Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Cardboard coffee table

Greetings.

Jewish Date:  7 Nisan 5769.

Today’s quasi-holidays:  April Fool’s Day, International Dadaism Month.

Worthy cause of the day: “Cutting Emissions is a Bargain - Support Cap and Trade!”

Relevant to Divine Misconceptions:
  1. More government violation of freedom of religion: “Morocco expels five Christian missionaries for proselytizing"”, “China cracks down in Muslim west”.
  2. Government hypocrisy on freedom of religion: “China turns to Buddhism to calm Tibet, Taiwan tensions”.
  3. “Plea Deal Includes Resurrection Clause: Mother to Testify Against Alleged Cult and to Go Free if Son Rises From Dead”: Interesting religion-based clause in a legal deal.
  4. I would like to speak a bit about one of my latest acquisitions, The Other Bible, edited by Willis Barnstone.  The Other Bible consists of religious texts which are not part of the standard Christian Bible from a variety of sources spread over something on the order of 1,500 years:  Jewish apocrypha, pseudepigrapha, mystical, and sectarian texts (including the Dead Sea Scrolls), Christian apocrypha, Gnostic texts, Mandaean texts, Manichaean texts, and even pagan texts.  The groups whose works were utilized are not a single religion, and these works thus form a rather artificial collection.  Also the Pharisaic/Orthodox Jewish contributions, listed under “Haggadah”, “Kabbalah”, and “The Zohar, the Book of Radiance (Kabbalah)”, were never intended to be taken as scripture.  As such, “The”, “Other”, and “Bible” are all rather inappropriate for reference to this collection.  In the introduction, the editor conceives of these works being part of a Judeo-Christian “greater bible” which we now have easier access to.  While I have to agree with the editor that these works are valuable for investigating the development of religious thought, I find the notion of a “greater bible” rather repugnant.  Religion is not a free-for-all with texts playthings to delight in.  To accept a book as scripture is an explicit endorsement of its content.  This is why the New Testament is not part of what Jews consider “Bible”:  they view it as a separate, detached collection and not a continuation of the Hebrew Bible.  Bundling together works from multiple religions under a single rubric to imply they are really part of a greater whole, a collection not endorsed as scripture by any single religion except maybe Bahá’ís (and that is a maybe) is an even worse mistake than bundling the Hebrew Bible together with the New Testament.
Today’s news and commentary:
Today’s weird thing is the “Cardboard coffee table”. Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron
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