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How 'biased' do you think the Biblical writers were?

#1KingKnivesPosted 6/23/2011 2:56:51 PM
I read an interesting and provocative passage in a book recently (one generally about taking an archaeological perspective to uncovering ancient Biblical folk religion) and wanted to know this board's thoughts on it. Obviously he believes folk religion is quite different than the religion portrayed in the Hebrew Bible. Is the following a fair assessment in your view? Too extreme? Too denialist? Doesn't go far enough? Etc.

A striking example of the chauvinist nationalism of the Deuteronomistic
school, their obliviousness to the rest of the country, is seen in their
coverage of the famous siege of Sennacherib in 701 B.c. The fall of the fortress
of Lachish, just 80 miles southwest of Jerusalem, was considered so
significant by the Assyrian king that he commissioned artists to execute
huge stone reliefs showing the siege and destruction of Lachish. He displayed
them back home around the walls of one of the principal rooms of
his palace for all to see. (They are now in the British Museum.) Yet the editors
of Kings mention Lachish only twice (II Kings 18:14, U)> noting merely
that Sennacherib was there. Then they give almost two chapters to an extraordinarily
detailed account of the siege of Jerusalem (II Kings 18:13-
19:37). Why? Because the siege of Jerusalem was miraculously lifted, and
the Temple of Yahweh was spared. But Lachish, which was totally destroyed
and its population slaughtered (as the excavations make
horrifyingly clear), was of no concern to the biblical writers. Their cavalier
attitude in this case is but one example of their selectivity, the result of
their political and theological biases. Theirs is obviously not a "disinterested,"
fair, and balanced history of Israel and its religions.

The perspective of all the biblical writers is a factor that limits their
usefulness in another regard. It is no exaggeration to say that all the biblical
literature especially the historical and prophetic works constitutes
what is essentially "propaganda." The writers make no pretense to objectivity.
They are openly partisan, championing the cause of extreme nationalism
and orthodox Yahwism, that is, the Truth as they see it. They have no tolerance
for divergent views, not even when they are held by kings, all of whom
they despise except for the "good" reformist kings Hezekiah and Josiah.
These extremists were, of course, minority parties given the historical reality
in 8th-7th century Israel. But it is they who wrote the Hebrew Bible.

That observation leads me to a final point, of critical importance
in looking to the Hebrew Bible for a picture of Israelite religions. The Bible's
portrait throughout is an "idealistic" one not a picture of Israelite
religion as it was at all, but a picture of what it should have been, and would
have been if these zealots had actually been in charge. Ironically, the very
condemnation of "folk religion" by the editors is what reveals many of the
very characteristics that I shall document here. In trying to suppress popular
cults, they inadvertently confirm their existence.

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Gentlemen. I do not like war. On highways. In trenches. On plains. In desert. On sea. In sky.
I do not like any aspect of war that takes place on this earth.
#2Imperator420Posted 6/23/2011 3:07:29 PM
Extremely.
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I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast ... for it repenteth me that I have made them. - Genesis 7
#3bsballa09Posted 6/23/2011 3:21:46 PM(edited)
I don't see how only mentioning a fortress twice while mentioning the defense of the holiest and most important capital city in the country much more is being "biased". The wiping out of whole towns and sending the rest into slavery was the common thing to do back then. They mention it enough to let people know. They didn't have to speak of it more.

The only thing that is biased, is the author of that passage.
#4Hustle KongPosted 6/23/2011 3:36:12 PM
I would expect the authors of any particular religious text to be biased. In a study of a religion, I'd prefer impartiality. But is seems strange to think the proponents of ANY religion would be unbiased.
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Shooting Game never die.
It prays that the clover of luck be always in your mind.
#5bsballa09Posted 6/23/2011 3:56:18 PM
I also don't think the author understands what "extreme nationalism" is. If he did, he wouldn't call the biblical authors "extreme nationalists". If they were, they would emphasise on the slaughter of the people in the fortress and use that to rally up all the people.
#6CIA911Posted 6/23/2011 4:24:10 PM
Biblical writers being...God ? Not very biased.
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And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?
#7DagorhaPosted 6/23/2011 5:12:19 PM
CIA911 posted...
Biblical writers being...God ? Not very biased.

How incredibly presumptuous this post is.
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You don't get a gold star for being less bloody stupid than another bloody stupid person when you are still demonstrably bloody stupid. -the final bahamut
#8Enforcer Of The WordPosted 6/23/2011 10:59:45 PM
Biased to the point that they believed what they were writing, sure, if that's a bias, I think it's a normal one. I am sure those that have wrote other religious texts held similar positions.
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#9DbzmaniaxPosted 6/24/2011 2:30:52 AM
From what I understand from the Documentary Hypothesis, it seems somewhat (i.e. very) likely that the writer(s) of the different strands of the Bible were quite biased and coloured their narratives in support of views they held (i.e. the issue regarding where sacrifices could occur and the priesthood of the descendants of Moses and Aaron).
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Islam began as something strange and will revert to being strange as it began, so give glad tidings to the strangers. - Muhammad salalahu alayhi wasalam
#10shockwavepulsarjimPosted 6/24/2011 2:47:44 AM
Lots of criminals actually don't believe they have committed any crime: they rationalize it somehow within their own minds, to the point that they either genuinely don't believe they have done it, or they tell themselves that what they dead was justified so not a crime. And they pass lie detector tests.

Probably biased to that degree: i.e. they actually believed what they were writing
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bibere humanum est, ergo bibamus