So, this is a quick question(hopefully), or rather, two questions, and forgive me because I’m not well versed in the Bible at all, I’m not Christian, but I was raised Catholic and I know its a volatile subject for many.
So, from what I’ve seen, in the first 39(I believe) books of the Bible God seems to be entirely different than the God that is spoken of in the later 27. My question here is really just, if this is the same God (Both assuming that it is, and all of it exists and so on and so forth) is there an explaination for the change? Or, perhaps, can anyone explain anything related to the change, or someones view of it, to help clarify my confusion?
I feel as if I’ve forgotten an important part of this question, but what it it completely escapes me at the moment.
The important distinction is that different human beings, from different times, wrote the different books. Thusly the specifics would be different. The different authors had differing view points of what an almightly being should be.
They’re worth reading, in a good modern translation (or KJV if you appreciate Elizabethan English!).
With regard to the OP, it’s very much the same God who is characterized in each – one who has a high moral standard to which He calls people, but is forgiving of their sins on repentance. The mode and atonement of such repentance of sin differs, as might be expected, but the characterization is the same.
See Psalm 51, the later chapters of Isaiah, particularly 56, Ezekiel 36, Micah 6:6-8, and easily a dozen other cites, in which the New Testament message is made pretty clear.
God doesn’t change, but the peoples’ views of God change…this is the reason for the seemingly different Gods of the Old and New Testament. I do think there is a difference, the Old Testament’s God was about showing power, wrath, hellfire, brimstone, obey me or pay the price…the New Testament preached love, compassion, forgiveness, and second chances…
I think what the OP is asking about is the puberty of spiritual belief, in where beforehand belief in the sacred was infused into everyday life and experience, and afterward belief blossomed into a divorce from that and into a sense of separation from the sacred.
In effect, one believed in the magic of Santa and after the reality of his nonexistence hit home then one believed in the IDEA of Santa (or didn’t).
The god of the (generally) Old Testament was more ‘real’ in the everyday lives of people, just like the Greek gods were: always helping or meddling and pulling pranks and talking to so-and-so, and causing catastrophes. He was a part of everything, all the time, and there was NO CONCEPT of the world or man as separate. You have to really take that last sentence in to understand what a critical change it was to believe God as separate.
The god of the (again generally) New Testament is one who is definitely ‘separate’ from man and the world, divorced from us if you will. Wherein we have free will and are always ‘guilty’ for being separate from him.
Old god=no guilt, we are one with him. New god=guilt, we are separate.
As you can imagine, the mythic stories change quite dramatically between the two.
But the Bible, and other religious texts to boot, are jumbles of myths. So you see this separation/creation myth in both Testaments. But what caused the great switch in belief? Well, short answer, the switch from agrarian life to city/state life.
The New Testament was shaped more by the mythic system created by city/states (“Mess-o-potamia”). The Old T was less organized and more of a collection of popular ancient myths.
Then, added to this mix was the political consideration of Rome and how THAT shaped the Bible. (And you thought only modern times had angry activists!)
The Bible (mainly the New Testament) became a good political pamphlet (they had lengthy pamphlets back then). One of the problems Fundamentalists have today is the application of this 2-century old political stuff to the political stuff of modern day.
It don’t fit. So, they pound it and twist it until it do.
Example: The controversy over Mel Gibson’s interpretation of Christ’s life. One of the complaints about it is its focus on violence. Well, which is more important, the literal violence that Christ had to experience, or the spiritual teachings that he gave? Fundies focus on the violence, the blood, the profane. (Mel has said he wanted to focus on this shocking aspect, which it is…to US! But, do you think that the violence was shocking to people back then when crucifixions were a common spectacle?)
Spiritualists focus on the meaning, the sacred. They try to learn about the IDEA of Santa and apply that to their lives while Fundamentalists are off to the North Pole looking for him.
Book recommendation: Jack Miles wrote God: A Biography which approaches the Old Testament as a literary work, and describes the growth and changes of the character of God in that work. This book was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Biography in 1996.
I second this recommendation. It is an absolutely fascinating angle on looking at the Bible. My two caveats: 1) It seemed to me that Miles spent a lot of time explaining things through the lens of God’s interest in human sexuality, and 2) I never actually finished the book (Hey, I was moving, starting a new job, and getting married, and something had to give! I’ll go back someday.), so I don’t know how well it deals with your Old vs. New Testament question.
Isn’t is Zoroastrian philosophy that says there are actually two gods? There is the creator deity who is insane, and the god that manages the day to day operations of the universe. The second god is supposedly rational and trying to fix the problems caused by the creator god. IIRC, Zoroastrians were treated with respect by Christians and Jews back in the day.
In fact, different human beings from different times even wrote the same books. The oldest books, The Torah of Judaism and the Pentateuch for Christians, consisting of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, now appears to have been written by two eary authors whose works were joined some time after the heyday of the Kingdom of David (“J” and “E”) plus a later set of writings interspersed within them (“P”) and a yet-later set of writings taking place in the vicinity of the destruction of the temple (most of Deuteronomy), which were re-edited and compiled into a single text during the time of the second temple by an editor referred to as the “Redactor”.
Most famously, the creation story in Genesis is a sequence of two stories written at different times by different authors with different notions of God. The first section is all “P” document and describes a very cosmic God who makes things happen by saying “Let there be light” and stuff like that; this is followed by the “J” document, an older text, wherein God is smaller – possibly more approachable, apparently far less infallible, more irascible in temper, and yet a God that humans could talk into changing his mind about things. This is the God of Adam and Eve, the God who was outwitted by a serpent, didn’t want humans to eat of the fruit of knowledge and become like Gods themselves.
Also well-examined are the interwoven passages describing Noah and the flood. Unlike the creation stories, these are not sitting back to back uninterrupted but are instead woven together by the Redactor into a single story-braid – the passages where God is referred (in English-language Bibles) as the LORD (YWHW in the original) are “J” document, the others are “P” document and were written quite some time later. The “P” author goes into stultifying details about cubits and describes the flood as one where the firmament of heaven is ripped open and Noah & Co. are trapped on the ark for months before a raven indicates land is available; the “J” author has seven of each clean animal species, not two, brought into an ark that only has to survive a 40 day flood, the end of which is significed by a dove rather than a raven bringing back an olive leaf from dry land.