Fourth Thesis

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by Victor, Feb 21, 2013.

  1. AdvaitaZen

    AdvaitaZen New Member

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    How isn't it a condition?

    If there is no such condition, why preach, why try to convert anyone?

    If it is unconditional, whatsoever I do is irrelevant, whether I know Christ or not doesn't matter, I am assured eternal life whether I want it or not.

    No, the love is not unconditional, that is the whole point.

    Love must be proven, returned in kind, not abused.

    He has shown his love by the sacrifice of Christ, now you must show your love by sacrificing yourself.

    Christians will try to explain away many things like "unless you hate your father and mother, your brother and sister - indeed your own life - you cannot be my disciple" and that "each one must carry his own cross" but it means exactly this. What you are is not what you think you are, he is trying to bring us out of this delusion by the kindest means available: Love.

    You must die to that love, then eternal life is there.

    Identified as the form, you remain afraid, you understand you will perish.

    When this identification falls, you see you are the whole, only appearing here. Then no death can touch you, but eternal life is only with the father, not as something separate.

    Never think it is unconditional.
     
  2. Jane-Q

    Jane-Q ...pain...

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    Hi, Victor.
    I'm Jane.


    [post=276274]Has it ever occurred to you that in our Christian doctrine it is always the victim who bears the weight of the sin and not the perpetrator?[/post]
    --Victor.​

    Yes. Constantly.
    For most people in my line of work, this is always emotionally in the back our minds.

    Liberal Christianity has one foot in the New Testament and the other foot in modern psychology:

    a. Forgiveness helps "unchain" the victim so they can again move forward in their life.
    b. Regarding the perpetrator: "We are not punished
    for our sins but by them."
    --Wil's answer.

    Fundamentalist Christians, by contrast, would prefer (like you?) to keep one foot, instead, in the Old Testament:
    "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth . . . "
    --Leviticus 24:20 & Deuteronomy 19:21.

    In legal theory, this is called Lex talionis (law of just compensation, Qasas in Islam). But by Jesus' times, neither Roman officials nor the Oral Tradition of the Rabbis is taking "an eye for an eye" literally. Each typically recommends monetary compensation, instead.

    This is true also in the Quran. It is considered pious to show mercy, to give the person who has wronged you a second chance
    (but only one second chance). This alongside a monetary compensation, paid out by the wrongdoer (Quran 2:178).
    But the Quran also makes a gesture toward your idea of karma, Victor:

    . . . a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, an equal wound for a wound. If you forgo demanding this payment out of charity to the wrongdoer, it will tally-up as expiation for your own bad deeds . . .
    --Quran 5:45.
    But the karmic tallysheet does not get pulled out until the Last Judgment. I think you are talking about "just compensation" in this life. Not letting the "wrongdoer" off the hook (even if doing so serves the ultimate purpose of compensating for one's own prior bad deeds).

    As you can see, there is an implicit element of mercy in Roman and Rabbinic law, and an explicit element in
    Sharia. To blame Christianity alone for being merciful, rather than being tough on crime, is a pretty narrow reading of legal history. Don't you think?

    Besides . . . when Jesus says to turn the other cheek or go the extra mile with a wrongdoer
    (Matthew 5:38-41), it does not seem to me that Jesus is asking for you to forgive them.

    No. It is not about forgiveness of the wrongdoer. It is about waking them up.



    Jane.


     
  3. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    namaste and welcome Jane,

    my understanding of an eye for an eye is that it is the limit, it is saying the maximum punishment for wrongdoing is the extent of the wrongdoing perpetrated...ie not a life for an eye, or an eye for a tooth...nor cutting off a hand for robbery...but repayment of that which is stolen.

    but yes...waking up the wrong doer...

    we trained kids to tell bullies "It's ok if you think that way. You are entitled to your opinion" It made them stop and think. Best Buddies teaches kids who walk with and support students with disabilities say "Do you think that is appropriate? Would you like someone to say that to your sister or brother?"....again...waking folks up to what their words and actions are doing...
     
  4. Jane-Q

    Jane-Q ...pain...

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    Hi, wil.

    You are correct about "an eye for an eye," regarding how this legal concept evolved. Setting an upper limit upon punishment.

    The key to ancient law though, in and of itself, is "fairness."
    (Scales of justice.)
    That has not evolved.

    Turn the clock back four or five millennia . . .
    Ancient law codes are surprisingly basic.


    a. You borrow tools from George and promise to pay him back in grain at harvest time. The law stipulates what George's rights are and what your rights are in handling this debt. Contract Law 101.

    b. While working together, say, you cut off George's hand. The law stipulates that George has the right to cut off your hand, in payment. This is also treated like a debt. There is an implied contract at work here, too.
    Ancient agrarian citystates treat all public interpersonal interactions (even crimes) the same way. Like a contract. Like the handling of a debt.

    This is the origin of civilized
    ethics.
    You are contractually related to every citizen of the citystate.
    You treat George fairly. George treats you fairly. Both of you prosper, together.
    In this micro-contract, you are mutually indebted to each other for your prosperity.
    (This two-person contract is enforced, if it becomes necessary, by the king. And his laws. Selfishness in the public sphere is seen not only as "primitive" but as a form of sedition.)

    But this contract is actually two-pronged.

    Even if you never do interact with each and every citizen of the citystate personally, you are nonetheless indebted to the larger collective for your personal prosperity. For your "personal wellbeing."
    You owe a debt, thereby, to the "
    general wellbeing" of the citystate. (Taxes. Public service. Participation in civic work-projects. Participation in festivals.)
    (This macro-contract is emblematized in the form of the citystate's patron god or goddess, who has "agreed" to enforce this contract. Via his or her personal servants, the priesthood.)

    The polytheistic gods portrayed in mythological tales may appear to have been rather amoral, by modern standards. But one thing you can say for them: according to the lore, they did stick by their public contracts. They were honest in their public duties. And expected the same of the collective of citizens who served them.

    Civilization (at its core), wil, is a two-pronged contract. A two-pronged deal. A two-pronged "covenant."
    The profane and the sacred.

    1. Treat your immediate neighbor fairly.
    (Be lawful when acting in personal self-interest.)

    2. Treat your god fairly.
    (Be obedient to the best-interests of the collective.)

    It was very basic, millenniums ago, in the ancient world.
    Basic fairness . . . as the path to mutual prosperity.
    Civilization, it might be argued, only went downhill from there.

    Modern philosophies and religions emerged out of the Axial Age, two to three millennia ago. But these added surprisingly little new.


    Added little new . . . to the public ethics already in existence in every polytheistic citystate.
    (A citizen's internalized sense of law.)

    Added little new . . . to the communal devotion to "something larger" already central to the cult-life of a polytheistic citystate.
    (A citizen's internalized sense of obedience to a higher purpose.)

    Modern philosophies, modern religions . . . ?
    What then . . . is all the fuss about?



    Jane.


     
  5. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    I can see I'm gonna enjoy the contemplations that you elicit....

    again...namaste and welcome Jane...

    (as he sits and ponders)
     
  6. Jane-Q

    Jane-Q ...pain...

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    Hi, wil.

    "Law of Retribution" versus "forgiveness."

    You've seen this old movie:


    We are at an Opera House.
    One man waits for another at the bottom of the stairs.
    The man takes out his gloves, slaps the other man across the cheek.
    "I demand satisfaction."
    It ends in the foggy dawn.
    At ten paces, two dueling pistols firing.
    The smoke of flash-powder clears.
    One man lays dying, attended by a physician.

    Push the clock back to human hunter-gatherer origins.
    Anthropologists are pretty sure that the "need for payback" is innate in humans.
    For humans there is a natural "Law of Retribution."
    The emotional necessity to take violent retribution, when one's body has been wounded or one's honor has been offended (by an animal, by another human, or by a "spirit").

    Civilization, by contrast, asks its citizens to master their innate impulses. To treat "payback" as a simple debt.
    (An "eye for an eye," and not one titch more than that.)
    A contract. Based upon fairness.


    What is "forgiveness," then?

    Even into historical times, the time of the Bible, "debt" and "sin" are viewed as identical concepts.
    My NRSV Bible's version of the Lord's Prayer reads:


    . . . Give us this day our daily bread.
    And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.

    --Matthew 6:11-12.
    A "sin" is the weight of a civil "debt" upon you, regarding a fellow citizen. A transgression.
    This is how ancient "ethics" works.
    (Respect the other person's physical or moral property. Don't trespass!)

    "Forgiveness" is equated to the "forgiving of a debt."

    Where Victor may be completely off-base, wil, is placing all this "forgiveness" stuff on Jesus' head.
    Jesus is a righteous Jew, and probably grew up as a Pharisee.
    Jesus is just repeating ancient tradition here, by teaching his disciples this now-famous prayer. It is the very same tradition which the ancient Hebrew prophets, seven centuries earlier, hammered home. To forgive the debts of society's less fortunate individuals. This is what Jesus is tuned into.

    But this mandate "to forgive" predates the Hebrew prophets.
    Predates Moses, even.
    Hammurabi, the Semitic king of ancient Babylon 38 centuries ago, enforced a "sabbath year" (every seven years) and a "jubilee year" (every half-century). All debts (except foreign trade-debts) are forgiven. All debts throughout the citystate. All bond-servants are given their freedom. (Bond servants were citizens sold as semi-slaves in order to work-off their debts.)
    This ancient practice of civilization was picked up by Hebrew scribes, centuries later, and written front and center into the sacred Law (
    Leviticus 25). "Sabbath year" and "jubilee year."

    There is no historical evidence that this "sabbath year" or "jubilee year" was ever actually practiced by the ancient Israelites.
    But it is the "Law of Moses," right there in the scriptures.
    A mandate to forgive the trespasses of your neighbors. To forgive their "transgressing" upon "what is yours."
    To forgive sins. To forgive interpersonal "debts" (whether monetary or moral).
    It's right there in the Hebrew scriptures in black and white.

    "Forgiveness" is something "civilized people" are supposed to do.
    Period.
    Not just "Christians."
    (The concept and practice of "forgiveness" is not 2000 years old, as Victor assumes. Rather, it is at least 3800 years old, and is most probably far older. The citystate of Lagash in Sumer, 4400 years ago, probably practiced the forgiveness of debts as well.)

    Civilization recasts the primitive sense of justice, the "need for retribution," into a more civilized sense of justice. A "debt."
    a. A debt to be paid ("satisfied"). For the peace and good order of society. Or . . .
    b. A debt to be forgiven. Out of a deeper sense of justice, to society's less fortunate citizens.
    (This is also done for the peace and good order of society.)

    Many (like Victor?) tend to see "forgiveness" as foolishly altruistic.
    It's not. Since at least the time of Hammurabi, it has been a socially hardheaded practice.

    A way of seeing the bigger social picture, for the public good.
    A second way, a very effective way, of mastering primitive (retributive) emotions.



    Jane.

     
  7. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    I do not quite agree. Humankind is at the point where we know a lot more than they did either 3,000 or 5,000 years ago. Yes, perhaps a lot of it is technical. But some of it is not.

    The enlightenment of Europe rolled back the blindfold of myth ans said "go find out for yourself in the world" (IMHO, only the daoists, Jains, and Buddhists have ever said this... perhaps because they really have no g!d). In doing so the western world discovered republicanism and classic liberalism (if you read Smith and Ricardo and Mill), which arguably have done so much to help the well-being of the vast majority of humanity.

    Smith's The Theory of Moral Sentiments and Mill's On Liberty should convice one classic liberalism was not concerned with capitalism and the creation of wealth or exploitation. Between the two (and Locke and the other classic liberals) one will find (I beleive a totally original definition of personal ethics and religion).

    Sin has no place in their universe (nor really in Judaism itslef, where it merely indicates straying from the path). It is only when one adopts the precepts of liberalism (continuing progress, acceptance of people as people, irregardless of race, creed or color) does one finally reach a true cultural civilization. Before that, the cultural norm was kind of what Thomas points to it "means anything goes as long as it does not conflict with my personal (cultural) ideals". One does not rise above that (in general) as long as one practices a 3,000 or 5,000 year old western philosophy.
     
  8. Victor

    Victor Silver Haired Member

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    To all the Saints: Looks like everyone is having fun, and that is good. Just wanted to let you know that I finished the thesis on July 11th after eight months of work. 177 pages, 75,000 words and a lot of sleepless nights. It covers sin, contrition, repentance and forgiveness. But in the end I had to focus on the Genesis of Man and original sin and, for myself, it was an eye opener. It was hard enough to discover that in Torah, The Gospels, Qur'an, and the Vadas, there is no such thing as 'unconditional forgiveness', but when it came to the non-existant sin of Adam ('adam) it was a brain-buster! I'd love to get it published as it is the largest and the most important of the four, but even Amazon wants some VERY personal financial info, and that over the internet. I think not! Hope to join you in some banter in the near future... stay well!
    Victor G
     
  9. Jane-Q

    Jane-Q ...pain...

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    Hi, radarmark.

    Thank you for your comments.
    I am largely in agreement with your view of
    classical liberalism. It is one of the few ideologies I, myself, would enthusiastically admit ascribing to.
    So your initial comment . . .


    I do not quite agree.
    --radarmark

    This confuses me.

    Are you disagreeing, in this thread, with post #22 ("eye for an eye")?
    With post #24 ("fairness")?
    With post #26 ("forgiveness of debts")?

    If you look at the Law Codes from the ancient citystates/empires of Ur, of Babylon, of Assyria, right down to those of Rome . . . you will notice that the
    rights of all "citizens" are delineated. Sure, there were full citizens (males), with the full package of rights. But the rights of bond-servants are listed, and usually too the rights of slaves. Even the rights of women (in Assyrian law codes), regarding divorce or regarding inheritance from father or husband, are specifically delineated.

    All that Locke or Mill did was . . . to take the logic of these ancient
    rights, for a citizen of a citystate, and then flatten them out and universalize them.
    So that every person has the same package of rights as every other person does.
    And these rights are applicable for every human-being on the planet.

    These ancient citystates saw these law codes as enumerating "god-given rights." (Look at the invocation to the local "high god" at the beginning of each of these written law codes).
    Tell me. Were Locke and Mill averse to the phrase "God-given rights" when they talk about "the Rights of Man"?

    radarmark, the logic was already there, embedded in the social contract of early civilization. Classical Liberalism just pushed this logic to its natural conclusion.
    An heroic task, yes. But not a novel one.



    Jane.

     
  10. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    I do not agree with your thesis that sin = debt. Or that is predates The Church Fathers. Or that forgiveness = forgiving a debt. First, the Judeo-Hebrew sense of sin or khata is merely “to stray” as does het. Others words sometimes (probably incorrectly) translated as sin, like pesha (lit. “to trespass”) or aveira (“to transgress”) or avone (“to commit iniquity" or fail morally, either with g!d or man) in no way really relate to the Christian use of sin.

    In Judaism, g!d knows we will stray and welcome us back. There is no forgiveness of a debt involved. It is a little more complex than that—balancing between yetzer hatov and yetzer hara (good and evil inclinations).

    So sin is not debt. Nor is forgiveness forgiving a debt—rather it is a welcomed return. Nor can either, as used today, be tracked back to the axial age.

    Or, rather, as simply as you indicated by linking them to the OT. Probably the best we can do is say your thesis is partially (probably true). It is not as cut an dry as you seem to indicate.
     
  11. Jane-Q

    Jane-Q ...pain...

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    Hi, radarmark.

    I appreciate the linguistics lesson.

    But the ancient world
    really did interpret all things, consistently, in economic terms.
    Even bad behavior.

    Admittedly, Jewish Monotheism was a little different.
    "Prosperity" was not Number 1 on the agenda of true monotheists.
    Doing right by God . . . was!

    But you have to remember, that the Torah was not written last summer.
    You cannot make assumptions about ancient Jewish Monotheism from the vantage point of contemporary Judaism.

    Judaism proper, the faith of the Rabbis, did not begin till the Second or Third Century CE.
    But the Rabbis did not write the Torah.
    Priests, bards, and scribes wrote it, half-a-millennium earlier. Each person with their own agenda. And most of these agendas were, to varying degrees, in conflict with each other. Some authors were not monotheists. And there were many differing ideas floating around regarding what monotheism actually constituted.
    (Remember. By the time of the monarchy, Yahweh had become domesticated into a Temple deity.)

    Priests, in particular, were invested in the whole Temple system. Sacrifices were their meat and potatoes.
    And Temple priests hired scribes. Why?
    To write scripture? No. (Not at first.)
    To keep tally sheets. Who and how much. And who has not sacrificed in quite awhile.
    Debit and credit.
    Running a temple was a business, as mercenary as any other business.

    Even centuries later, this sickened an ardent Pharisee named James the Just. And his brother Jesus got himself killed trying to reform it.

    radarmark, I may be off base ascribing economic motives to questions of morality in ancient Jewish Monotheism. But there was no "morality" back then in the terms we understand it, today. Not anywhere in the ancient world. There was only "breaking a contract" (straying from a covenant).
    ([post=279224]As I explain elsewhere[/post] . . . before the Axial Age there were only holdover "tribal values" and the attempt to contain them via "public ethics.")


    Between humans: there is a contract, there is a "debt." And there is the eventual "satisfaction" of the debt or "forgiveness" of that debt.

    Between you and God (or between you and any temple deity): there is a contract, a sacred covenant. Break that contract and you need to make sacrifices at the temple to pay up, to get right with God.

    If I'm wrong about this regarding ancient Jewish Monotheism, please quote Torah. Not linguistics.


    Jane.

     
  12. Jane-Q

    Jane-Q ...pain...

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    Hi, radarmark.

    Though I have taken a different route, I have come halfway back toward your position:

    I do not agree with your thesis that sin = debt.

    But if you read Leviticus and the rest of the legalistic side of the Torah, not via First Century Pharisee and later rabbinic perspectives, but through the eyes of Hezekiah's priests (and the inheritors of this tradition, the Sadducees), I think you will see warrant to my position. Leviticus explicitly lays out the formulas for bartering with God. Formulas which are likely near-identical to those used in pagan temples across the Mesopotamian and Mediterranean world. This sacrifice pays for that service. A contract. A balancing of the scales.

    Where this "moral" barter-system breaks down, I am beginning to realize, is with the prophets. The prophets during Hezekiah's day, Amos and Isaiah and Micah and particularly Hosea, approached God very differently than do Hezekiah's priests . . . an alternative strain of thought which was later picked up by the Pharisees and, through them, on into rabbinic Judaism as it emerged in the Second or Third century CE.

    I detail this in the "Jesus as a Ritual Sacrifice" thread in two responses to Dream: [post=279349]post #75[/post] and [post=279354]post #78[/post]. And in-between, I embed a [post=279350]response to you[/post], which rightly should have appeared within this thread. My research actually began with your disagreement, and my rethinking of my own position.

    I'd value your input.


    Jane.

     
  13. Jane-Q

    Jane-Q ...pain...

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    To get back on topic . . .
    My view (contra that of Victor) is that the movement from severe notions of justice to ideas of forgiveness is a natural evolution. Not just a Christian development but one involving all of Monotheism.

    This movement forward is even reflected, linguistically, in close textual analysis of the ancient Hebrew:

    God's . . . passion for righteousness
    { צדקים . . . i.e. "tzedek" or "sedeq" or "tzadik" or justice}
    is so strong that he could not be more insistent in his demand for it,

    but God's persistent love
    { חֶסֶד . . . i.e. "chesed" or "hesed" or mercy or committed love}
    for his people is more insistent still.


    --N.H. Snaith. A Theological Word Book of the Bible (1951), edited by Alan Richardson, p136-137.​

    "Mercy," ever so slightly, trumps "justice" in ancient times.
    In Roman times, after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, it is not solely Christians who postulate the supremacy of mercy:

    The Torah begins with chesed and ends with chesed.
    --Rabbi Simlai, Talmud.​

    And centuries later, the Quran insistently reiterates:

    In the name of Allah, the merciful, the compassionate . . .

    Mercy, and its actualization in forgiveness, is not a Christian idea, but a modern idea. Period.

    I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.
    --Abraham Lincoln, from an 1865 speech in Washington D.C.​


    Jane.

     
  14. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    Jane,

    No, I believe that to be a narrow view of what you think is the opinion of Hezekiah's priests. I happen to believe that the only way into the beliefs of a tradition is within the tradition (in this case Rabbinic or Beta Israel or Samaritan traditions). None of these really agree with your view.

    That is not to say that you are wrong. No, merely that there are others ways to look at it. And that I believe the other ways are probably more likely.

    The chance of one person having the “right” understanding of sin is as unlikely as Einstein being “totally right” (physicists are pretty doggone sure he was not, though it is still possible).

    Besides, the idea of forgiveness is as much a value to non-monotheistic religions (see Jainism and Buddhism, both somewhat older than Christianity) as it is to monotheistic ones. And had as much impact in 600 or 500 BCE as today among certain groups.

    Again, it is possible you are correct. I just do not think it probable.
     
  15. Jane-Q

    Jane-Q ...pain...

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    radarmark. Hi.

    The only way into the beliefs of a tradition is within the tradition.

    I know it doesn't seem like it, to you, from the way I state my arguments . . .
    But I've been there, done that.

    Someday, looking at traditions from inside their own logic and within their own emotional wellsprings, may become as unsatisfying to you as this process has become for me.

    Ritual traditions tend to whitewash any serious conflicts within that tradition, in order to emotionally accommodate and incorporate these contradictions within the emerging theology. To see these conflicts with any clarity, you have to step "outside the tradition." No other option.

    It is for this reason I have just begun to read the writings of three Jewish scholars who have written about Jesus and early Christianity. Even the best Christian scholar is frequently too invested in the tradition's "intuitions about itself" to see the obvious which is right in front of his or her eyes.
    A couple days ago, I read the following in Geza Vermes' book on the "charismatic" side of Jewish Monotheism. This side is represented by the "prophets" of Hezekiah's century, the 700s BCE. (Walking in these same "charismatic" shoes, according to Vermes, was Jesus of Nazareth in the First century CE):

    Conflict between prophets and priests was endemic. Amaziah ordered Amos out of the royal sanctuary at Bethel (Am. 7:10-13) and the clash between prophets and Temple personnel on the subject of sacrificial worship is apparent in the citations from Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, and Micah, and in the famous speech of Jeremiah against the sanctuary in Jerusalem (Jer. 7:1-14). In the first century BC Honi was stoned to death for not supporting either of the two competing high priests.
    --Christian Beginnings, p26.​

    (Amos 5:21-24. Hosea 6:6. Isaiah 1:11-17. Micah 6:6-8. Honi was a charismatic prophet.)

    radarmark.
    The Temple and its priests were a thing of the past when Rabbinic Judaism began its rethink of Jewish Monotheism. Beta Israel's actual origins are obscure (and perhaps 100% legendary). And Samaritan traditions did not begin till after Hezekiah's time, and tended to favor traditions stemming from the Northern Kingdom, not the monotheistic mainstream which evolved from the Southern Kingdom's Babylonian sojourn. Each of these "Judaic" traditions have "histories" which are twisted by differing historical circumstances, and will theologically and emotionally sport different "memories" alongside their attendant religious agendas.
    And each of them did continue to evolve, and evolve some more, as new social and historical challenges emerged.

    I would also note:
    "Compassion" in Jainism and Buddhism has an entirely different evolution of emergence within the Indian religious traditions, compared to similar concepts within Monotheism. Today, this concept might mean pretty much the same thing as "mercy" in the various Monotheistic traditions, but 2000+ years ago it certainly did not! Fact is, there is little hard evidence about what Jainism and Buddhism in their first manifestations were actually like. We mostly have the (poor) evidence from the Fourth or Fifth century CE, based upon the tradition's own lore. There is miniscule independent evidence on the subject.
    What a tradition remembers about itself is always extremely selective. Probably a grain of truth about things that happened eight centuries earlier. But probably not much more than a grain.
    The Jainism and the Buddhism you are talking about, had already undergone a considerable evolution to get to that point. And I suspect that, during the earliest days of these traditions, their concepts of "compassion" were highly disputed issues of contention (e.g. over and against something like the Brahmins' meritorious notion of "dharma," perhaps) . . . to the same degree of disputedness that "mercy" had been (vis-à-vis priestly "justice") during the supposed "halcyon days" of Monotheism.

    You keep talking about "probability," radarmark.
    I think a degree of conflict in the hammering out of a tradition is square-on probable!

    (And, also probable: that the key concepts have undergone a considerable evolution. The concepts you find pleasing within Jainism and Buddhism are not the same exact concepts as they were when they first emerged 2.5 millennia ago. Probably not even close! The underlying sociohistorical context has changed too much.)


    Jane.

     
  16. Dream

    Dream New Member

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    My own response to your post, Victor, is that I don't think Christianity is against self-defense except under certain conditions. You make some true observations about how Christianity can wrongly place all the burden upon the afflicted, and this has happened to one of our own members here at interfaith.org. I think that is a result of evil and of people making very bad decisions, but I think the Christian message overall is one of endurance and testimony rather than of self-blame.

    To Christianity, forgiveness and patience is the only way to end many kinds of recurring aggression. Additionally if your goal is to save the sinner from their stupid ways (rather than to destroy the sinner along with their sins), then you must endure the barrage of their accusations until they realize you are correct. This is how I interpret I Peter's explanation of both Jesus death on the cross and his instruction for Christians. That is the big picture.
    I think no, no, and yes. :) Forgive my quaint personal interpretation: The totality of his teachings were never given, probably. One of his themes was that the Holy Spirit would follow his departure and lead Christians into all truth, so I think that Christianity was given a destination of spiritual perfection much the way that Israel was called out of Egypt to go into a very fertile land. It was not given 'All Truth' to begin with. In Christian terms the evils that have happened in the past are not due to corruption in the Church but are due to the evil of the Church from its beginning plus immaturity. It was hoped that the Church would be purified over time, getting better & better. In a way it has, but obviously it continues to need more purifying and perfecting. Some people think the institutional structures need to go. Some people think they should just be reformed.
     
  17. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    This I find the core of your post. Been there and read Vermes, good source. One must also look at Hempel, Hendel and Lüdemann (and so many others).

    Ashoka and the vast material from his era pretty much make your criticism of Jainism and Buddhism mute. We have tons of material which verify the ethics and teachings of both (especially the social and animal-rights beliefs). I would double-check my sources on this. The first to Sixth Buddhist councils are verified in non-religious texts. See Jaini and Sangrave for a good early history of Jainism. I think what you are speaking of are the 14 saying of the earlier Tirthankaras; hint this are probably as mythological as the existence of them back into the Indus Valley Civilization or 9,000 years ago. Possible, not likely. Bottom line. There is not eight centuries of history missing (as you appear to claim).

    Yes, there were conflicts hammering out a tradition (for instance the Gnostics and Manicheans, let alone what was probably the early Jewish Church. Only a fool would think otherwise.

    Ditto for thinking what we now “see” as the public face of any religious group is what it was in the beginning.

    Yes, the social and cultural edifices surrounding religion evolve. But that does not prove the central experience has.

    What I am saying is that mystical or spiritual core of a group one must begin from within that group and not depend on social science. Social science, history, and archeology can tell us lots of things about the public face and to some extent the private face of religion. But in the end the experience of the D!vine is not public or private, but individual.

    We can take the things we learn to test our experience. Hopefully we can throw out the things that just do not make sense in terms of intersubjective or empirical validation.

    But mainly we have to give up the idea of “absolute truth” from anywhere.
     
  18. Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep New Member

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    There is a lot in the Christian faith more than I dare say 50% about how perpetrators of injustice even for just calling a brother fool will suffer the fire of hell forever and ever, where there will be the gnashing of teeth -- for toothless guys entering hell, teeth will be provided.

    So, your thesis is busted.



    Susma
     
  19. Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep New Member

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    This thesis should have been more restricted in its scope: the author neglected to see it in respect of the delay in the infliction of pain on the offender, while his victim immediately suffers the offender's unjust act and continues on and on in time to suffer, as long as the offender is not yet commensurately punished for his unjust deed.

    So, the title of the thesis should be:

    Why no swift even immediate justice from the Christian God?



    Susma
     
  20. Jane-Q

    Jane-Q ...pain...

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    Hi, radarmark.

    Mainly we have to give up the idea of “absolute truth” from anywhere.

    Ditto, that!

    Been a couple decades since I last looked into Buddhist history.
    And, today (big surprise), I am a lot more skeptical than I was then.

    Do you know a good, recent critical source, which discusses what is actually known and what is not known about early Buddhism? (With Jainism, you already mentioned Jaini & Sangrave.)
    I'd appreciate it.

    The Ashoka material is pretty much just "The Edicts," right?
    Or am I missing something?
    The "Edicts of Ashoka" always struck me as administrative documents, part self-promotion, part an attempt to unify his empire. Tolerance for all religions. Fatherly concern for his "people." But Buddhism seems to serve to reinforce and strengthen his hold on a vast and unwieldy empire in the same way that Constantine used Christianity. Religious ideas were politically useful unifiers, regardless of how genuine the ruler's new-found piety might actually be.

    Constantine, and later Christian rulers of Rome like Justinian, began the process of popularizing Christianity. Thus simplifying it and "dumbing it down." At the same time, with Nicaea, doctrinally narrowing down earlier Christian beliefs (heresy-proofing the faith).
    I can't help feeling that Ashoka did his own "dumbing down" and "heresy-proofing" of Buddhism.

    What if the earliest documents we have on Christianity started with the Nicene Creed? . . . i.e., no St. Paul, no Gospels. What would Christianity look like, if documentary evidence started three centuries after Jesus lived?

    The First to Sixth Buddhist councils are verified in non-religious texts.

    Where?
    Are these reports contemporary with each of the councils? Or just contemporary with the later "councils"?
    And does this evidence report just that these councils existed? Or is there some solid information in these reports?

    (What I am looking for is some real historical context. The historical situation in which Gautama lived, and the likely somewhat different social-historical context out of which early Buddhism emerged. I need Buddhism to feel real to me. Not fairytale.)

    Ashoka ruled most of the Indian subcontinent from 269 to 232 BCE. Siddhartha Gautama lived two or three centuries earlier (his dates are uncertain, last time I checked).
    The Pali texts were not written down till a century or two after Ashoka's dates, and the Sanskrit versions not for another couple centuries. And these were transcriptions of oral folk-memories (anecdotal stories and supposed sayings) which provide only the most limited "reliability" for scholars.
    (Folklore has a self-editing tendency, saving only the bits that are easy to communicate, that listeners "get." A pretty picture with all the grit of real-life scrubbed away. When I read such writings, these days, I keep getting the whiff of detergent in my nostrils.)

    Unless you are aware of older documents, the organic ("all natural, chemical free") version of Buddhism is beyond our reach. The next best thing is a good solid scholarly study, which (yes, "from the outside") will shower "the sacred" with (real-life) grit.

    So, again, radarmark . . . If you know any gritty readings about Buddhism, I would appreciate the heads-up?
    Thanks.


    Jane.

     

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