Monday, March 22, 2010

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

I hit a roadblock in my Bible project.  I finished reading Job and got to Psalms and just couldn't summon up the interest to read through them.  The first part of the Old Testament is by far the most interesting and the further on you get the more it is pure repetition and inscrutable poetry.  As such I decided to swap to reading the New Testament.  I hope to go back and finish off the Old Testament afterwards but we will see how my motivation holds out.

I was expecting the New Testament to be drastically different.  I was under the impression that it would be about a God for all people, a kind God, a God of love and forgiveness instead of the bloody, tribal, destructive God of the Old Testament.  Boy, was I wrong.

Jesus comes to the world for the Jews.  He says this straight out many times and focuses on how he is there for the Jews and the nation of Israel.  Jesus also spends a lot of time insulting and belittling other racial/social groups and acting like a real bigot a lot of the time which is not at all what I was expecting.  The other thing that most struck me was his tendency to deliver hellfire and brimstone warnings and threats.  He isn't there to bring the world into a new, peaceful era but rather to inform everyone that if they don't do exactly as he says and place him above themselves, their families and indeed everything else in the universe they will suffer eternally for it.  His speeches are far more reminiscent of a megalomaniacal tyrant than a gentle saviour.

So often when I spoke about the Bible with believers they agreed that the Old Testament had some really strange, bad things in it but that the New Testament was what should be believed.  I have only read the first book of the New Testament so far, but if this kind of Jesus persists throughout I will be forced to conclude that people either:

1.  Never read the Bible at all and are just assuming it contains what they think it ought to contain or

2.  Read the Bible and completely ignored all the things they didn't agree with.

Maybe some of both?

I suppose the most amusing thing I find in the New Testament is Jesus assuredly informing everyone that he will be back within 1 generation to end the current world and usher in the kingdom of heaven.  It isn't vague or unclear at all:  According to the Bible, Jesus will return before all those surrounding him during his life are dead.  Maybe there is a 2000+ year old Jew wandering around still waiting for Jesus to come back - or maybe not.

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