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Old 05-15-2019, 09:31 AM
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Was the Old Testament just for the Jewish people?


Christianity has spread throughout the world to all different cultures. It is presented as the one true religion that everyone should follow regardless of where they live, their race, culture, or whatever. It says everyone is God's children and they all should follow Christianity. But what about before Jesus? The impression I have of the Old Testament was that it was a collection of Jewish writings really meant for the Jews. At the time, was it viewed that God was the God of the Jews and everyone else did not matter? Or was everyone free to follow God and the Old Testament and they would then be considered God's children. If some other culture, like the Vikings, started following those teachings, would they then be considered proper followers of God? Or would the Jews think that those Vikings were outsiders and not really God's children no matter how much they believed and followed the Old Testament?
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Old 05-15-2019, 09:41 AM
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The Tanakh was just for the priests in Judaism. Yahweh was a tribal deity of the Jewish people. The Hebrews were a caste based Semitic people. A viking could not have been a jew unless some jews moved to Norway and became vikings. Years ago I read the memoir of a form Red Guard in China's Cultural Revolution. His home village in northern China had native jews. They were Han ethnically. The village also had a native Muslim population. Both the Jews and the Muslims worshiped together at the village mosque. The other people in the village didn't know who was who, but collectively referred to them as the people that don't eat pork.

This wasn't a case of some Han deciding to convert to Judaism, but rather of Jewish merchants settling in this village and marrying into the local population.
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Old 05-15-2019, 09:45 AM
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Well it's not before Jesus, as Jesus was with God 'in the beginning', but before the birth of Jesus to Mary and His ministry. It is more with Jesus that we get the relationship of we are God's children.

Good ol' old testament Jews - had/has a deal with God, a contractional relationship with Him, they have a set of laws established by God and God watches over them, protects, guides and blesses them.

Others don't have that deal, so not required to follow the law, or for that matter God, and can follow other gods. As such that God was sometimes referred to as God of the Jews by others, though sometimes non-Jews realizes this one true God also.
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Old 05-15-2019, 10:08 AM
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So it seems like the God of the OT was really just for people who were linked to genetically Jewish people. So then were other cultures and genetic backgrounds locked out from God's benefits until Jesus was born? If some other BC culture wanted the benefits of following God as stated in the OT, would they have that option? Or were the benefits of following OT God only for Jews? Consider this passage from Deuteronomy 11:

Quote:
So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today--to love the LORD your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul--

then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and oil.

I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.

Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them.

Then the LORD's anger will burn against you, and he will shut the heavens so that it will not rain and the ground will yield no produce, and you will soon perish from the good land the LORD is giving you.
If the Vikings were having terrible crop yields, could they have decided to eschew their own gods and instead worship God to get the benefits He promises to bring to His worshipers? Or were those benefits only eligible to people who have a genetic link to the Jewish people? And likewise, were God's punishments for non-worship only applicable to the Jews? If the Vikings were not getting rain and had terrible crop yields, was that just random luck or was God smiting them?

Last edited by filmore; 05-15-2019 at 10:08 AM.
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Old 05-15-2019, 10:13 AM
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You sort of have to preface your question with the time period that you are looking at.
L0k1's point is true at some period, but it is less true in other periods. At the earliest stage, the Torah, (Law, first five books), and the associated texts in Joshua and Judges was written by and for the Jewish people. Later, particularly Prophet Amos and in the second and third sections from the Prophet Isaiah, Judaism, itself, was regarded as a "beacon" to the world to lead everyone to God.

At this point, there are different passages in different books (written over hundreds of years) that seem to indicate that Judaism was henotheistic: Our God is the best god in the world although there might be others). Other passages were written as monotheism: Our God is the only God and all the others are false. Large books have been written arguing over which of those views was the "real" position of Jewish theologians. Henotheism has long since been discarded as a Jewish belief.

As to who the book was "for," the earlier passages were clearly intended for the Jewish people. After Deutero- (second) and Trito- (third) Isaiah, there are probably different thoughts on who the book is "for." However, regardless of the book, Jews believe that there is one God and God has set out instructions that all humans must follow. These are found in the seven Noahide Laws, laws promulgated after the flood in the time of Noah, (since, following the flood, Noah is the ancestor of all humans.) This strongly suggests that Judaism did not regard the bible to have been written for all people.

(I have used Judaism throughout the above text on the grounds that it might be confusing to swap back and forth between "Jews" and "Hebrews" and "Israelites" although Judaism developed later in history.)
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Old 05-15-2019, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by filmore View Post
So it seems like the God of the OT was really just for people who were linked to genetically Jewish people. So then were other cultures and genetic backgrounds locked out from God's benefits until Jesus was born? If some other BC culture wanted the benefits of following God as stated in the OT, would they have that option? Or were the benefits of following OT God only for Jews?
The period indicated by your question and quotation are probably form a henotheistic mindset. It was not a question of non-Jews being omitted from God's blessings but simply that those people had their own gods who were responsible for handing out their own blessings. Later thoughts would have involved a more universal attitude. The thoughts and theology that we know as Judaism developed over a few thousand years and asking "What did they believe?" has to be framed by time period: WHEN did they believe something.
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Old 05-15-2019, 10:24 AM
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So it seems like the God of the OT was really just for people who were linked to genetically Jewish people. So then were other cultures and genetic backgrounds locked out from God's benefits until Jesus was born?
With the info of New Testament, we see that this is not the case even back then. That the way to God is Jesus who preexisted before the world. And Jesus is the only way to God. Yes people can find Jesus even back then, which allows them to have the relationship with God.

Your Deut 11 quote has to do with blessings in this life, not eternal treasures.
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Old 05-15-2019, 10:37 AM
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For people who had the henotheistic mindset, were their gods only for their own people? Were the gods for Romans, Jews, and Vikings just for those respective people? If someone from one culture wanted to cross over, would he be welcomed to worship? Or would he be rejected and told to pray to his own god?

At the time of that Deuteronomy passage, imagine that a Viking traveled to Israel and was impressed with the great crop yields and productive farmland. When he asks the Jewish farmer how his farm is so productive, the farmer shows him the Deuteronomy writings and says that God gives him that bounty. If the Viking then said "I have seen the light. I will dedicate my life to following this God so that I may also have these benefits.", how would the Jewish farmer have responded? Would he have said "Great! Welcome to our religion!" or would he have said "Are you crazy? You are a Viking and cannot follow our God."

Last edited by filmore; 05-15-2019 at 10:39 AM.
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Old 05-15-2019, 10:41 AM
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Good ol' old testament Jews - had/has a deal with God, a contractional relationship with Him, they have a set of laws established by God and God watches over them, protects, guides and blesses them.
I have to question what's in bold. Sure, the Jews are "God's chosen people" but you have to ask "chosen for what?". Or, as Teyve the Milkman asks "Could you chose someone else once in awhile?"

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So it seems like the God of the OT was really just for people who were linked to genetically Jewish people.
Please do not rely on kanicbird's interpretation here. He is not a Jew and he interprets everything through his own religion's filter.

Judaism allows converts, it just doesn't seek or encourage them. In theory a Viking or even a group of Vikings could convert... but they'd have to give up quite a bit of their native culture to do so.

tomndebb's posts are much more on the mark as answer to the OP's question.
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Old 05-15-2019, 10:43 AM
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The Romans were very ecumenical in their approach to other deities. They figured that everyone pretty much worshiped the same gods, they just had different names in different languages. Thus when in northern Europe the Romans would rebuild a temple to Wotan as a temple to Jupiter-Wotan. If they encountered a deity that they couldn't easily fit into their pantheon, they'd add a new deity. We tend to say that the Romans and Greeks had the same pantheon, but really the Romans were just totally OK with accepting Greek mythology as being stories about Roman gods.
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Old 05-15-2019, 10:46 AM
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At the time of that Deuteronomy passage, imagine that a Viking traveled to Israel and was impressed with the great crop yields and productive farmland. When he asks the Jewish farmer how his farm is so productive, the farmer shows him the Deuteronomy writings and says that God gives him that bounty. If the Viking then said "I have seen the light. I will dedicate my life to following this God so that I may also have these benefits.", how would the Jewish farmer have responded? Would he have said "Great! Welcome to our religion!" or would he have said "Are you crazy? You are a Viking and cannot follow our God."
He'd say, "Great! You're perfectly welcome to worship God. But you don't have to do the whole Kosher think, and you can keep your dick on one piece - those are our obligations, not yours. You should probably find your own path."

Jews worship the way they do not because it's the right way to worship, but because it's their job.
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Old 05-15-2019, 10:47 AM
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Judaism allows converts, it just doesn't seek or encourage them. In theory a Viking or even a group of Vikings could convert...

Now Judaism allows converts, but could a 2nd century BCE gentile who was enslaved by a jew convert to Judaism to get out of working on the sabbath?
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Old 05-15-2019, 01:44 PM
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For people who had the henotheistic mindset, were their gods only for their own people? Were the gods for Romans, Jews, and Vikings just for those respective people? If someone from one culture wanted to cross over, would he be welcomed to worship? Or would he be rejected and told to pray to his own god?
Check out the book of Ruth. Not only did she cross over, but she was the ancestor of King David, no small thing. That also demonstrates that Judaism was not exclusively genetic.

As for how many gods there are, that changed over time. "You shall have no other gods before me" is different from there is only one god.
Not to mention that neither Israel nor Judah had the clout or the chutzpah to tell the nations surrounding them that their gods were phonies.
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Old 05-15-2019, 02:52 PM
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Now Judaism allows converts, but could a 2nd century BCE gentile who was enslaved by a jew convert to Judaism to get out of working on the sabbath?
I don't think the Jews would have forced their slaves/servants to work on the sabbath, whether they were gentiles or not.
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Originally Posted by Exodus 20:10
but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.
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Old 05-15-2019, 03:01 PM
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Realistically speaking, by this point in time, everyone on Earth has some Jewish blood in them excepting perhaps a few uncontacted tribes in the jungle and groups of that leaning.

Ignoring that, though, at best the OT encourages people to become Jews and provides various mechanisms by which they can do so. Occasionally, it is friendly towards non-Jewish people, but that seems to be pretty tightly correlated to the political/military strategic position of the Jewish kingdom at that moment in time.

To take an example, we know from the Zakkur Stele and the Tel Dan Stele that the Aramean king, Hazael, worshipped Baal Hadad.

But then, of course, we have that scene in Kings where the prophet, Elijah, goes to Damascus to annoint Hazael the king of Aram.

At that moment in time, the two tribes were allies. Later they weren't. Hadad went from being a deity that was the same as or friendly to Yahweh to being a misleading demon.

Ultimately, the OT itself isn't even consistent in its beliefs - as they fluctuate by the political necessities of their time.

But, I would say, it's reasonably clear that St. Paul and the early Roman church had to do a lot of work to paste themselves into the Bible and minus a whole lot of handwaving, out-of-context quotation, historical ignorance, and "Look, Superman!" it's very clear that everything about St. Paul's religion conflicts with every part of the OT. Plausibly and quite likely, Jesus' religion was more comfortable with the Jewish texts, though it's hard to know exactly how well that really fit in either given that we only have second-hand sources as to what that was.

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Old 05-15-2019, 03:03 PM
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Now Judaism allows converts, but could a 2nd century BCE gentile who was enslaved by a jew convert to Judaism to get out of working on the sabbath?
Already answered, but a bit more on this Jews could only be servants to other Jews till a 7 year cycle then they had to be released. But non Jews would not be released. Duet 15

So there is a reason to want to convert in that circumstance.

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Old 05-16-2019, 12:42 PM
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The Romans were very ecumenical in their approach to other deities. They figured that everyone pretty much worshiped the same gods, they just had different names in different languages. Thus when in northern Europe the Romans would rebuild a temple to Wotan as a temple to Jupiter-Wotan. If they encountered a deity that they couldn't easily fit into their pantheon, they'd add a new deity. We tend to say that the Romans and Greeks had the same pantheon, but really the Romans were just totally OK with accepting Greek mythology as being stories about Roman gods.
If Herodotus is to be trusted the Greeks brought the same attitude regarding deities of their neighbors - Egypt, Canaanites, Persia, etc.

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Old 05-16-2019, 01:01 PM
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Good point. My Greek history is pretty lax. I was sorely disappointed with The Peloponnesian War, and switched to Roman instead. GoT could end today and it would be more satisfying than that book.
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Old 05-16-2019, 02:34 PM
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. . . But, I would say, it's reasonably clear that St. Paul and the early Roman church had to do a lot of work to paste themselves into the Bible and minus a whole lot of handwaving, out-of-context quotation, historical ignorance, and "Look, Superman!" it's very clear that everything about St. Paul's religion conflicts with every part of the OT. Plausibly and quite likely, Jesus' religion was more comfortable with the Jewish texts, though it's hard to know exactly how well that really fit in either given that we only have second-hand sources as to what that was.
Very early Christian churches had a big argument over whether it was possible to convert to Christianity or whether you had to convert to Judaism first. Jewish Christians and Pauline Christians coexisted into the fifth century AD. Apparently circumcision was the biggest roadblock to pagan conversion and Paul didn't see why that should get in the way.
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Old 05-17-2019, 09:05 AM
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Christianity has spread throughout the world to all different cultures. It is presented as the one true religion that everyone should follow regardless of where they live, their race, culture, or whatever. It says everyone is God's children and they all should follow Christianity. But what about before Jesus? The impression I have of the Old Testament was that it was a collection of Jewish writings really meant for the Jews. At the time, was it viewed that God was the God of the Jews and everyone else did not matter? Or was everyone free to follow God and the Old Testament and they would then be considered God's children. If some other culture, like the Vikings, started following those teachings, would they then be considered proper followers of God? Or would the Jews think that those Vikings were outsiders and not really God's children no matter how much they believed and followed the Old Testament?
note that the Ethiopian eunuch that Phillip converted was already familiar with OT, and there is long history of Ethiopian Judaism (which is why Israel rescued them). Remember that Abraham was not circumcised until later in process.

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Old 05-17-2019, 11:19 AM
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But, I would say, it's reasonably clear that St. Paul and the early Roman church had to do a lot of work to paste themselves into the Bible and minus a whole lot of handwaving, out-of-context quotation, historical ignorance, and "Look, Superman!" it's very clear that everything about St. Paul's religion conflicts with every part of the OT. Plausibly and quite likely, Jesus' religion was more comfortable with the Jewish texts, though it's hard to know exactly how well that really fit in either given that we only have second-hand sources as to what that was.
The inconsistency between the OT and NT is one of the reasons I was wondering about this question. In the OT, the message from God seems to be "Jews, I have chosen you. You are the only people who matter. Everyone else can be slain or smitted." But then Jesus comes along and it's all "Everyone is special. God loves everyone. Everyone can enjoy God's graces." Why wasn't God in the OT the loving god of all humans?
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Old 05-17-2019, 12:27 PM
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For some reference;

Israel and Judah were Canaanite tribes, a Semitic people.

The chief God of the Canaanites was 'El', "He who contains all things". Each of the Canaanite tribes had a patron deity as well. El was the patron of Israel, JHVH was the patron of Judah. JHVH may have originated as a tribal hero who, like many before him* was raised to godhood.

You can find vestiges of El and other Canaanite gods in the bible, in various names for God. Eventually, JHVH subsumed and took on the attributes of all of the other gods, becoming first among many, then the ONE.

Oh, and Baal merely means 'Lord'. Just like, many years from now, future historians may think our word 'Lord' is just one of the many names of their vision of our Christian god.


* For example, the Sabeans of now modern Yemen, right up until the Muslim Conquest, worshiped a gender swapped version of the Babylonian pantheon (Ashtar - a male version of Ishtar, for example) with the head of their pantheon being an ascended Egyptian Governor appointed by one of the early Pharaohs who had conquered the area millennia earlier.
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Old 05-17-2019, 01:49 PM
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[ . . .] But then Jesus comes along and it's all "Everyone is special. God loves everyone. Everyone can enjoy God's graces."
Well, as long as they're willing to accept that they're to be treated as dogs; and that this is right and proper.

https://biblia.com/bible/esv/Matt%2015.21-28

Not to mention that whole bit about 'only come to the Father through me'.

There are a whole lot of contradictions all through the Bible. Portraying the older portions as being entirely 'only Jews matter' and the newer ones as being 'everyone matters equally' is simplistic and misleading.
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Old 05-17-2019, 03:07 PM
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The inconsistency between the OT and NT is one of the reasons I was wondering about this question. In the OT, the message from God seems to be "Jews, I have chosen you. You are the only people who matter. Everyone else can be slain or smitted." But then Jesus comes along and it's all "Everyone is special. God loves everyone. Everyone can enjoy God's graces." Why wasn't God in the OT the loving god of all humans?
In a sense, antisemitism made more sense than the current norm for Christians.

It's sort of like when the Europeans came from Europe the New World, met all of the Native Americans, watched them all die of famine, and then had to answer the question of what those people were to blame for that God never gave them a chance to learn about Him, and then murderized them all the instant the Europeans discovered them. Mormonism offered an explanation for that by giving a backstory to the New World that connected to the Judeo-Christian story. Possibly that's what drove people to embrace it during that period of time where we were embracing Humanistic benevolance but hadn't yet stopped encountering and murdering Native Americans.

With the historical Catholic / antisemitic doctrine, the Jews were offered, denied, and then tortured and murdered their messiah that God had granted them to bring them to the next step. And, as God did with Sodom and Gomorrah, so he did with Jerusalem and Israel, deciding that they needed to be punished and dispersed. Their children deserved to be punished for the crime until they showed penance and finally came to accept the messiah. Until that point, they are to be reviled, their continued refusal to accept the messiah a clear indication of their support for the murder of him even though they are the children and grandchildren of those who actually did the evil act.

From a logical standpoint, if Jesus is who he is purported to be and if the Jews are to blame for killing him and continue to reject him, that makes a fair case for God's 180 on the subject.

But if you're all "we should coexist with the Jews and they're all alright in their beliefs"...well, that does become a problem if you're serious about the actual text of the Bible.

Fortunately, no one is serious about that.

Now that we've all forgotten about and few have ever even met a Native American, let alone watch one die, the question of why God committed a horrible genocide against them is no longer something that anyone really considers. Mormonism survives through the simple process of having a sufficiently large member count to continue propagating itself.

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Old 05-17-2019, 05:11 PM
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. . .
Good ol' old testament Jews - had/has a deal with God, a contractional relationship with Him, they have a set of laws established by God and God watches over them, protects, guides and blesses them . . .
Do some Christians see the (relative) success of Jews, say, in business or science (e.g. Nobel Prizes), as the fruits of God's blessing?

If so, I've never looked at it that way, but, as a member of the tribe, I could see it as almost belittling and trivializing these fruits of the 'blessing'.

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Old 05-17-2019, 05:30 PM
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Now that we've all forgotten about and few have ever even met a Native American
Sorry for hijack, but: they're not nearly as gone as you seem to think they are. (List undoubtedly incomplete.)

Nor have all the rest of us forgotten about, or even failed to meet, Native Americans. -- for that matter, don't you realize you may have met some without knowing it? Not everybody's wearing signs all the time.
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Old 05-17-2019, 05:45 PM
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Sorry for hijack, but: they're not nearly as gone as you seem to think they are. (List undoubtedly incomplete.)

Nor have all the rest of us forgotten about, or even failed to meet, Native Americans. -- for that matter, don't you realize you may have met some without knowing it? Not everybody's wearing signs all the time.
I grant that I have no idea what the actual number is, but we live in a country where 40% of the population think that the planet is 10,000 years old. It's an assumption, but I would expect that most white Americans have probably never met a Native American in any practical sense even though that seems like it should be ridiculous.

I should have put a disclaimer that I was making a cynical assumption, though. I may well be completely wrong on that one aspect.

(For the record, I grew up the next town over from one that was entirely native in population - their group was never given a reservation; my best friend in 7th and 8th grade was a member; and I once attended a charity event for Leonard Peltier when I was living in Tokyo; and I had a manager a few years ago who was, I believe, Inuit.)

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Old 05-17-2019, 07:10 PM
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There are a whole lot of contradictions all through the Bible. Portraying the older portions as being entirely 'only Jews matter' and the newer ones as being 'everyone matters equally' is simplistic and misleading.
I agree.

The Bible collects old religious writings. Little effort seems to have been made to harmonize the teachings within the old testament, or the new.

And I see no ancient introduction claiming that these writings all say the same thing.

The division into chapters, done far later, makes transitions between ancient authors, with different agendas, less obvious.
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Old 05-17-2019, 08:22 PM
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The inconsistency between the OT and NT is one of the reasons I was wondering about this question. In the OT, the message from God seems to be "Jews, I have chosen you. You are the only people who matter. Everyone else can be slain or smitted." But then Jesus comes along and it's all "Everyone is special. God loves everyone. Everyone can enjoy God's graces."
This perception arises from reading the Old Testament only in part and not understanding the history when each book was written.
As noted, earlier, many later writings in the Hebrew Scriptures promoted an ecumenical approach to believers of other gods. Amos, later Isaiah, and Ezekiel each promoted more of a universal brotherhood (with the Jews leading the way to God). Even in older works, there are passages that promote tolerance or an acceptance of others. Melchizedek was not a follower of Abraham, yet his sacrifice was found acceptable. Ruth was a foreigner, but became an ancestor to David. Many of the 613 mitzvot found in Numbers, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy speak to treating strangers with justice and compassion. Many of the later works address only the personal need to behave correctly without engaging in any xenophobic behavior. And later works that did emphasize setting Jews apart from others were written at a time when various kings subsequent to Alexander the Great were actively persecuting Jews, making war on them, etc.

I am not claiming that there is not a lot of henotheism and xenophobia in much of the Old Testament, but the notion that the OT was all fire and brimstone and the NT was all love and flowers is based on an inadequate reading of both sections (and, probably, a misunderstanding of the history behind each book) (Jesus got a bit fiery on a few occasions and Paul suggested that one group castrate themselves.)
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Old 05-17-2019, 08:49 PM
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The inconsistency between the OT and NT is one of the reasons I was wondering about this question. In the OT, the message from God seems to be "Jews, I have chosen you. You are the only people who matter. Everyone else can be slain or smitted." But then Jesus comes along and it's all "Everyone is special. God loves everyone. Everyone can enjoy God's graces." Why wasn't God in the OT the loving god of all humans?
well, if you read the NT, Jesus said he came for the Jews but they rejected him, so he turned to Gentiles
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Old 05-17-2019, 09:45 PM
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[. . . ] I should have put a disclaimer that I was making a cynical assumption, though. [ . . . ]
Ah. Tone-of-voice-over-internet comprehension failure on my part. Thanks for clarification.
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  #32  
Old 05-17-2019, 11:37 PM
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well, if you read the NT, Jesus said he came for the Jews but they rejected him, so he turned to Gentiles
And yet he was a Jew.
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Old 05-18-2019, 01:17 AM
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The inconsistency between the OT and NT is one of the reasons I was wondering about this question. In the OT, the message from God seems to be "Jews, I have chosen you. You are the only people who matter. Everyone else can be slain or smitted." But then Jesus comes along and it's all "Everyone is special. God loves everyone. Everyone can enjoy God's graces." Why wasn't God in the OT the loving god of all humans?
No offense, but this misconception is where anti-Semitism comes from. Where does it say that everyone else should be killed? Not enemies - that you can find - but everyone.
Chosen means a special covenant. Nowhere is there a claim of superiority. That is a very common Christian misconception.
Finally, all those who were not Jews were not punished in any way by God - either in this life or in the afterlife. (Not that there was much about an afterlife.) Contrast that to Christianity where not doing the correct rite and saying the correct words gets you eternal torment.
When I was a believer and went to shul my rabbi never, ever, said anything about those who were not Jews suffering. That's why there is no call for conversion. However when some Baptists came to my door, and I told them I wasn't interested because I was Jewish (I didn't want to get into an atheism debate) they started telling me I had to be saved.
Christians don't have a loving god, they have a mobster god. Nice soul you got there. Wouldn't want anything to happen to it, would we?
  #34  
Old 05-18-2019, 09:46 AM
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well, if you read the NT, Jesus said he came for the Jews but they rejected him, so he turned to Gentiles
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And yet he was a Jew.
And if you read the history of the creation of the New Testament, you will notice that such claims come from works that were written many years after Jesus, after the Jewish and Christian communities had already begun to quarrel, generally by Gentiles who felt no need to reconcile the groups. The Gospels also show Jesus interacting with and showing compassion toward Samaritans and pagans. When Paul has his feud with the leadership in Jerusalem, there is no mention of turning away from Judaism, only of opening the community to Gentiles.
  #35  
Old 05-18-2019, 10:49 AM
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If some other culture, like the Vikings, started following those teachings, would they then be considered proper followers of God?
The Vikings eventually did convert to Christianity, so I would say the answer is yes.
  #36  
Old 05-18-2019, 12:02 PM
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The Vikings eventually did convert to Christianity, so I would say the answer is yes.
Yeah, under Christianity and the NT, I don't see any conflict with non-Jews following God. Christianity seems to drastically shift the acceptance of other cultures from what was prior. In the OT, it seems like the attitude is like "well, I guess you can follow our God if you want, but He really only thinks Jews are worthy." Then along comes Jesus and the NT is very different in that all people are expected to follow God as He is the only God and all others are false.

Even now, if someone converts to Judaism, how equal is that person compared to lifelong Jews? Would Jews whose family has always been Jewish view that converted person as an equal to themselves. Would God view the convert the same as the other Jews? Or is the converted person more of a 2nd class follower? Christianity seems like it's 100% accepting of someone converting. It seems like as soon as they accept Jesus, they are a Christian just like all the other Christians and are eligible for all the benefits and graces of God. How does it compare to someone who converts to Judiasm? And is the same for a Jewish convert both today and in the time before Jesus?
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Old 05-18-2019, 02:33 PM
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'God chose these particular people to follow this particular set of rules' is in no way the same concept as 'God only thinks these people are worthy.'

The concept that God might have given different people different rules, without this denigrating the ones who didn't get a specific set, does seem to be odd to many Christians. But it's pretty common in Judaism.

ETA: I think it's possible, though I might be wrong, that what you're trying to figure out is where the concept came from that there's only one correct religion, and everybody ought to be following it. I doubt that's a question with a really simple answer; but to the extent that there is an answer, I think it might be that it comes from Christianity. I'm not a religious scholar, however, and I might be wrong about that also.

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  #38  
Old 05-18-2019, 02:41 PM
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Even now, if someone converts to Judaism, how equal is that person compared to lifelong Jews?
Completely equal.

If anything, they might be regarded as "more Jewish" than someone who grew up Jewish and only casually (or not at all) follows Jewish custom and law. The conversion process weeds out anyone not serious and converts often wind up knowing more about the details, nuances, and history than those who grew up in the religion.

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Would Jews whose family has always been Jewish view that converted person as an equal to themselves.
Aside from the occasional dick present in any large group, yep. Someone who has completed the conversion process is 100% Jewish.

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Would God view the convert the same as the other Jews?
Yep, definitely. That's why the offspring of a woman who converts prior to their birth are just as Jewish as any other Jew (children born before her conversion are still gentile unless they convert).

If they weren't, King David might have been a gentile. Which would have been awkward, what with him being King of Israel and Judea and all.

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Or is the converted person more of a 2nd class follower?
Not at all.

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How does it compare to someone who converts to Judiasm? And is the same for a Jewish convert both today and in the time before Jesus?
According to the book of Ruth, it was the same back then as it is today (Ruth was the great-great-grandmother of King David and a convert to Judaism. And the Jews devoted an entire book of the Bible to her and still hold her great esteem. Darn few Jewish women of any sort, convert or not, get that). A converted Jew is a Jew.

Which is one reason the conversion process is not encouraged and a bit involved - once a person is converted they are considered completely and totally Jewish. They only want serious, dedicated people to join the tribe.

Last edited by Broomstick; 05-18-2019 at 02:45 PM.
  #39  
Old 05-18-2019, 02:52 PM
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'God chose these particular people to follow this particular set of rules' is in no way the same concept as 'God only thinks these people are worthy.'
What I thought when reading that:

https://imgur.com/gallery/UcwcMYA
(An enemy ruler checks the sacred book of a chosen people and wonders why their god will not get rid of the 'chosen ones' because of any blasphemous act prohibited, saving the enemy ruler time and soldiers. God then does that.)

The source is the usually NSFW Oglaf webcomic, link goes to IMGUR and this comic is one of the few safe for work ones.

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  #40  
Old 05-19-2019, 08:46 PM
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First I recommend reading the five part column "Who Wrote The Bible?" (which I can't seem to find right now.)

Second, Judaism does very much regard all humans as G-d's children. In the book Do They Keep Kosher On Mars, Sol The Answer Man informs us that the general consensus amongst Jewish sages is that if there is inteligent life on other planets they are G-d's children too and we can expect that the Lord has revealed Himself to these ETs and given them Commandments.

I'd also like to point out that Israel's Holocaust memorial has an avenue of righteous gentiles. Plaques and statues there commemorate folks like Schindler and King Christian II of Denmark. There is no dispute that these fine human beings are as worthy of G-d's reward as any Jew.

Certain commandments set Jews apart from other peoples. That was doubtless part of their purpose. If the commandments you follow prevent you from eating food from a gentile friend's house, or drinking their wine, etc you will maintain a separate Jewish identity.

Finally, there's an ancient folktale about just how G-d chose the Jews. He asked every other nation and got a firm 'no'. Then, He suspended a mountain in the air above Israel and asked if they would accept His covenant.
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  #41  
Old 05-20-2019, 06:35 AM
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First I recommend reading the five part column "Who Wrote The Bible?" (which I can't seem to find right now.)
https://www.straightdope.com/columns...-bible-part-1/
https://www.straightdope.com/columns...-bible-part-2/
https://www.straightdope.com/columns...-bible-part-3/
https://www.straightdope.com/columns...-bible-part-4/
https://www.straightdope.com/columns...-bible-part-5/
  #42  
Old 05-20-2019, 08:18 AM
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So it seems like the God of the OT was really just for people who were linked to genetically Jewish people.
Well, if YHWH was originally an "El", then he wasn't just for them. Rather the Jewish version of a regional deity. But then again, that would predate the old testament.
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  #43  
Old 05-20-2019, 08:56 AM
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Christianity has spread throughout the world to all different cultures. It is presented as the one true religion that everyone should follow regardless of where they live, their race, culture, or whatever. It says everyone is God's children and they all should follow Christianity. But what about before Jesus? The impression I have of the Old Testament was that it was a collection of Jewish writings really meant for the Jews. At the time, was it viewed that God was the God of the Jews and everyone else did not matter? Or was everyone free to follow God and the Old Testament and they would then be considered God's children. If some other culture, like the Vikings, started following those teachings, would they then be considered proper followers of God? Or would the Jews think that those Vikings were outsiders and not really God's children no matter how much they believed and followed the Old Testament?
After the death of Jesus, "Christianity" began to schism, although generally non-violently at first. The "Incident at Antioch" is an example of the growing schism.

Paul of Tarsus was a Jew (ethnically) who had apparently become a Roman citizen. He decided to reform the religion to appeal to non-Jews. Among his converts he threw out much of the Old Covenant (so no circumcision, no refusal to eat pork, etc) which created conflict with James and Peter at the "Incident at Antioch". Paul said they were "obviously" wrong to hold onto the Old Covenant but his own chief subordinate disagreed with him, and there was implied violence which prompted Paul to flee Antioch. The followers of James and Peter were known as "Jewish Christians" and still practiced the Old Covenant.

Paul "won" the conflict after his death, as the source of Gentiles is far larger. Even so, it took centuries before Christianity "took over" the Roman Empire. By that point Judaism was seen as a different religion. The last pagan emperor, Julian, promised to rebuild the Temple of Jerusalem but died before that could happen.

Paul didn't really eliminate the Old Testament, although some differences have crept in between the Jewish and Christian versions of said books. However, eliminating the Old Covenant eliminated a lot of old Jewish laws, so it's a bit of "pick and choose". The New Testament was written over a period of time, by many people, with many of the latter books being written (or shadow written) by Paul, with Paul's books being aimed at Gentiles.

While the Old Testament followed the Jews as the "chosen people" (I really wonder how do openly anti-Semitic churches preach about this) part of the New Testament seemed to blame the crucifixion on Pharisees (a Jewish group) and not Romans. I guess Paul wrote that part? This seems to have resulted in a lot of religious anti-Semitism.
  #44  
Old 05-20-2019, 10:49 AM
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Paul of Tarsus was a Jew (ethnically) who had apparently become a Roman citizen. He decided to reform the religion to appeal to non-Jews. Among his converts he threw out much of the Old Covenant (so no circumcision, no refusal to eat pork, etc) which created conflict with James and Peter at the "Incident at Antioch". Paul said they were "obviously" wrong to hold onto the Old Covenant but his own chief subordinate disagreed with him, and there was implied violence which prompted Paul to flee Antioch. The followers of James and Peter were known as "Jewish Christians" and still practiced the Old Covenant.
The issue, as I understand it, was whether you had to be Jewish in order to be Christian. So it was about who the "Old Testament was for," not when.

Nobody expected non-Jews to follow the "Old Covenant." All the earliest Christians were Jewish, and so they followed the Jewish Law. But when Gentiles started becoming Christians, there was disagreement over whether they also had to follow the Law (be circumcised, follow the dietary restrictions, etc.).

The "Incident at Antioch" is described by Luke (i.e. the author of Luke and Acts) in Acts 15 and by Paul himself in Galatians 2 ("Cephas" = Peter). Luke makes it sound like Paul and Peter were mostly on the same page, and blames the conflict on "some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees"; but Paul's account shows more of a conflict between him and Peter.

(By the way, who's the "his own chief subordinate" you're referring to?)

Quote:
Paul "won" the conflict after his death, as the source of Gentiles is far larger. Even so, it took centuries before Christianity "took over" the Roman Empire. By that point Judaism was seen as a different religion.
Right. By that time Judaism and Christianity were separate religions, and you could be one or the other but not both. But it didn't start out that way.

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The New Testament was written over a period of time, by many people, with many of the latter books being written (or shadow written) by Paul, with Paul's books being aimed at Gentiles.
(Actually, the earliest-written books of the New Testament are Paul's letters.)
  #45  
Old 05-20-2019, 01:24 PM
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Nobody expected non-Jews to follow the "Old Covenant." All the earliest Christians were Jewish, and so they followed the Jewish Law. But when Gentiles started becoming Christians, there was disagreement over whether they also had to follow the Law (be circumcised, follow the dietary restrictions, etc.).
Perhaps I'm a little confused here. Is the Old Covenant the same thing as Jewish/Mosaic Law?

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(By the way, who's the "his own chief subordinate" you're referring to?)
Barnabas.

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Originally Posted by Wikipedia
To Paul's dismay, the rest of the Jewish Christians in Antioch sided with Peter, including Paul's long-time associate Barnabas:

The rest of the Jews joined in this charade and even Barnabas was drawn into the hypocrisy.
Quote:
(Actually, the earliest-written books of the New Testament are Paul's letters.)
I knew the four gospels weren't written until years or decades after the alleged incidents occurred, but I had always thought that was before Paul "converted".
  #46  
Old 05-20-2019, 02:18 PM
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I knew the four gospels weren't written until years or decades after the alleged incidents occurred, but I had always thought that was before Paul "converted".
Here's a timeline. (Some of the dates aren't known for sure, but AFAIK all the dates shown there are fairly widely accepted by most scholars.)

Probable dates for Paul's letters can be found here.

Quote:
Perhaps I'm a little confused here. Is the Old Covenant the same thing as Jewish/Mosaic Law?
Here I'm using "Old Covenant," "Old Testament," and "Jewish/Mosaic Law" more-or-less interchangeably, though I suppose there are distinctions between them that are important in some contexts.
  #47  
Old 05-20-2019, 04:14 PM
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Re Genesis 1:27. There is a growing realisation that than man created god in his own image. It follows that a great deal can be learned about cultures (for want of a different word) from the attributes they assign to their deity. I'll leave it there.
  #48  
Old 05-20-2019, 04:21 PM
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One thing that is contributing to my confusion is what is meant by "the chosen". If a certain clan of people were "chosen" by God, how is that special if other people can convert? If a Viking converted, was he then considered chosen? Was Ruth one of the chosen after she converted? Is there anything special about the people of that original clan and their descendants? Does "chosen" mean people who follow the Jewish faith? Or does "chosen" mean people of a certain genetic makeup from that original clan that was picked by God?
  #49  
Old 05-20-2019, 04:50 PM
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Does "chosen" mean people who follow the Jewish faith? Or does "chosen" mean people of a certain genetic makeup from that original clan that was picked by God?
"Chosen" means that you are required to perform more work and follow much stricter rules for exactly the same reward you would get if you weren't "chosen". It's not a prize, it's a responsibility.

Anyone who converts is "chosen" and is expected to follow all the same rules. Ethnicity doesn't matter once you are officially Jewish.
  #50  
Old 05-20-2019, 06:56 PM
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One thing that is contributing to my confusion is what is meant by "the chosen". If a certain clan of people were "chosen" by God, how is that special if other people can convert? If a Viking converted, was he then considered chosen? Was Ruth one of the chosen after she converted? Is there anything special about the people of that original clan and their descendants? Does "chosen" mean people who follow the Jewish faith? Or does "chosen" mean people of a certain genetic makeup from that original clan that was picked by God?
Chosen does not mean "choice" as in superior - it is more along the lines of being chosen for a suicide mission.
I've heard the misconception of chosen as being better than anyone else be used as a justification for anti-Semitism.
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