How can the study of the Bible strengthen and elevate the mind as no other study can?How can the study of the Bible strengthen and elevate the mind as no other study can?

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justaguide's profile pic

justaguide | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

As far as the Wisdom in the Bible is concerned, I was just reading this poem called If by Rudyard Kipling. I'm pretty confident anyone who actually wants to read the Bible for its Wisdom, doesn't need to spend years going over 1000s of pages in a language you're going to misinterpret half the time; 32 lines of this poem and you're half way to enlightenment !

On a more serious note, the problem when people try to use books like the Bible to elevate the way they think is that they fail to read it in an objective way and remember the true reason they are reading it. Most often, all that should be actually noticed is brushed aside for all the fluff on the "illogicasies" of God.

jmj616's profile pic

jmj616 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted on

Why are so many people, in what is supposedly the most advanced country in the world, unable to think honestly about this badly-flawed old book. It is full of mistakes. All the squinting and mental gymnastics in the world will not hide this clear fact. Please watch this 2 minute summary of only some of the bible's mistakes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9c0RFxXrYzg&NR=1&feature=fvwp

One of the great things about this "most advanced country in the world" is that no one has to read the Bible if they do not want to.  If I have some time, I will try to answer some of the questions that are raised by the video that you posted, although I wonder if you're really interested in reading serious answers.  My biggest question is why you seem almost obsessed about disproving the Bible.  If you really don't like the book, read something else.

stolperia's profile pic

stolperia | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I think posts #3 and #7 raise points that are relevant responses to the original question.  As a piece of literature, the Bible presents opportunities to do comparative studies of word and phrase use when comparing translations, aside from the possibilities of tracing the development of English as a living language (compare the KJV to a contemporary translation!)  Go further by comparing translations with paraphrased versions.

As a historic record, it gives insight into life patterns and beliefs in past cultures that could be helpful in relating to descendants of those cultures in modern times.  The geography of events and locations described in the Bible can support research into how cultures develop, factors influencing location of settlements and events, and how environments evolve and change over time.  Sociologists can trace patterns of societal or familial hierarchy and how those attitudes influenced the development of governmental patterns.

Any of these approaches could "strengthen and elevate" a student's mind without addressing any faith component the student might or might not bring to the study.  For me, insights I glean through these fields of study enrich and expand my appreciation of the Bible.  As I work to understand and apply the lessons in the Bible (yes, I deeply believe that the Bible is a gift from God to direct my life and relationships to the world around me), I take pleasure in additional lessons learned along the way.

 

booboosmoosh's profile pic

booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Well, for every person who reads this book, there may be a different reason. Some read as it feeds their faith. For others, there is a desire to learn about different faiths. It offers many kinds of stories which I have been fond of since childhood. It also offers practical advice, as well as philosophical questions to consider. I find it speaks to countless individuals in a variety of ways which is an amazing feat for a piece of literature. In the KJV there is wonderful poetry as well. With these elements, the strengthening and elevation of the mind come with the broad consideration of the writing and how you respond to it...perhaps the sign, as always, of truly great literature.
kplhardison's profile pic

Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

Reading the Bible can elevate one's mind regardless of religious belief, scientific persuasion, or opinion on translation errors because one of its foundational underpinnings is wisdom, or as Proverbs says it, Wisdom. Wisdom can lead you to living a more successful life with fewer errors to patch up after 10 and 20 years of adulthood; wisdom can lead you away from  unbeneficial friendship or marital alliances; wisdom can lead you toward right relationships with other people and other nations. For instance, wisdom in the Bible teaches that naivete and gullibility are harmful; that he who talks much gets much trouble; that an angry heart leads to turmoil; that a peaceful household is a gift; that parents must not provoke children to wrath; that one is elevated by loving and forgiving others; and many more useful gems of truth for living.

jmj616's profile pic

jmj616 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted on

Elfgirl, if you disagree so strongly with the ideas of the Bible, I suggest you use your time to pursue other topics, particularly those of your interest, instead of reading the Bible so throroughly you could quote all of its mistakes.

:)

appletrees's profile pic

appletrees | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

I think answering the question depends entirely on the perspective of the reader. For those who experience an emotional and intellectual engagement with books, many topics may inspire them: romance, history, tragedy. Some people are moved by fiction, some by biography, some by science. Having one's mind elevated by a book is a purely subjective matter. The Bible is a great work of literature, and an important one. But the plays of Shakespeare are also important; so is War and Peace, and Rabbit, Run, and Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex, and  Possession.

jmj616's profile pic

jmj616 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted on

We do not consider the bat a bird now because it is a mammal (a classification term that man has come up with--remember), but to the ancient Hebrews, the classification of bats with other flying creatures would have been perfectly acceptable. -SP

Well, let's ignore your dreadfully sexist use of the word 'man' to describe the human race, and let's gloss over your attempt to suggest that maybe we are wrong to classify bats as mammals, and we'll move to the crux...

Ahhhh... Translation Errors ... the refuge of the desperate... If God dictated his 'word' to people then presumably he took pains to ensure the original didn't have any God-to-human errors. Why then does he not protect his work during the next generation of translation? God is extremely lazy it seems.

Or, in fact, the oft rolled-out excuse of translation errors is a sham. BECAUSE... HELLO???? WHAT ORIGINAL BIBLE ARE YOU REFERRING TO? There isn't one.

The Bible is a provably messed-up, mish-mash, hotch-potch load of nonsense. And the wild contortions and reflex foot-shuffles that people do to ignore this fact is horrible and embarrassing.

You write:

Ahhhh... Translation Errors ... the refuge of the desperate... If God dictated his 'word' to people then presumably he took pains to ensure the original didn't have any God-to-human errors. Why then does he not protect his work during the next generation of translation? God is extremely lazy it seems.

I admire your originality, because your comment is truly innovative.  For centuries, scholars have toiled to translate the Bible as accurately as possible, because they felt that a great work of literature (divine or not) deserved nothing less than an excellent translation for those who could not read the original.  Then, in the year 2010, along comes Elfgirl and says they were all wasting their time--they should have demanded that God come down and tell them how to translate correctly.  And since God did not do so, Elfgirl concludes that God is lazy, and why should we bother to be any less so?

Did you ever consider that the translators who made mistakes were a bit lazy?  Or, if not lazy, then simply mortal, prone to the mistakes that human beings commonly make?  Did you ever consider that Elfgirl may have made a mistake about the meaning of the word "bird" in a translation of a verse in Leviticus?  Or  is Elfgirl so important that God must come down and tell her exactly how to understand the Bible?

As for your contention that there is no "original Bible," I don't think that there is any serious doubt that the Five Books of Moses (and most other parts of the Old Testament) were written originally in Hebrew.  Even if it were not, all translations of the Old Testament are translations of the ancient Hebrew text, for the simple reason that it is the oldest known version of the work; it would behoove us, obviously, to examine that Hebrew text before we drew any conclusions about the precise meaning of the Bible.

jmj616's profile pic

jmj616 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted on

I'm not sure that the discussion above is necessarily what the original post references. While it is certainly dogmatic to make a blanket statement that a study of the Bible can strengthen and elevate the mind as no other study can, I don't think that one has to believe that the Bible is infallible to have his or mind strengthened by studying it. For example, many of my high-level English students who grew up studying the Bible (especially older translations of it such as the King James version) always do much better reading and analyzing Shakespeare and other challenging English texts because they are familiar with difficult language and poetic literature (the Bible is often taught as literature, and most agree that it has significant literary merit). Thus, in this sense, if someone studies the Bible, he or she can develop comprehension and analytical skills as well while considering the morals presented throughout the Bible. Similarly, if a student is from the United States or other countries which were primarily founded by people who held Judeo-Christian beliefs, the Bible should be interesting to them as a reference point for the origin of many laws and philosophies.

In regards to Post 6, the verse you cited is in English, not Leviticus's original language--Hebrew. Pointing out discrepancies in the English language might prove that a translation has errors, but it certainly would not be enough to convince someone to change his faith or to believe that the book itself "has a vast number of factual errors." Specifically, during the time period of Leviticus's authorship, humans do not appear to have had the same type of biological classifications as we do now. We do not consider the bat a bird now because it is a mammal (a classification term that man has come up with--remember), but to the ancient Hebrews, the classification of bats with other flying creatures would have been perfectly acceptable.

FYI: I have elaborated on the Hebrew text of the verse in question; see post #11.

jmj616's profile pic

jmj616 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted on

As for " a vast number of factual errors" [in the bible], who can really prove that it was a factual error - Thisasainkid.

I can, watch closely... Leviticus 11:13-19...

And these you shall detest among the birds; they shall not be eaten; they are detestable: the eagle, the bearded vulture, the black vulture, the kite, the falcon of any kind, every raven of any kind, the ostrich, the nighthawk, the sea gull, the hawk of any kind, the little owl, the cormorant, the short-eared owl, the barn owl, the tawny owl, the carrion vulture, the stork, the heron of any kind, the hoopoe, and the bat.

Okay-cokey, are you ready?...In the above verse, The Bible clearly states that bats are birds. Bats 100% definitely aren't birds. The Bible is wrong. QED

Piece of cake.

 

 

If you want to disprove the Bible, you're going to have to try a little harder, Elfgirl.

Of course you are correct that according to the contemporary understanding of the English word "bird," bats are not birds, but rather mammals.  This is based on a decision to classify living beings in a particular way: cold-blooded animals with feathers are classified as "birds," and warm-blooded animals with hair or fur are classified as "mammals."  This is a very legitimate, logical way to classify different living beings.  However, it is no less legitimate to classify beings in a different way.  For example, one may decide to call all beings that fly "birds," and all those that walk on four legs "quadrapeds."  Or, it is no less legitimate to divide all living beings into two large groups: those that have ears and those that don't.  Contemporary scientists have agreed on certain standard classifications, and for good reasons; from a philosophical standpoint, one system of classification is not truly more "correct" than any other.

More important than all this, however, is the necessity to examine the Bible text in its original language, in this case, Hebrew.  The Hebrew word that you translate as "bird" is oaf, which is derived from the verb l'ofef, to fly.  The more common word for bird is tsipor.

Thus, a literal translation of the verse you quote would be:

And these you shall detest among the "flyers":
the eagle, the vulture...the bat.

The author (or Author) of Leviticus never called a bat a bird (probably because he/He knew that it is in many ways very different than a bird); rather, he called it a "flyer," because--as you and I know--a bat can fly.

scarletpimpernel's profile pic

scarletpimpernel | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Elfgirl, one of the wonderful aspects of humanity is that we can have discussions and disagreements, but more people would give credence to your argument if you would avoid common fallacies in your arguments, for example, your use of straw man. I did not imply or state that we are wrong to classify bats as mammals; I simply said that the classifications that we have now are different from what other cultures had; that doesn't mean that we are wrong.

BTW, I'm not a sexist; I just think that we've become too sensitive when it comes to gender nouns and pronouns--to the point that my students often slaughter pronoun-antecedent agreement in order to dance around using "him" or "her."

It's great to have discussions with others, but it would be more effective if the discussions maintained a logical tone.

scarletpimpernel's profile pic

scarletpimpernel | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I'm not sure that the discussion above is necessarily what the original post references. While it is certainly dogmatic to make a blanket statement that a study of the Bible can strengthen and elevate the mind as no other study can, I don't think that one has to believe that the Bible is infallible to have his or mind strengthened by studying it. For example, many of my high-level English students who grew up studying the Bible (especially older translations of it such as the King James version) always do much better reading and analyzing Shakespeare and other challenging English texts because they are familiar with difficult language and poetic literature (the Bible is often taught as literature, and most agree that it has significant literary merit). Thus, in this sense, if someone studies the Bible, he or she can develop comprehension and analytical skills as well while considering the morals presented throughout the Bible. Similarly, if a student is from the United States or other countries which were primarily founded by people who held Judeo-Christian beliefs, the Bible should be interesting to them as a reference point for the origin of many laws and philosophies.

In regards to Post 6, the verse you cited is in English, not Leviticus's original language--Hebrew. Pointing out discrepancies in the English language might prove that a translation has errors, but it certainly would not be enough to convince someone to change his faith or to believe that the book itself "has a vast number of factual errors." Specifically, during the time period of Leviticus's authorship, humans do not appear to have had the same type of biological classifications as we do now. We do not consider the bat a bird now because it is a mammal (a classification term that man has come up with--remember), but to the ancient Hebrews, the classification of bats with other flying creatures would have been perfectly acceptable.

clairewait's profile pic

clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I have to agree with post #2 as a starting matter.  Christians believe the Bible is God-breathed and Holy Spirit filled.  They essentially read it with the thought in mind that it is God's letter directly to humans, filled with  messages of hope and love, but also instructions for life.

I might add, however, that many different texts could be considered inspiring, even when they are not taken from a religious or faith point of view.  As far as strengthening and elevating the mind goes, the Bible is full of history, law, proverbs, poetry, parables, and prophesy.  Because of these things, even a non-believer (in the Bible as the Word of God) could be inspired by its message.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

This is only true if you happen to believe that the Bible is a book that is more meaningful than other books.  If you truly believe that the Bible is the revealed word of God, then of course studying it would elevate your mind.  After all, what could elevate your mind more than the word of the being that created the universe.

If you do not believe in the Bible as the revealed word of God, then you will not believe that studying the Bible is somehow superior to studying other books or subjects.

thewanderlust878's profile pic

thewanderlust878 | Student, College Freshman | (Level 3) Salutatorian

Posted on

I don't personally believe that the Bible can strengthen the mind like no other study can. I believe that it can be a good thing to study, and would give great insight to anyone who reads it, not just people who believe it's true. However, I also believe that there are many other things that can be studied and be much more effective and useful than a book that tells people how to live their lives. 

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