Transcription of Scripture

finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
I’ve been chatting on another site about the Mosaic law - all the laws laid out in Leviticus and elsewhere in the Pentateuch. One person was arguing that the laws are very sexist, and another was arguing that they are not - that men and women are treated as equal. And because to me the laws don’t actually seem equal, and I’m not sure how they could be interpreted this way, I wondered if this was more about her defending God, seeing all the laws as his exact words.

So I asked if she was coming from the perspective of seeing the law as literally transcribed exactly from God speaking to Moses, or if she thinks what we have in the Bible is how humans have understood God through their own culture and the limits of humanity.

She answered that she subscribes to the common academic opinion that Jewish scribal tradition was extremely accurate. Which didn’t really answer my question. So I tried to clarify that my question was more if she believed there were specific, literal words from God to be transcribed - if God gave a monologue to Moses, say, in human language, audible, that was transcribed. Or if it was more a case of people feeling more generally guided by God and putting it into their own words within their own culture.

She didn’t reply, and I’m still wondering about this in general. I don’t know what the common academic opinions on this are. I haven’t studied theology. I have never come across any discussion on this. I think the church tradition I grew up with would have seen it as quite literal.

So I’m wondering what are the different views on this. How did the Mosaic law come into existence?
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Comments

  • LeRocLeRoc Shipmate
    I think that only rather extremely conservative literalists believe that the Laws were literally transcribed?
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    LeRoc wrote: »
    I think that only rather extremely conservative literalists believe that the Laws were literally transcribed?

    I was thinking this, but also curious what exactly is believed by other Christians.

  • LeRocLeRoc Shipmate
    fineline wrote: »
    I was thinking this, but also curious what exactly is believed by other Christians.
    If you want my opinion as a rather liberal Christian, I believe that people were inspired by God to write down some rules. I've heard contemporary Jews describe this as: "Other peoples had capricious Gods, you never new if what you did was right or wrong, if you were going to be punished or not. The innovation Judaism brought is that our dealings with God are bound by rules that are binding for both sides."

    This works for me, even if the Laws weren't literally dictated.

  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    Yes, happy to hear individual opinions. I tend to see it that way too, that God guided the Jews, but my understanding of how that would happen is very fuzzy. I've not really thought about it in detail before - just started thinking about it yesterday, because this woman was so adamantly claiming there was nothing in the law to indicate women were seen as inferior to men, so I thought she'd only be saying this if she felt she had to defend God.

    What about the Ten Commandments? Are they seen as more directly and literally from God? I think I might be inclined to see them that way, but I have no idea how this is interpreted in general, other than the literal understanding.
  • LeRocLeRoc Shipmate
    fineline wrote: »
    What about the Ten Commandments? Are they seen as more directly and literally from God?
    I don't see them that way.
  • Don't forget the Orthodox Jewish view that G-d not only gave Moses the written law, but also gave him an oral law which is also to be followed. I'm not sure whether or not it is believed that the oral law was literally dictated word for word.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    Don't forget the Orthodox Jewish view that G-d not only gave Moses the written law, but also gave him an oral law which is also to be followed. I'm not sure whether or not it is believed that the oral law was literally dictated word for word.

    I'm not forgetting. This is something I didn't know in the first place to be able to forget. I don't know the Orthodox Jewish view. Do you mean they believe in a separate law that isn't written anywhere, or simply that the laws in Leviticus were imparted orally, while the ten commandments were imparted in written form?
  • An awful lot of the law in the Bible is very sensible if you happen to be a nomadic people in a desert world. So this would seem to argue in favour of one of two origins:
    - codification of sensible ways to live in the world that the Hebrews faced
    - direct dictation by a god with an obsessive interest in public health
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    Fawkes Cat, yes, I've heard that - lots of practical common sense for the people in that culture to help with survival.
  • fineline wrote: »
    Don't forget the Orthodox Jewish view that G-d not only gave Moses the written law, but also gave him an oral law which is also to be followed. I'm not sure whether or not it is believed that the oral law was literally dictated word for word.

    I'm not forgetting. This is something I didn't know in the first place to be able to forget. I don't know the Orthodox Jewish view. Do you mean they believe in a separate law that isn't written anywhere, or simply that the laws in Leviticus were imparted orally, while the ten commandments were imparted in written form?

    It's separate from all of the written Torah, including Leviticus. Here is a wikipedia article.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    Thanks, stonespring. Never heard of that before.
  • Fawkes Cat wrote: »
    An awful lot of the law in the Bible is very sensible if you happen to be a nomadic people in a desert world. So this would seem to argue in favour of one of two origins:
    - codification of sensible ways to live in the world that the Hebrews faced
    - direct dictation by a god with an obsessive interest in public health

    It's sensible Bronze Age tribalism appealing to all six evolved moral taste receptors.
  • MPaulMPaul Shipmate
    Martin54 wrote: »
    Fawkes Cat wrote: »
    An awful lot of the law in the Bible is very sensible if you happen to be a nomadic people in a desert world. So this would seem to argue in favour of one of two origins:
    - codification of sensible ways to live in the world that the Hebrews faced
    - direct dictation by a god with an obsessive interest in public health

    It's sensible Bronze Age tribalism appealing to all six evolved moral taste receptors.

    The Torah is God’s revelation to Moses for the purpose of distinguishing the God of the OT and his people from all others. The exact mode of transmission is speculative and irrelevant. That it is authoritative and from God and Moses was the medium of transmission is all we can know.

    It is important for Christians because Christ was born a Jew and fully acknowledged its authority. Matt5:17 “Do Not think I came to abolish the Law or the prophets, I came not to abolish but to fulfill..”
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    It may feel irrelevant to you, MPaul, but it was something I personally was curious about, to see what theories and speculations people may have. People have theories and speculations about all sorts of things regarding the Bible and Christianity. To me it is relevant, because if a person takes it as all dictated word for word from the mouth of God, they may feel the need to defend cultural things as universal values.
  • And to defend the bits of it which are indefensible.
  • MPaulMPaul Shipmate
    KarlLB wrote: »
    And to defend the bits of it which are indefensible.

    So one sets oneself up as the conscience of an ancient culture based on one’s socialist sensibilities? An absolute sense of what is right must be a wonderful thing to possess.

    @Fineline: I appreciate that. However, one can only speculate on how Moses received revelation. My view, is that he probably gained a lot of information from his father in Law Jethro about the creation. It is also possible that documents were passed down after the flood which he had access to. However, the Levitical law is very specific and he could well have written what God actually spoke. It is stated that Moses and God conversed directly. However, to speculate is ultimately futile.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    MPaul, I disagree that speculation is futile, else I wouldn’t have posted, but you are welcome not to take part if you find it futile. I don’t really agree with your thinking myself - it seems to reduce God into a tiny box - but I understand some people do think this way. Discussion of that would probably need another thread, but I suspect you’ve already been there.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    edited December 2018
    MPaul wrote: »
    KarlLB wrote: »
    And to defend the bits of it which are indefensible.

    So one sets oneself up as the conscience of an ancient culture based on one’s socialist sensibilities? An absolute sense of what is right must be a wonderful thing to possess.

    @Fineline: I appreciate that. However, one can only speculate on how Moses received revelation. My view, is that he probably gained a lot of information from his father in Law Jethro about the creation. It is also possible that documents were passed down after the flood which he had access to. However, the Levitical law is very specific and he could well have written what God actually spoke. It is stated that Moses and God conversed directly. However, to speculate is ultimately futile.

    You're cool with stoning rape victims to death then? My thought that a woman may have many reasons for not screaming other than she's a willing partner, and that if she was, neither party deserves violent death is mere "socialist sensitivity"?

    I'm not infallible, but I don't believe my conscience is completely useless either.
  • I believe anybody who condones stoning rape victims to death because they don't scream has a completely worthless conscience.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    Yes, this is the kind of thing I was thinking of when this woman was arguing that the Jewish law was not at all sexist, and that it treats men and women equally. It doesn't seem a logical thing to argue, but more the kind of backwards argument that comes from fear that questioning it would be saying God is bad.
  • MPaulMPaul Shipmate
    @Karl LB
    No. Next question please?
  • MPaul wrote: »
    @Karl LB
    No. Next question please?

    Why aren't you? It's divine. You MUST be.
  • MPaulMPaul Shipmate
    Martin54 wrote: »
    MPaul wrote: »
    @Karl LB
    No. Next question please?

    Why aren't you? It's divine. You MUST be.
    Read what it says.
  • Oh you ARE then. Make your mind up mate.
  • MPaulMPaul Shipmate
    Martin54 wrote: »
    Oh you ARE then.
    Nup!

  • Why not? Because if you don't rejoice in it, Jesus didn't die for your sins.
  • MPaulMPaul Shipmate
    Martin54 wrote: »
    Why not? Because if you don't rejoice in it, Jesus didn't die for your sins.
    Not true, fortunately.
  • I don't understand. Eternity is six days old or He didn't. But God didn't command the murder of rape victims, that's a lie and He did?
  • MPaulMPaul Shipmate
    So go read it and you’ll find out
  • Sorry? What have you read and found out that I haven't?
  • MPaulMPaul Shipmate
    Not sure but it doesn’t seem we’retalking About the same thing.
  • MPaul wrote: »

    The Torah is God’s revelation to Moses for the purpose of distinguishing the God of the OT and his people from all others. The exact mode of transmission is speculative and irrelevant. That it is authoritative and from God and Moses was the medium of transmission is all we can know.

    It is important for Christians because Christ was born a Jew and fully acknowledged its authority. Matt5:17 “Do Not think I came to abolish the Law or the prophets, I came not to abolish but to fulfill..”

    My view on this is that for Matthew's Jewish Christian audience Jesus was fulfilling the Messianic promise/expectation of the Torah and The Prophets. (I like to see the Torah as the Jewish Lore, but that may not be to everyone's taste).

    There are many pointers to this.
    * Matthew presents Jesus giving a Pentateuch of discourses.
    *At the transfiguration, Peter, James and John first see Moses and Elijah with Jesus, but they disappear and God directs them to listen to His Son. (John the Baptist is Elijah) So Jesus now has the authority which was once vested in the Torah.
    *A prophet like Moses was expected and Jesus was like Moses in that he was saved from death at birth.

    It is not that Jesus acknowledged the authority of the Torah, for the discourse of Matthew Chs 5-7 is the instruction on how to live according to the law with a succinct summary in 7:12 ‘In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.
  • MPaul wrote: »
    Not sure but it doesn’t seem we’retalking About the same thing.

    God murdering rape victims by proxy?
  • MPaulMPaul Shipmate
    It is not that Jesus acknowledged the authority of the Torah
    He did, notwithstanding your insightful comments.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    MPaul wrote: »
    It is not that Jesus acknowledged the authority of the Torah
    He did, notwithstanding your insightful comments.

    Perhaps you should quote the entire sentence.
  • MPaulMPaul Shipmate
    Gee D wrote: »
    MPaul wrote: »
    It is not that Jesus acknowledged the authority of the Torah
    He did, notwithstanding your insightful comments.

    Perhaps you should quote the entire sentence.

    Not sure why. Latchkey kid is saying essentially that Christ nullified Torah by fulfilling it. While in one sense this is so, the Law, Torah, is eternal word. . cannot be superseded.

  • I didn't say that Christ nullified the Law. If anyone said that, it was Paul the apostle.

    What I tried to do was point to a clearer understanding of what Matthew was trying to convey. He stated that Jesus fulfilled the Law and The Prophets. The Tanakh had an expectation of God raising up a prophet like Moses. Matthew says that Jesus is that Moses-like figure.
    He presents a discourse of Jesus on how we may fulfill the Law and the Prophets in Ch 7:12, and a fuller explanation in Chs 5-7 which may surprise those who think a literalistic understanding of the Levitical laws is all that is required based on an out of context reading of 5:17-20.
    Our righteousness is to exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees which was based on the (613) Levitical laws. We are not to break the commandments that come through Jesus in this discourse. Those are the commandments that will not pass away until all is accomplished.
  • MPaulMPaul Shipmate
    I didn't say that Christ nullified the Law. If anyone said that, it was Paul the apostle.

    What I tried to do was point to a clearer understanding of what Matthew was trying to convey. He stated that Jesus fulfilled the Law and The Prophets. The Tanakh had an expectation of God raising up a prophet like Moses. Matthew says that Jesus is that Moses-like figure.
    He presents a discourse of Jesus on how we may fulfill the Law and the Prophets in Ch 7:12, and a fuller explanation in Chs 5-7 which may surprise those who think a literalistic understanding of the Levitical laws is all that is required based on an out of context reading of 5:17-20.
    Our righteousness is to exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees which was based on the (613) Levitical laws. We are not to break the commandments that come through Jesus in this discourse. Those are the commandments that will not pass away until all is accomplished.

    As I said then, and certainly, Jesus did fulfill the law. The issue is now the value of Torah. I do not suggest that believers are obligated to keep the 613 commandments literally, as Christ did this on our behalf. My point is that Torah is a measure of God’s holiness and righteousness.
  • Can you explain how Jesus fulfilled The Prophets? That part seems to get neglected in your responses.

    And what does it mean that "the Torah is a measure of God’s holiness and righteousness?" How do you measure with it or against it? How well does God's holiness and righteousness come up against the measure of the Torah, and how can you demonstrate that? Even as a metaphor it seems far-fetched,

    And considering the Torah also contains Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, and Deutonomy (the second law) which contain much narrative, how do narratives provide a measure?
  • MPaul wrote: »
    I didn't say that Christ nullified the Law. If anyone said that, it was Paul the apostle.

    What I tried to do was point to a clearer understanding of what Matthew was trying to convey. He stated that Jesus fulfilled the Law and The Prophets. The Tanakh had an expectation of God raising up a prophet like Moses. Matthew says that Jesus is that Moses-like figure.
    He presents a discourse of Jesus on how we may fulfill the Law and the Prophets in Ch 7:12, and a fuller explanation in Chs 5-7 which may surprise those who think a literalistic understanding of the Levitical laws is all that is required based on an out of context reading of 5:17-20.
    Our righteousness is to exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees which was based on the (613) Levitical laws. We are not to break the commandments that come through Jesus in this discourse. Those are the commandments that will not pass away until all is accomplished.

    As I said then, and certainly, Jesus did fulfill the law. The issue is now the value of Torah. I do not suggest that believers are obligated to keep the 613 commandments literally, as Christ did this on our behalf. My point is that Torah is a measure of God’s holiness and righteousness.

    So Christ would have murdered a rape victim on our behalf?
  • MPaulMPaul Shipmate
    Can you explain how Jesus fulfilled The Prophets? That part seems to get neglected in your responses.

    And what does it mean that "the Torah is a measure of God’s holiness and righteousness?" How do you measure with it or against it? How well does God's holiness and righteousness come up against the measure of the Torah, and how can you demonstrate that? Even as a metaphor it seems far-fetched,

    And considering the Torah also contains Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, and Deutonomy (the second law) which contain much narrative, how do narratives provide a measure?

    How is it a measure of God’s holiness? I think that comes from Romans 7:12 ‘the law is righteous and the commandment holy and good.’

  • A religious structure cannot measure holiness; it can only ever measure the fervour of one's religiosity. The law, as lived out in temples and overseen by priests, is necessarily a religious structure, a culture as much as a God-focussed set of practices. Being close to God is a matter of holiness, not of religiosity. The prophets call to holiness, in many cases by calling Israel away from its obsession with their religious practice.
  • MPaulMPaul Shipmate
    A religious structure cannot measure holiness; it can only ever measure the fervour of one's religiosity. The law, as lived out in temples and overseen by priests, is necessarily a religious structure, a culture as much as a God-focussed set of practices. Being close to God is a matter of holiness, not of religiosity. The prophets call to holiness, in many cases by calling Israel away from its obsession with their religious practice.

    That’s not the way I see it. I’m sure that mileage varies of course. The Romans reference clarifies that Torah is designed to show God’s measure of righteousness. An impossible standard of course, but it measures the behaviours God expected of his people if he was to judge them righteous.
  • MPaul wrote: »
    How is it a measure of God’s holiness? I think that comes from Romans 7:12 ‘the law is righteous and the commandment holy and good.’

    That statement is not a measure so it does not come from 7:12. And it is likely that in that context the Law is not referring to The Torah and The Prophets.

    Further Pauline views on the law in Romans 7:4-6 appears to accord with the Matthean view that in Christ the Law has been superseded.
    In the same way, my friends, you have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead in order that we may bear fruit for God. While we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we are slaves not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.
  • LatchKeyKidLatchKeyKid Shipmate
    edited December 2018
    Don't forget the Orthodox Jewish view that G-d not only gave Moses the written law, but also gave him an oral law which is also to be followed. I'm not sure whether or not it is believed that the oral law was literally dictated word for word.

    Wasn't this a point a disagreement between the Pharisees and the Sadducees? The Sadducees accepted only the Jewish scriptures, whereas the Pharisees supplemented them with their oral traditions. This was a bone of contention between them. Mark 7 refers to them as the traditions of the elders.

    And note that there are three versions of the Ten Commandments . Interestingly, the commonly used version was destroyed before it was given to Israel, and somehow we know its contents. Perhaps a tradition is that Moses remembered the contents, though that is not recorded.
  • MPaulMPaul Shipmate
    Latchkey Kid:That statement is not a measure so it does not come from 7:12. And it is likely that in that context the Law is not referring to The Torah and The Prophets.

    Further Pauline views on the law in Romans 7:4-6 appears to accord with the Matthean view that in Christ the Law has been superseded

    Paul in Romans 7:4-6 actually states a believer’s position with regard to the law. He is explaining they are under a new deal in Christ. The context of his argument is the derivation of righteousness. It no longer is based in the law but in the believer’s faith in Christ.

    Perhaps we are in danger of digging into trench warfare here but for the record:

    The law is God’s standard of righteousness but none of us can meet it.

    Jesus did walk righteously in his earthly life and his death and resurrection made it possible for his righteousness to be imputed to us by faith.

    The law is eternal and remains what it always was; it is not superseded but fulfilled inChrist and in the believer who walks in faith and righteousness.

    From his writings this was a major issue Paul confronted in the church which was at that stage Jewish in outlook. He had to explain how Christ makes believers righteous without keeping Torah while still reassuring them of the place and value of Torah.

    Hence his conclusion that it was a schoolmaster to lead us to Christ. A temporary way of walking in fellowship with God until The atonement. However, if in fact it was not God’s free standard of righteousness, it could not have even done that job temporarily.
  • Cough. Going back to the original question, I have no answers but some speculation based on my work as a writer. I am obviously not a prophet or apostle, and yet I do pray for and expect help with the devotional writing I do, as it has a fairly large audience and the last thing I want to do is screw things up and mislead or hurt people. I'm not expecting word for word dictation (duh) but there's an odd thing going on where I sort of--listen--if that makes any sense, and I often get the next half a line and write down what I hear. At other times I dither and put down false starts, begin again, etc. But when I'm really "hearing" it, things move very quickly.

    I suspect the answer to "who chose these words, God or the human author?" is "both," and also that it is basically impossible to disentangle who is responsible for what. I doubt the human author would be able to tell you. And I'm virtually certain that different human authors vary in their awareness of the Holy Spirit's role, ranging from "this is dictation right here" to "Seriously? You think I was writing Scripture that time? Um, oh, well, I guess I can sort of see that, now..."
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    edited December 2018
    You are fully and solely responsible for what you write, in my book.
  • Martin54 wrote: »
    You are fully and solely responsible for what you write, in my book.

    Which is not the same as saying that you are fully and solely the source of what you write.
  • By no means.
This discussion has been closed.