Black Spirituality Religion : Some doubt that scholarship requires change in beliefs

Discussion in 'Black Spirituality / Religion - General Discussion' started by info-moetry, Aug 7, 2005.

  1. info-moetry

    info-moetry STAFF STAFF

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    By KRISTEN E. HOLMES / Philadelphia Inquirer

    sorry, forgot to add the link!!!
    http://www.dallasnews.com/religion/stories/exodus_30rel.ART0.91843.html - in case this link does not work......use the one below!!

    http://hierographics.org/JewsGrappleWithExodusStory.html

    The liberation of the Jews from slavery in Egypt is a freedom story that resonates beyond the Bible and was remembered at countless seder tables Wednesday evening with the beginning of Passover. The renowned Jewish theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel calls the Exodus a moment so central to Judaism that the event defines the people for eternity. Yet Judaism has been openly grappling lately with an uncomfortable reality: Archaeologists and other experts are finding no solid evidence outside Scripture that the Exodus, and the slavery in Egypt, ever really happened. One of the greatest stories ever told, it seems, may be a fable built on sand.

    "The story of the Exodus did not happen the way the Bible depicts it, if it happened at all," said Rabbi David Wolpe, senior rabbi at Los Angeles' Sinai Temple. Rabbi Wolpe kicked up a storm last year when he gave several sermons and classes at Passover focusing on research that casts doubt on the Exodus as a historical event. In doing so, he revealed information that many rabbis and scholars have known for years - and shoved the discussion from the libraries out to the pews. Reaction was swift. Traditionalist rabbis took out newspaper ads decrying his words. He received hundreds of e-mails, letters and calls.

    Many were positive, some vitriolic. Most simply asked questions. As Rabbi Wolpe pointed out, nearly 100 years of excavations have yielded no conclusive evidence that the Israelites were ever slaves, lived in Egypt, or wandered in the wilderness for 40 years (because this story is about US black people). Nor is there proof that they conquered Canaan with Joshua as their leader. Many scholars now believe that Israel arose indigenously out of Canaan, land that today is Lebanon, southern Syria, Jordan and the West Bank of Israel. Under the prevailing theory, these Canaanites took on a new identity as Israelites and might have been joined or led by a band of Semites from Egypt, perhaps explaining the Exodus story, scholars say.

    "I thought that it was foolish to assume that rabbis could handle this information and our congregants couldn't," Rabbi Wolpe, author of a number of popular books on Jewish spirituality, said in a recent interview. "So we explored this together." More important than whether five or 5 million Jews may have come out of Egypt is the meaning of the text, he said. The story is about the quest for freedom and how serving God ultimately makes one free.

    "Archaeology and biblical history have demonstrated that the Bible is not intended to be taken as literal history," Rabbi Wolpe said. "It is a spiritual history, and that is the way modern Jews ought to relate to the biblical text." The rabbi's comments are only one example of controversy over the literal accuracy of sacred texts during the past year. A new biblical commentary issued by the Conservative movement tracks some of the same issues raised in Rabbi Wolpe's sermons.

    The Etz Hayim commentary replaces the venerable Hertz Bible, which has been in use since the 1930s. The translations of the Torah are little different from previous Jewish versions. The controversy is contained in commentaries in the back of the book. Some challenge the historical authenticity of the Exodus story; others suggest that the account of the flood may have been borrowed from the story of Gilgamesh. The commentaries have been condemned by Jews who believe the Orthodox tradition that the Torah was dictated to Moses by God, letter by letter. Other faiths have been tied up in similar controversies.

    The International Bible Society, creator of the most popular modern Bible in America, announced it was issuing a new translation of the New Testament. The New International Version Bible, proposed successor to the New International Version, includes what the translators call "gender-accurate" translations of biblical passages. Critics say the new version twists the original texts. Some Muslims and the Los Angeles public school system tangled over a translation of the Quran. Three hundred versions of the English translation done in 1934 by Abdullah Yusuf Ali had been donated to the school system.

    The books were pulled form the shelves after some parents complained that some passages seemed anti-Jewish. Critics of the popular Ali translation say that it is archaic and fails to put the passages in an appropriate historical context. But for many people, questioning the escape of enslaved Israelites who followed Moses through the parted waters of the Red Sea to freedom is like chopping down a pillar on which Judaism stands. "I am for the side that says it did happen," said the theologian and novelist Chaim Potok, author of best-selling books including The Chosen.

    "We can't know yes [that the Exodus happened], and we can't know no. So we speak about yes because a no means that's the end of it." Mr. Potok is a co-editor of Etz Hayim, a new Torah and commentary published by the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents 1.5 million Conservative Jews. The book includes new commentaries that consider advances in archaeology, history and linguistics - several of which question the historical veracity of biblical events including the Exodus. "We think we have a book that is not only reflective of the theology but helps to challenge people," said Rabbi Jerome Epstein, executive vice president of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. "I don't want to say to someone that the Exodus did or didn't happen. I want to raise questions for that individual." At the height of the controversy, some rabbis publicly disagreed with Rabbi Wolpe and privately told him they shared his views, said Rabbi Gerald Wolpe, David Wolpe's father and the rabbi emeritus of Har Zion Temple in Penn Valley.

    "I guess it's being politically correct to do what they did. I thought it was somewhat hypocritical," said the elder rabbi, who is director of the Jewish Theological Seminary's bioethics center and a senior fellow at a similar center at the University of Pennsylvania. "In Judaism," he said, we "have something called midrash, which means you are allowed interpretation. This fundamentalism, that each word of the Bible must be accepted the way it is written, is unwarranted." David Wolpe said this month that he was not sure what he would discuss in this year's Passover sermons.
    Though the controversy was at times hurtful, he said it has taught him to watch what he says. Even so, he said he would change little about last year's Passover sermons. "I remember what my wife said when the outcry first took off," he said. "She said this is what happens when sunlight hits people's eyes. But they'll adjust." Staff writer Jeffrey Weiss contributed to this report.
     
  2. Deepvoice

    Deepvoice Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Wow thats deep and I know deep.
     
  3. river

    river Watch Her Flow MEMBER

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    Call me a consummate ignoramus of the highest degree (no pun intended) but I do not understand why Jews are looking to the bible as scripture.

    However I gather that the doings and undoings of Jews is quite beside the point you are making here so I won't get into it.

    Yes, I see in this article the danger of setting belief above knowledge. When knowledge comes it is so threatening to the belief that was based on ignorance that the whole system is jeopardized.

    This gives new meaning to what people say about if they knew they woudn't have to believe. Maybe if they knew belief would be impossible but is that reason enough not to know? Some people think so and suppress truth in order to save their beliefs.

    That's a sad irony for people who believe the truth will set them free.
     
  4. anAfrican

    anAfrican Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    for another site with a viewpoint differing from the established "acceptability", spend some time browsing through http://www.michaelbradley.info/.

    as has been said about mr. bradley
    he is a jew that is not too terribly liked by "mainstream" jews.

    interesting reads!
     
  5. jamesfrmphilly

    jamesfrmphilly going above and beyond PREMIUM MEMBER

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    well, if you insist................... :darts:
     
  6. river

    river Watch Her Flow MEMBER

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    You're just in rare form this morning Brotha James
    Hotep
     
  7. river

    river Watch Her Flow MEMBER

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    Thanks anAfrican

    I will read it.

    That's a kinda ironic thing for a man to say who is himself professor emeritus.
     
  8. Sekhemu

    Sekhemu Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Thanks for posting the Link anAfrican, this is deep.
     
  9. SAMURAI36

    SAMURAI36 Banned MEMBER

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    How can this be doubted, when it comes straight from the Serpent's mouth? :grin:

    Now we are faced with a crossroads; if this one aspect of the Bible is found to be a falsehood, what else about the Bible is untrue?

    PEACE
     
  10. anAfrican

    anAfrican Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    That's a question I keep waiting for folks to get to with respect to a lot of things that are going on today;

    If security of a company's product is found to be a falsehood, what else about that company is untrue?

    If veractiy of a political party's platform is found to be a falsehood, what else about that party is untrue?

    If some aspect of a business's practices are found to be a falsehood, what else about that business is untrue?

    If validity of a court's decisions are fouind to be a falsehood, what else about that court are untrue?

    Once questions like these are asked, only then can the road to "understanding", "knowledge" and "wisdom" begin.
     
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