A Safe Environment to Grow; Ambiguity in OT Studies; Random Quotes on Classical Scholarship; God Lies?; Proto-Lucian

1.  Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People, pages 10, 15:

From Lowell Thomas’ “Introduction”: The way to develop self-confidence, [Dale Carnegie] says, is to do the thing you fear to do and get a record of successful experiences behind you.  So he forces each man to talk at every session of the course.  The audience is sympathetic.  They are all in the same boat, and, by constant practice, they develop a courage, confidence, and enthusiasm that carry over into their private speaking.

Dale Carnegie: I gave the talk and urged them to go out and test it in their business and social contacts, and then come back to class and speak about their experiences and the results they had achieved.  What an interesting assignment!  These men and women, hungry for self-improvement, were fascinated by the idea of working in a new kind of laboratory—the first and only laboratory of human relationships for adults that has ever existed.

“When I used to walk through my establishment, no one greeted me.  My employees actually looked the other way when they saw me approaching.  But now they are all my friends and even the janitor calls me by my first name.”

I like the idea of learning and developing confidence in a safe environment, even as I receive constructive criticism.  I like the idea of being given practical tips to apply in my day-to-day life and then updating someone on how I did and what happened—whether it be good or bad.  And I like the idea of people liking me.

So I will be reading this book for Autism Awareness Month, and maybe my reading will spill into the month of May.  This is a time-tested book on social skills.  But, as a person with Asperger’s, will I find all parts of the book adequate to meet my needs?  We’ll see!  I’m sure that I’ll learn something, and that I’ll think of things that I wish the book addressed.  Stay tuned!

2.  Rolf Rendtorff, The Covenant Formula:

There’s a little blurb in the beginning called “Old Testament Studies,” which describes the series of which this book is a part.  It says the following:

The mid-twentieth century was a period of great confidence in the study of the Hebrew Bible: many historical and literary questions appeared to be settled, and a constructive theological programme was well underway.  Now, at the turn of the century, the picture is very different.  Conflicting positions are taken on historical issues; scholars disagree not only on how to pose the questions, but also on what to admit as evidence.  Sharply divergent methods are used in ever more popular literary studies of the Bible.  Theological ferment persists, but is the Bible’s theological vision coherent, or otherwise?

I love this quote, but I won’t count the ways right here!  I’ll just briefly comment on where Rendtorff expresses these sorts of ideas.  Rendtorff mentions the maximalist/minimalist debate on the historicity of Abraham; the lack of scholarly consensus that has emerged on the traditional Documentary Hypothesis, as some date J to the exile, rather than to Israel’s monarchical period (the view of the Documentary Hypothesis); and the tendency of scholars to see earlier layers of the text as better (but better for what?).  I’m not sure where Rendtorff lines up on these issues, but we will see!

3.  R. Pfeiffer, History of Classical Scholarship, pages 45, 51-52, 54:

Page 45: Born at the beginning of the fifth century [B.C.E.] and thus coeval of Protagoras, [Gorgias] is said to have reached the age of 105 or even 109 years…

Too bad Willard Scott wasn’t around back then to celebrate that fact!

Pages 51-52: …from another book simply called…’Collection’…comes the story of a celebrated beauty who was married to fourteen men.

What a man-eater!  A proto-Elizabeth Taylor!

Page 54: …the ten hexameters [in a poem by fifth century B.C.E. poet Critias] may be part of a longer poem on the lives and works of a number of poets, starting perhaps from Homer as the son of a rivergod…

“May be.”  “Perhaps.”  There’s a lot of uncertainty there!  I mean, are scholars not sure if the poem says Homer was born of a river-god? 

4.  R.P.C. Hanson, Allegory and Event, pages 228-230:

Origen thought that God sometimes deceived people for their own betterment.  He points to Jeremiah 20:7, where Jeremiah accuses God of deceiving him.  And, as an example of God’s deception, Origen cites the story of Jonah, in which God promises to overthrow Nineveh in forty days, yet does not do so.  According to Origen, God is lying to the Ninevites in order to frighten them and induce them to repent.

I don’t think that God was “lying” to the Ninevites when he said that he would destroy Nineveh in forty days, for I believe that God would have done so, had Nineveh not repented.  But my viewpoint may be open-theism compared to what Origen held to be true.  Origen may have thought that God foresaw that the Ninevites would repent and that God wouldn’t destroy the city, and so God knew the truth of how things would pan out.  Still, God said something that contradicted that truth—God said that Nineveh would be destroyed in forty days—and so, in a sense, God was lying.

A rabbinic tradition actually had the same sort of problem with the Jonah story as Origen: since God did not destroy Nineveh, was God lying when he said that he would do so?  The rabbinic tradition states that God’s promise was actually fuflilled.  God predicted that Nineveh would be overturned, and she was.  She repented, and that was an overturning in itself!

I think of a conversation at my dinner-table at DePauw University.  An atheist friend of mine was grilling a liberal friend about Genesis 1.  My liberal friend was saying that God inspired Genesis 1, and yet the universe and life did not originate as Genesis 1 narrates.  “So is God a liar?”, my atheist friend asked.  “Oh, it’s just a white lie,” my liberal friend responded.  “You’re saying God’s a liar!”, the atheist retorted in triumph.

I know that Titus 1:2 says that it’s impossible for God to lie.  My impression, though, is that many Christians—even the most conservative—assert that the Bible isn’t always literally true.  When the Bible presents God as having hands or a head or a backside, many Christians claim that the Bible is using an anthropomorphism.  God doesn’t really have those body parts, they say, but the Bible is accomodating us by portraying an incomprehensible God in language that we can understand.

Maybe there are parts of the Bible that are not literally true, and yet God propogated them (or allowed them to be propogated) for a reason that contributes to our good, and that also met the needs of God’s people throughout history.  Maybe what we should be trusting is not the literal facticity of all of Scripture, but the goodness of the God who gave Scripture.  That’s what Titus 1:2 is all about: relying on God’s promise for our well-being!

Yet, skeptics may have problems with this.  If kids are told that there’s a Santa Claus, after all, what happens to them when they’re disappointed to learn that Santa does not exist?  Isn’t it better for parents to be up-front with their kids and not lie to them?

But this brings us back to trust.  I doubt that parents were trying to harm their kids when they told them about Santa Claus.  Many kids who learn the truth about Santa don’t go through life resenting their parents for lying to them.  They realize that their parents meant well and were having fun with their kids. 

 5.  N.F. Marcos, The Septuagint in Context, page 265, 233:

Page 265: The biblical text used by Josephus has been studied in relation to the proto-Lucianic problem.

Page 233: …the text used by Josephus in his Antiquities, written towards the end of the 1st century CE, is Lucianic in type from Samuel to Maccabees…

Lucian lived in the third century C.E. and developed a recension of the Septuagint.  Apparently, he was utilizing stuff that originating before his time, for Josephus uses a Greek text of the Hebrew Bible that resembles the recension of Lucian from Samuel to Maccabees.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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