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Re: [XTalk] myth vs. history

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  • Daniel J. Gaztambide
    Dear Everyone, I can t help but to both agree and disagree with Jim West. On the one hand I emphathize with his assertion that God can t be put under a
    Message 1 of 21 , Dec 6, 2005
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      Dear Everyone,

      I can't help but to both agree and disagree with Jim West. On the one
      hand I emphathize with his assertion that "God can't be put under a
      microscope- and anything that can be put under a microscope isn't God."

      On the other, I can't help but notice that many religious traditions
      (including Christianity) make very strong historical claims, historical
      in the sense that they actually took place. Among them are healing
      miracles- God takes an action upon the body of a human being. I would
      agree with Jim West that God Him/Her/It-self could not be studied (How
      would you go about that? Try to capture God-molecules?), but these
      effects upon the "material world" might lend themselves to scientific
      study.

      For example, I'm working on a paper examining the healing miracles of
      Jesus. Within most historical reconstructions the question of miracles
      are bracketed outside and allowed an agnostic isolation. The reports
      within the NT tell us that in many cases people came to Jesus asking for
      healing, he asks them if they believe, they reply positively, and he
      declares them healed. Could their faith truly have healed their bodies?

      Now usually this is when we go "myth and history are interwined" and we
      can't study this phenomena. Recent research in psychoneuroimmunology,
      however, has shown that a belief can actually have an effect upon a
      person's physiology, from averting disease to causing or allowing greater
      susceptivility to a disease. With this kind of material as hermeneutic
      lens, we could theoretically study the healing miracles.

      God as a transcendental reality seems outside the realm of microscopes
      and test tubes... but what about the effects of this reality upon our
      reality? What might be gained or lost by trying to study THAT?

      Best,

      -Daniel J. Gaztambide

      On Tue, December 6, 2005 11:27 am, Jim West wrote:
      >
      >
      > Lisbeth S Fried wrote:
      > > Dear Jim,
      > >
      > > Could you please explain what you mean here?
      > >
      > > Any God that can
      > > be confined to history isn't worth worshipping.
      > >
      >
      > What I mean is that any God who can be confined to historical
      > categories, investigation, or scientific discovery, isn't really any
      > sort of God at all. God can't be put under a microscope- and anything
      > that can be put under a microscope isn't God.
      >
      > Best
      >
      > Jim
      >
      > --
      > D. Jim West
      > Biblical Studies Resources - http://web.infoave.net/~jwest
      > Biblical Theology Weblog - http://biblical-studies.blogspot.com
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      --
      Daniel Gaztambide

      http://profiles.yahoo.com/priestwguns777

      Henry Rutgers Scholar (Psychology and Religion)
      Rutgers University
      New Brunswick NJ 08901
      31045 RPO Way

      Writer/Co-writer, "AramaicNT.org"
      http://www.aramaicnt.org/site/index.php

      Moderator, "Aramaic Yahoo! Group"
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      ---
      Email: gazti@...
      AIM: priestwguns777
    • Lisbeth S. Fried
      I would have thought that any God that was not manifest in history was totally pointless. Liz Fried Ann Arbor _____ From: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com
      Message 2 of 21 , Dec 6, 2005
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        I would have thought that any God that was not manifest in history was
        totally pointless.

        Liz Fried

        Ann Arbor

        _____

        From: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com] On
        Behalf Of John C. Poirier
        Sent: Tuesday, December 06, 2005 1:41 PM
        To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: RE: [XTalk] myth vs. history



        Jim West wrote:

        > . . . [A]ny God who can be confined to historical
        > categories, investigation, or scientific discovery, isn't really any
        > sort of God at all. God can't be put under a microscope- and anything
        > that can be put under a microscope isn't God.

        Wouldn't it be better to say that such a God isn't really the God of
        *classical theism*, but he/she could be the God of biblical theism?


        John C. Poirier




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      • Bob Schacht
        ... Of course. This is the perspective of the writers of the Tanakh, which considers history to be what happened in the past. In the strong sense, this view
        Message 3 of 21 , Dec 7, 2005
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          At 03:57 PM 12/6/2005, Lisbeth S. Fried wrote:
          >I would have thought that any God that was not manifest in history was
          >totally pointless.
          >
          >Liz Fried

          Of course. This is the perspective of the writers of the Tanakh, which
          considers "history" to be what happened in the past. In the strong sense,
          this view was that history = what God did in the past, especially with
          regard to the People of the Covenant. That is, History = a summary of the
          Acts of God. Nothing else was considered very important.

          West is writing of "history" in a different sense, where history is a
          summary of the data from the past *after* it has been filtered by
          modernists, which removes every fingerprint of God in the process.

          Bob


          Robert M. Schacht, Ph.D.
          University of Hawaii
          Honolulu, HI

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • John C. Poirier
          ... Yes, I agree. Lest you misunderstand my point, I was lodging a complaint about how classical theism has screwed things up for modern theology, and
          Message 4 of 21 , Dec 7, 2005
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            Liz Fried wrote:

            > I would have thought that any God that was not manifest in history was
            > totally pointless.

            Yes, I agree. Lest you misunderstand my point, I was lodging a complaint
            about how classical theism has screwed things up for modern theology, and
            pointing out that the biblical view is of a God "manifest in history" (as
            you put it)--even to the point of experiencing time! Twentieth-century
            Anglo-American Christian theology doesn't seem to have a clue about any of
            this.

            I could go on, but this is not a theology list.


            John C. Poirier
          • Gordon Raynal
            ... Bob, This sort of post is veering into theology, but a couple things need noting: 1. First (and regarding a brief theological comment) save for those who
            Message 5 of 21 , Dec 7, 2005
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              On Dec 7, 2005, at 3:49 AM, Bob Schacht wrote:

              > At 03:57 PM 12/6/2005, Lisbeth S. Fried wrote:
              >> I would have thought that any God that was not manifest in history was
              >> totally pointless.
              >>
              >> Liz Fried
              >
              > Of course. This is the perspective of the writers of the Tanakh, which
              > considers "history" to be what happened in the past. In the strong
              > sense,
              > this view was that history = what God did in the past, especially with
              > regard to the People of the Covenant. That is, History = a summary of
              > the
              > Acts of God. Nothing else was considered very important.
              >
              > West is writing of "history" in a different sense, where history is a
              > summary of the data from the past *after* it has been filtered by
              > modernists, which removes every fingerprint of God in the process.

              Bob,

              This sort of post is veering into theology, but a couple things need
              noting:
              1. First (and regarding a brief theological comment) save for those
              who hold to plenary inspiration and complete literalism, I know of no
              theologians Christian or Jewish since the Enlightenment who would
              accept such a blanket statement as regarding the whole of TANAKH.
              Actually such a view that you are stating (I don't know if you truly
              hold to it?) is a very modern view that arose out of the
              Fundamentalist/ Modernist debates that began in the late 19th century.
              And, although I am not going to discuss it here as this is a historical
              list, the phrase "Acts of God" is, to say the very least, a very
              complicated phrase that needs careful parsing and not simply a phrase
              that helps one distinguish actual occurrences in space/ time and
              fictional/ mythic communications which aim to talk about the meaning of
              the "events," but do so in entirely through literary imagination.
              2. One major reason for this (that does have to do with this list) is
              that the actual literature of the TANAKH is inclusive of many genres of
              writing (<g> not to mention the book of Esther that doesn't even
              mention "God:)!:). To aver that the ancients, in general, and the
              Hebrew writers, in particular, didn't understand such as genre and such
              literary devices such as metaphor, irony, hyperbole, etc. is to not pay
              heed to the literature itself. Understanding such is absolutely vital
              to making sense of the literature we have. Whatever "events" one is
              wanting to hold onto as "factual occurrences," even with those a
              careful understanding of the communications about them requires a very
              careful literary and historical analysis for our access to them is
              through literature.
              3. Finally, I've said it before and I'll say it again: Fictional story
              telling has been and often is one of the most potent forms of
              theological communication.

              Gordon Raynal
              Inman, SC
            • John C. Poirier
              ... Gordon, I know Bob can fend for himself, but I think you have misunderstood what he said. He said that the writers of the Tanakh . . . consider[]
              Message 6 of 21 , Dec 7, 2005
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                Gordon Raynal wrote:

                > This sort of post is veering into theology, but a couple things need
                > noting:
                > 1. First (and regarding a brief theological comment) save for those
                > who hold to plenary inspiration and complete literalism, I know of no
                > theologians Christian or Jewish since the Enlightenment who would
                > accept such a blanket statement as regarding the whole of TANAKH.
                > Actually such a view that you are stating (I don't know if you truly
                > hold to it?) is a very modern view that arose out of the
                > Fundamentalist/ Modernist debates that began in the late 19th century.
                > And, although I am not going to discuss it here as this is a historical
                > list, the phrase "Acts of God" is, to say the very least, a very
                > complicated phrase that needs careful parsing and not simply a phrase
                > that helps one distinguish actual occurrences in space/ time and
                > fictional/ mythic communications which aim to talk about the meaning of
                > the "events," but do so in entirely through literary imagination.
                > 2. One major reason for this (that does have to do with this list) is
                > that the actual literature of the TANAKH is inclusive of many genres of
                > writing (<g> not to mention the book of Esther that doesn't even
                > mention "God:)!:). To aver that the ancients, in general, and the
                > Hebrew writers, in particular, didn't understand such as genre and such
                > literary devices such as metaphor, irony, hyperbole, etc. is to not pay
                > heed to the literature itself. Understanding such is absolutely vital
                > to making sense of the literature we have. Whatever "events" one is
                > wanting to hold onto as "factual occurrences," even with those a
                > careful understanding of the communications about them requires a very
                > careful literary and historical analysis for our access to them is
                > through literature.
                > 3. Finally, I've said it before and I'll say it again: Fictional story
                > telling has been and often is one of the most potent forms of
                > theological communication.

                Gordon,

                I know Bob can fend for himself, but I think you have misunderstood what he
                said. He said that "the writers of the Tanakh . . . consider[] 'history' to
                be what happened in the past". He did not say that the whole Hebrew Bible
                is historiography. I don't see how anything that Bob said emerges from the
                "Fundamentalist/ Modernist debate", and I don't see how any of it dispenses
                with the importance of understanding the literary aspects of the Hebrew
                Bible. If the earliest readers of (say) Jonah understood that it was just a
                parable, that would not detract from what they thought "history" was, or of
                how God related to history.


                John C. Poirier
              • Ernest Pennells
                [Bob Schacht] ... We might add that MYTH is more like MYTHtery than MYTHtake. Regards, Ernie Pennells Samaa el Maadi Tower No 2B Level 12 Apartment 4 28
                Message 7 of 21 , Dec 7, 2005
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                  [Bob Schacht]
                  >History is whatever people have decided to remember and record<

                  We might add that MYTH is more like MYTHtery than MYTHtake.

                  Regards,

                  Ernie Pennells
                  Samaa el Maadi Tower No 2B
                  Level 12 Apartment 4
                  28 Corniche el Nil
                  Cairo, Egypt
                  Tel: (20-2)526 6383 Mobile 0121001490
                  http://www.trafford.com/4dcgi/robots/03-1982.html
                • Bob Schacht
                  ... Hey, I like it! Bob [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  Message 8 of 21 , Dec 7, 2005
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                    At 04:09 AM 12/7/2005, Ernest Pennells wrote:
                    >[Bob Schacht]
                    > >History is whatever people have decided to remember and record<
                    >
                    >We might add that MYTH is more like MYTHtery than MYTHtake.

                    Hey, I like it!
                    <g>
                    Bob


                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • Richard Bartholomew
                    Radio National from Australia has a documentary on the Dead Sea Scrolls, focusing on Robert Eisenman - downloadable as an mp3 for the next few weeks:
                    Message 9 of 21 , Dec 8, 2005
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                      Radio National from Australia has a documentary on the
                      Dead Sea Scrolls, focusing on Robert Eisenman -
                      downloadable as an mp3 for the next few weeks:

                      http://www.abc.net.au/rn/relig/spirit/stories/s1521682.htm

                      Richard Bartholomew
                      (Osaka University)



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