first place in the Hebrew Bible that gives names to angels (Gabriel, Michael). Kinda odd if those angels had always existed and yet were first named here...

The most convincing argument, in my mind, for the late date (and after-the-event prophecies) is chapter 11's precision on every detail...except completely being wrong about everything regarding Antiochus' death. I do want to study more about the beasts vision to better understand the last kingdom as being Greece, which would make sense in light of the dating of the rest of the book and the fact that I don't believe real prophecy happens. I was listening to a lecture last night about how the Median empire never actually extended into the land of Israel...so this idea of 4 kingdoms that "Daniel" had must've clearly come from somewhere else (Greek influence or something, being somewhere outside of Israel - like you said, the author was probably an educated Jew knowledgeable in Greek learning).

I can relate to the driving force in your life for losing your faith, as that's the same thing that happened for me. The more I studied ALL the evidence (not just the fundamentalist cherry-picked evidence), the more I saw the facts just didn't line up. And the more I study critical thinking and logic, the more I see that the fundamentalist approach to the Bible and spurning historical-criticism is a classic example of special pleading.

You are very welcome. I enjoy the forensic analysis of the bible. It helps to eviscerate the copious amount of pseudepigrapha, fiction, fantasy, and forgery when you do the indepth research on the formation of each book and its various authors. What words are used, and what history is referenced are often telltales of when it was written, and sometimes by whom as far as cultural influences and demographics.

One of the books that I have found to be enormously helpful in my research is actually a catholic scholarly book, I highly recommend it. Catholic scholars don't embrace the myths, they say it is as the facts show it to be, rather than the apologetics exercised by mainstream Christianity.

Boadt, L. (1984) Reading the Old Testament: An Introduction. New York. Paulist Press.

"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
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18-06-2015, 07:10 AM
RE: Daniel's vision of four beasts (Daniel 7)
(17-06-2015 06:51 PM)goodwithoutgod Wrote:  You are very welcome. I enjoy the forensic analysis of the bible. It helps to eviscerate the copious amount of pseudepigrapha, fiction, fantasy, and forgery when you do the indepth research on the formation of each book and its various authors. What words are used, and what history is referenced are often telltales of when it was written, and sometimes by whom as far as cultural influences and demographics.

One of the books that I have found to be enormously helpful in my research is actually a catholic scholarly book, I highly recommend it. Catholic scholars don't embrace the myths, they say it is as the facts show it to be, rather than the apologetics exercised by mainstream Christianity.

Boadt, L. (1984) Reading the Old Testament: An Introduction. New York. Paulist Press.
I definitely enjoy the forensic analysis of the bible, too, I'm learning. I've spent so much of my life believing the Bible and not really knowing all the variety of issues with it, that I find it so intriguing to look at passages I supposedly knew so well before, but to now see the texts so clearly for what they really are. And I've seen myself grow in understanding/analysis with Bible texts I may not have studied yet from a historical-critical point of view, but knowing some of the tools I've learned about analyzing the text, it gives me an idea of things to look into and what some of the issues may be at hand. One of the things I especially appreciate about historical scholars (rather than traditionalist theologians) is that they are extremely careful to say only as much as the text is saying and what is clear, rather than conjecture based on traditionalist hermeneutics or whatever. Like I was listening to a lecture by Shaye Cohen (Harvard) on Daniel, and regarding the passage about the "Son of Man" in Daniel, he just said "I don't know what it's talking about"...but as a careful scholar, he says that about many things in the Hebrew Bible. I also appreciate the forensic analysis because although fundamentalists say that they affirm that the Bible wasn't written in a vacuum, they really are saying one thing and doing the other in this case. Whether the creation story, flood story, 4 kingdoms in Daniel, etc...the Hebrews clearly borrowed things or were influenced in their ideas by the nations around them, no doubt about it.

Thank you for the book recommendation! I'm always looking for other valuable resources along these lines for my library. I think very highly of scholars (whether religious or not) who stick to the facts even if they contradict or create issues with their belief system...that, in my mind, is a good example of intellectual integrity/honesty...when you go directly against your confirmation bias to be intellectually honest about the facts. (But, granted, I don't see how they can live with admitting contradictions to their belief system. In my opinion, taking intellectual honesty to its full extent would mean to leave that belief system, in my mind, but I realize people have a variety of belief systems that can account for imperfections and contradictions and such so they don't see an issue with these types of things.)
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18-06-2015, 04:34 PM (This post was last modified: 19-06-2015 10:35 AM by goodwithoutgod.)
RE: Daniel's vision of four beasts (Daniel 7)
(18-06-2015 07:10 AM)Learner Wrote:  
(17-06-2015 06:51 PM)goodwithoutgod Wrote:  You are very welcome. I enjoy the forensic analysis of the bible. It helps to eviscerate the copious amount of pseudepigrapha, fiction, fantasy, and forgery when you do the indepth research on the formation of each book and its various authors. What words are used, and what history is referenced are often telltales of when it was written, and sometimes by whom as far as cultural influences and demographics.

One of the books that I have found to be enormously helpful in my research is actually a catholic scholarly book, I highly recommend it. Catholic scholars don't embrace the myths, they say it is as the facts show it to be, rather than the apologetics exercised by mainstream Christianity.

Boadt, L. (1984) Reading the Old Testament: An Introduction. New York. Paulist Press.
I definitely enjoy the forensic analysis of the bible, too, I'm learning. I've spent so much of my life believing the Bible and not really knowing all the variety of issues with it, that I find it so intriguing to look at passages I supposedly knew so well before, but to now see the texts so clearly for what they really are. And I've seen myself grow in understanding/analysis with Bible texts I may not have studied yet from a historical-critical point of view, but knowing some of the tools I've learned about analyzing the text, it gives me an idea of things to look into and what some of the issues may be at hand. One of the things I especially appreciate about historical scholars (rather than traditionalist theologians) is that they are extremely careful to say only as much as the text is saying and what is clear, rather than conjecture based on traditionalist hermeneutics or whatever. Like I was listening to a lecture by Shaye Cohen (Harvard) on Daniel, and regarding the passage about the "Son of Man" in Daniel, he just said "I don't know what it's talking about"...but as a careful scholar, he says that about many things in the Hebrew Bible. I also appreciate the forensic analysis because although fundamentalists say that they affirm that the Bible wasn't written in a vacuum, they really are saying one thing and doing the other in this case. Whether the creation story, flood story, 4 kingdoms in Daniel, etc...the Hebrews clearly borrowed things or were influenced in their ideas by the nations around them, no doubt about it.

Thank you for the book recommendation! I'm always looking for other valuable resources along these lines for my library. I think very highly of scholars (whether religious or not) who stick to the facts even if they contradict or create issues with their belief system...that, in my mind, is a good example of intellectual integrity/honesty...when you go directly against your confirmation bias to be intellectually honest about the facts. (But, granted, I don't see how they can live with admitting contradictions to their belief system. In my opinion, taking intellectual honesty to its full extent would mean to leave that belief system, in my mind, but I realize people have a variety of belief systems that can account for imperfections and contradictions and such so they don't see an issue with these types of things.)

I agree, the more you learn, the more ridiculous it is.

By the way, here is a list of my go to books that sit on my quick reference shelf:

Xtian:

Boadt, L. (1984) Reading the Old Testament: An Introduction. New York. Paulist Press. (outstanding book, it takes great pains to be forensically accurate, to a fault, and as such, becomes a great weapon to discredit the OT)

Lieu, Samuel N. C., and Montserrat, Dominic, Constantine: History, Historiography, and Legend. London: Routledge, 2002. Print.

O'Collins, Gerald, Christology: A Biblical, Historical, and Systematic Study of Jesus. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. Print.

Mueller, J.J., Theological Foundations: Concepts and Methods for Understanding the Christian Faith. Winona: Anselm Academic, Christian Brothers Publications, 2011. Print.

Albl, Martin C. Reason, Faith, and Tradition: Explorations in Catholic Theology. Winona: Anselm Academic, Christian Brothers Publications, 2009. Print.

Stewart, Cynthia., The Catholic church: a brief popular history. Winona, Mn: Anselm Academic, Christian Brothers Publications, 2008. Print.

The Catholic Study Bible: The New American Bible 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University press, Inc., 2011. Print.

Moule, C. F. D., The birth of the New Testament. New York: Harper & Row, 1962. Print.

Mattison, Mark. “The Meaning of the Atonement.” Mark Mattison. 1987. Web. Retrieved from http://www.auburn.edu/~allenkc/openhse/atonement.html

Anselm, Evans, G. R., The Major Works. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc, 1998. Print.

Visser, Sandra and Williams, Thomas, Anselm. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc, 2009. Print.

Murray, John, The Atonement. Evansville: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1976. Print.

Dawson, Gerrit S. Jesus Ascended: The Meaning of Christ’s Continuing Incarnation. New Jersey: P&R publishing, 2004. Print.



Atheist:

Ehrman, Bart. Misquoting Jesus: The story behind who changed the bible and why. New York, Harper Collins. 2005. Print.

Carrier, Richard, On the historicity of jesus: why we might have reason for doubt. Sheffield, England: Sheffield Phoenix press, 2014. Print.

Wells, S. (2013) The skeptics annotated Bible. New York. SAB Books, LLC.

Hitchens, Christopher. God is not great: How religion poisons everything. New York, Hatchette Book Group inc. 2009. Print.

Hitchens, Christopher. Hitch 22: A memoir. New York, Hatchette Book Group inc. 2010. Print.

Hitchens, Christopher. The portable atheist: essential readings for the nonbeliever. Philadelphia, PA., Da Capo Press. 2007. Print.

Boghossian, Peter. A manual for creating atheists. Durham, NC. Pitchstone Publishing. 2013. Print.

Barker, Dan. Godless: how an evangelical preacher became one of america's leading atheists. Berkeley, CA. Bang Printing. 2008. Print.

Crossman, J. D. The power of parable: How fiction by jesus became fiction about jesus. New York. Harper Collins Publishers. 2012. Print.

Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The thinking person's answer to christian fundamentalism, makes the case against intelligent design. Berkeley, CA. Bang Printing. 2006. Print.

Pessin, Andrew. The god question: What famous thinkers from plato to dawkins have said about the divine. Oxford, England. Oneworld Publications. 2009. Print.

Bierlein, J.F. Parallel Myths: A fascinating look at the common threads woven through the world's greatest myths-and the central role they have played through time. New York. Ballantine Publishing Group. 1994. Print.

Helms, Randel. Gospel fictions. New York. Prometheus Books. 1988. Print.

Murdock, D. M. Did Moses exist? The myth of the Israelite lawgiver. Seattle. Stellar House Publishing. 2014. Print.

Price, Robert M. Deconstructing Jesus. New York. Prometheus Books. 2000. Print.


Neutral (sociologist)
Zuckerman, Phil. Society without god. New York. New York University press. 2008. Print.

"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
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