Monday, July 19, 2010

The Bible: Can We Talk?

Although my posts may not be indicative of such, I am a Bible scholar. Tell me, what does 2009 A.D. mean? Be careful, it may be a popular opinion that it means after the death of Christ, but that’s not true.

Lets do the math. But first, lets go slow. A.D. is a Latin abbreviation for Anno domini, meaning in the year of our lord.

2009 - 2009 = 0

Ut oh, because B.C. is the English abbreviation for Before Christ, some people incorrectly conclude that A.D. must mean After Death, i.e., after the death of Jesus. If that were true, the thirty-three or so years of his life would not be in any era. Lets do that again.  BC equals zero.  Okay, add 33 years and what do we have?  Well, 0 plus 33 equals 33, not zero. Hence, A. D cannot mean after the death of Christ.

Although I study the bible, I seldom debate the Bible. I will debate facts but not someone’s opinion or interpretation of the Bible. That can be a fools errand leading to a furious fight. Hey, did you know that the books of the Bible were written over a span of nearly 3000 years. Granted, some of the time line is in question or debatable, however, it's safe to say (and a fact) that many church goers do not know the authors of each book, nor when they were written.

Case in point: Most individuals that use the Bible as a source of reference or guidance, has heard the story of Job. If asked the question who was Job, most would say he was a man of wealth who’s beliefs were tested. Okay, yet, was the question really answered? Who knows of Job’s genealogy? Who's the babies daddy and who's grandma?  In brief, the book of Job begins with an introduction to Job’s character– he is described as a blessed man who lives righteously.

There is a view among scholars that says Job never existed. In this view, Job was a literary creation by a prophet who used this form of writing to convey a divine message. On the other hand, many have gone to great lengths trying to ascertain when Job actually lived, citing many opinions and interpretations by the leading sages.

To further illustrate a point of contention regarding the book of Job, there’s no author assigned to this book. When it was written is also an uncertainty. The cultural and historical settings seem to reflect the second millennium B.C.. Some believe the story was passed down from generations and later put into writing. Different opinions aside, the story of Job addresses the question of suffering. The story vividly illustrates the inadequacy of human logic to explain the reality and nature of evil in the world.

Hey, I also listen to gospel music on a regular basis. I tap my feet and sing along, sometimes pretending to be the artist. In some songs, the lyrics are hard for me to feel because I do not believe them, or believe they are being used incorrectly. I was singing along with this one song and the words "many have prophesied that I wouldn’t be nothing", came across my speakers. He had to be speaking of a false prophet. Well, is not the words of a prophet, the words (inspirational vision) of God?

Also, the words bless, blessed and blessings can be found in over 500 places in the Bible. Although all can be used as a noun, adjective etc, they generally mean a bestowal of (often material) goods. Yet, I wonder if most people understand the words. When someone says a person is blessed, I wonder if they really know what they are saying? More so, aside from material goods, can another person give blessing to someone else? In the New Testament it often means the spiritual good bestowed by the gospel. I can say I am blessed, yet, with certainty, can another individual say I am blessed? What could they use as substance or a reference to that remark?

I am merely asking the questions, I have an opinion. Friends and I discuss the bible on a weekly basis. Today I just wanted to share some of that with you.

It's my opinion that many that do not read the Bible or do not believe in the Bible, may have an indifference with the belief of life after death. They may also have a problem with the creation of mankind. Harboring those feeling may impede their efforts to read the Bible or believe in it. Having said that, personally, I believe those rationalization are akin to someone not running a race because they believe they will not win. The rewards of running a race do not go to the swiftest. The winner of one race may win "that" race, yet he or she may not have seen the serendipitous rewards of simply running the race. Unlike the person that starts the race with a slim chance of winning, the runner with a narrow sight of victory and only feels victorious if he wins the race, has little chance of beating a thing called doubt and fear. If he doesn't win the race, doubt is his constant companion. If he doesn't start the race, doubt will kill him.
I do not view the Bible as a doctrine filled with dogmatic instructions. I use it as a source of guidance in my everyday life. Sometimes there's nobody to talk to. Sometimes there seems to be no answers to my problems and I don't know which way to go. Sometimes I have to lay my burdens on hope and gratitude's. I may not go to a life beyond this human existence (but there is a "phrase" that says "call those things that are not, as if they already are")  but I am trying to stay in the race with a good spirit and a healthy mind.  Some may disagree with my observations and that's understandable.


BigmacInPittsburgh said...

Thanks for your prepective Carey,I'm not a bible expert,but one thing I do believe is that there is a power in this world that is watching over me.A loving power,call that power what you wish I just believe.

uglyblackjohn said...

Some wish to get away from the Christian "AD" and instead use "B.C.E.".

But I view the Bible as two things;
The comment by Christ that the two main facets of religion are -
Love God with all thy heart,
and love thy neighbor as thyself.
Everthing else is just an example of how people have gone about doing those two things.

FreeMan said...

I am always torn between how some people take some parts and say these are just stories and then say the rest is truth. How can we know which is which? Is someone saying this really happened and this since we can't prove it must be a story?

Mizrepresent said...

Excellent post Carey/Carey, and i learned quite a few things from it. I am like you in many ways, i use the Bible for guidance too!

Nicki_nik said...

I'll be honest when I say I'm not one who goes to church because my mom never made us (although when she was growing up they went ALL the time), but I do possess a bible (apocrphya included) and I find the stories to be inspirational.

I don't really take it as the absolute truth because knowing that these writings were added over a span of 3,000 years who really knows whats true and what isn't? And to me it doesn't matter as long as you understand what the author(s) are trying to convey and how that can be applied to your life.

That's all I've ever done regarding the Bible is understand the lessons that should be learned and not really question its validity.

Good post...I'm stll waiting on my ribs! :P

jjbrock said...

Carey great article...The book of Job is one of my favorite books in the Bible...It teaches us we don't get to pick what test or the kinda of suffering we go through in life God does.

In Chapter 38 when The Lord answers Job from the whirlwind it's so powerful in showing us who's in charge.

God by Himself is the true source for strength, guidance, and success not man.

CareyCarey said...

Let me start with freeman since his comment focuses on the core of the Bible. Freeman, I have a saying "you can't do it, if you can't say it". Conversely/similarly, you can't find it, if you're not looking for it. The Bible IS NOT a bunch of stories. Aside from that, like Miz said, there's reference material in the Bible, that illustrates the foils of man, and there are solutions to those predicaments. Again, unless a person has all the answers and/or never has to deal with doubt, loneliness, fear, depression, anger, lust and sorrow, they could find a few solutions to their own problems. But, there's also references to "a fool" in the Bible.

To those that believe the Bible is a bunch of stories, false or true, I would suggest they read Proverbs.

@ Uncle Black, Yes, I would agree that the Bible is about love and a many other spendid things.

Hi Miz, yes, for me, guidence is the thing. In fact, I've been taught to pray for guidence and not for things.

@ Nik Nak Patty Wak.... Woman, now you know you are messing up asking for my b'b'cue.

I come from a line of preachers, so I spent a lot of time in church. Yet, I wasn't learning anything until I found a need to get outside myself and look for answers. You wrote: "And to me it doesn't matter as long as you understand what the author(s) are trying to convey and how that can be applied to your life.

That's all I've ever done regarding the Bible is understand the lessons that should be learned and not really question its validity"

I do go a little deeper. I need to know the author of the book so that I can better understand his message. Now I am not going to get all churchy but, take for instance Corinthians. the author of that book is Paul. He's speaking to the people of Corinth. Okay, WHY? What was his motivation? Also, for me, it's important to know when the book was written, in Pauls case it was early A.D.

An added benefit (for me), in reading the bible is the look at Roman history. I can go on and on about this but that's for another time. Discussion groups dealing with the Bible are a blast. That road has many journeys. the other day, we ended up at "What's the significance of the cross". Lord have mercy. One brotha said if God had been killed with a shotgun, we'd all be blinging shotguns. But the central question was "Why a cross"?

@ Big Mac Attack... what's going on. I don't know if you're a boxing fan but I have a prediction on Mayweather and ol'boy.

Yes, I agree, ya gotta believe in something.

CareyCarey said...

Hello Ann, I must have been writing when your comment came through. I am glad you showed up.

Yeah, Job is a popular book. As you know, many preachers/pastors/ministers run with that one, because, as you said, it's important to know "who's in charge".

I like reading the Bible and I also like to hear it explained (taught, preached). Well, as you also must know, we have to be careful who we follow *wink*

uglyblackjohn said...

My favorite is Ecclesiates - just straight up practicle knowledge.

CareyCarey said...

Yeah Uncle black, I saw you did a post on it(Eccl). I was going to jump in but that food lead me away :-)

Maybe one day we can turn around MadMoney FreeMan.

CareyCarey said...

Btw, one day you'll have to go visit my friend jjbrock. She's over @ The Old Black church. She replied to this post. Click her link and tell her where you got it. She's good people.

FreeMan said...

"Maybe one day we can turn around MadMoney FreeMan" LMBAO That's like turning Jesus into a Buddhist.

It's better to accept and advise. People have been trying to turn me around since the beginning of time and maybe the answer is I simply don't want what's being offered. What helps you and shows you the way doesn't necessarily make it universal.

CareyCarey said...

*LOL* @ "That's like turning Jesus into a Buddhist"

My man my man, ain't no shame in yo' game.

But I hear you. You have to stand on something.

But come on FreeMan, don't let Uncle Black lead you down the wrong road. Tell the truth. You eat horse ankles don't you *lol*.

That Uncle Black is a mess :-)

FreeMan said...

Man I hope ya'll joking about horse ankles cuz that's some ish I've never heard of in my life.

UBJ does come out of left field on every post. He lives and lived a varied life and got a mind of someone who is naturally curious! It's a good background to have for writing a blog.

CareyCarey said...

Well, I hope he's joking too. I've never heard of anyone eating horse ankels. Yes, it appears Uncle black has been around, and I like that.

uglyblackjohn said...

Yeah... I've been around.
I think that's why I can identify with the writer of Ecclesiates.
As you say, knowing about the writer makes a difference.

As for FreeMan...
I'm more concerned with the character of a man than his spiritual leanings.
Christianity works for me but from more of a henotheist perspective.

(Oh...and I'll check out The Old Black Church.)

CareyCarey said...

"I'm more concerned with the character of a man than his spiritual leanings"

There it is!

I am not the type to judge a person based on his "beliefs". A belief is just that, they believe in something, BUT, what a person does in/with that belief is paramount to the character of the man.

I did a post on that. In essence, I asked why does a person go around telling others that they are a christian? I mean, what's the significance of that? A person can talk all day long but what they do precedes them. Yet, on the flip-side, if a person tells me they have "no" beliefs or they tell me they are a fool, I will believe them. Consequently, I will move away from them. That end result will not take long because a fool will raise his hand. That's not to say I have not engaged in foolish behavior, because I have, but I think you get my drift.