Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Another Bible Bloomer - God's Law is Unjust!

Stone 'em, I say! It's the only language these women understand!
The author of the Gospel of Matthew is a bit like a fireship launched into the wind, the way he blunders about stupidly off message and making the Bible stories about Jesus look even more absurd. I think of it as Matthew's Silly Bible. It's a wonder his effort got included in the Bible at all when it was being compiled. It had obviously been read with about as much thought as it was written with.

Here's another of his blunders - he tells us that God's Laws are not just laws, as in laws designed to give justice.

First, God's Law as it relates to pre-marital sex and adultery, especially if a husband finds his wife has played the field a little.

If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her, And give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid:

Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel's virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate: And the damsel's father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her; And, lo, he hath given occasions of speech against her, saying, I found not thy daughter a maid; and yet these are the tokens of my daughter's virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city.

And the elders of that city shall take that man and chastise him; And they shall amerce him in an hundred shekels of silver, and give them unto the father of the damsel, because he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel: and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days.

But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father's house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.

If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel. [My emphasis.]

Deuteronomy 22:13-22

So no doubt there; God's justice demands that any woman who is not a virgin when she marries or who plays away with a married man, has to be killed. There is no alternative and no wiggle room.

But, what's this we find in the Gospel of Matthew, when writing about pregnant Mary and her soon-to-be husband, Joseph?

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.

But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. [My emphasis.]

Matthew 1:18-20

This means, before Joseph knew about the Holy Ghost thing (Okay! Look, we're in Bible world here!) because he was a 'just man' he was not going to obey God's Law as spelled out in Leviticus. Instead, he was kinder and more just than God, and was minded just to keep her out of sight for a while.

How so? Does the author of Matthew think God's Law is unjust and not what a kind and caring - 'just' - person would do? Does he think it would have been better to be understanding of Mary's little er... dalliance, as he thought it to be at the time?

In fact, of course, the author of Matthew was writing for people who would probably have been repulsed at the bloodthirsty misogyny of the Old Testament god and would have looked favourably on Joseph's kindly and understanding disposition. I wonder though if it ever occurred to Matthew, that he was telling us that the God of the Old Testament, of whom Jesus was reputedly a manifestation, come to confirm the Law, not to destroy it (Matthew 5:17), was not a just god, but a nasty, cruel and unjust god.


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7 comments :

  1. Please can you elaborate on what you mean by "[Joseph] was not going to obey God's law as spelled out in Leviticus"? You make no further reference to Leviticus in this article, and it is therefore difficult to follow what - if anything - you are basing that statement on.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The relevant Levitican Laws are listed in the blog, as is Joseph's intended action. The entire blog deals with the difference.

      Delete
  2. Firstly, the post makes explicit reference to the book of Leviticus, not “Levitical laws” more generally. In the interests of intellectual rigour, and of upholding the desire for strictly evidence based discussion championed by this blog, it would be better if – in the case that no such reference from the book of Leviticus can be given – the wording of the original post were amended accordingly.

    Secondly, my first point may be a moot point if the excerpt from Deuteronomy used did still add weight to the argument put forth in the post – but it doesn’t. It is clear, even in the mediaeval English you have chosen (bizarrely) to cite, that reference is explicitly made to cases where a man decides he hates his wife, or in which a couple are actually caught in the act of adultery. There is no suggestion that Mary and Joseph meet either of these criteria, and Joseph’s actions are therefore not relevant to the bit of Deuteronomy cited.

    If there is a good point to be made here, this post – I am sorry to say – does not make it well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah! You lack the intellect to realise that the use of the word 'Levitican' was a mistake and that I was very clearly and explicitly referring to the Mosaic Laws in Deuteronomy that I spelled out with a verbatim quote from the King James version of the Bible.

      No wonder you feel incapable of dealing with the substance of the blog and merely want to bicker over the minor and irrelevant detail.

      Delete
    2. The choice of 'Medieval English' (actually normally referred to as Elizabethan English since the Middle Ages are normally assumed to have ended in 1492) was forced upon me by the fact that the King James version of the Bible was written in it. I'm astonished you didn't know that.

      Have you anything intelligent to say, or was that your best effort?

      Delete
  3. As per my comment, your mistake would have been a moot point if the text you used from Deutronomy clearly supported the argument - but it doesn't.

    I don't really care whether the text was in Medieval English or Elizabethan English. Either way, it is very outmoded. Can you please explain why it was "forced" upon you?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll leave your infantile bickering and feigned incompetence with basic English comprehension for others to admire. It will help them understand why you've elected to remain anonymous.

      Delete

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