Introduction to the Hebrew Scripture Why Read the Bible? The canon known as the Bible literally means “the books” What does the canon mean? It is the ecclesiastical rule (law) approved by the Church What is Your Idea of the Bible? What does it mean to say the Bible is the “Word of God”? How did the Bible come about? How was it passed down from generation to generation? What is its message and meaning for us today? What is the Bible? The Bible is a sharing of a peoples faith– a record of a nation’s belief in God. It is the historical reality of God’s relationship with his people. These people believed God really did intervene in human history and that he really does care about creation. And the roots of our Christian faith are found in the Hebrew Scriptures. The Bible then, was written as a book of “Religious Truth.” That is, it was not that other truths were not important, they were simply not AS important. The ancient Hebrews understood God only as a God who was involved in his creation– and the very cause of everything that happened. We are the first in human history to see our planet in this light. We look for a more scientific “cause and effect. They saw only God as the cause of what happened and the effect of outcome Their view of the world around them was much different from ours in that it was much simpler. How is our world different today than in the time of the ancient Hebrews? The Bible Must be Read in its Proper Context The culture, politics, and religion were much different from our own. The historical context was far different from that of today. The authors of the Bible were writing to the people of their own time—its quite unlikely that they ever had us in mind. So the better we understand their culture and their world, the more likely we are to understand what they were trying to say. Have you ever tried to read the Hebrew Scripture? All at once or small bits at a time? Did you fine it difficult? If so, what were some of the problems experienced? The Bible is not an ordinary book. It must be read slowly, prayerfully, studiously, and reflectively. The Hebrew Scripture The Bible you own today came to you in its complete form. But there was much involved in its history and its formation. How Did The Bible Get Here? Remember the Hebrews believed that they had experienced God and his saving presence in their lives-and they wanted their descendents to understand and appreciate this. How was this information learned and passed down from one generation to the next in this ancient culture? By word of mouth. –i.e. ORAL TRADITION As time passed, certain details in stories changed., added, or even lost, but the basic message of the story was still there. Eventually, these fragments were written down on sheets of goat/sheep skin called parchment as a collection of stories. Home Work Assignment Write a story of a tradition of your family passed down but not written down. Ask your parents and grandparents about your family history. How far back can you trace your family story on the basis of the spoken word (oral tradition). What can you conclude about oral tradition in our society? Oral Tradition Oral tradition is still used today in some societies. Many people in the Central Pacific (Caroline Islands and the Gilberts) navigate the open seas using techniques passed down from generations by word of mouth. Songs were composed using the elements of their navigation system. By chanting these songs as they voyaged, they would know which stars to observe and follow. Recently, ancient routes were retraced using only the ancient oral tradition of navigation. The results? They were amazingly accurate-even by today's standards. This experiment suggests the likelihood that much of the oral tradition behind the stories in the Bible are accurate as well. What Are the Benefits / Risks of Oral Tradition Benefits: Commit to memory-it’s not forgotten Will have the knowledge even if illiterate Risks: Knowledge can get changed / distorted over time It’s lost if not passed down Writing Down the Oral Traditions It was about the time if king David that the first written documents were produced. Later the PROPHETS and SAGES wrote down their works. Gradually, the various written accounts (stories) were collected and put into a chronology over the years and edited. And the Bible as we know it was born. “Editing” is the putting order into the accounts. These three stages of development – Oral, Written, and Edited – have no definitive times lines between them. At times, all three were going on simultaneously throughout the ancient world. Will the Real Bible Please Stand Up! Are the Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish Bible the same? What are the differences? The Catholic Bible contains the deuterocanonical books Why is there a difference? Home Work assignment Compare the Hebrew Scripture of the Protestant Bible and Catholic Bible. List the differences in the two. What type of Bible do you have at home? At school? Why the Difference? The Bible was first written in the language of the people who believed that they had experienced God; that is, Hebrew. Translations soon followed into Greek (Septuagint) and Latin (Vulgate) The translation used during the time of Jesus Christ was the Septuagint. What happens between C.E.67 and 70? In C.E.90 Jewish leaders meet in Jamnia Israel to decide their fate after the fall of Jerusalem. They begin to consider which books to accept into their cannon of Scripture. The Jews decide over a period of time to include the lesser # of books. The Christians had already begun to form their own cannon by this time-based primarily upon the traditional acceptance of the Septuagint which was the accepted cannon during the historical period of Jesus’ life. The Deuterocanonical Books The additional books included in the Catholic Bible are called deuterocannonical books. Does the Protestant Bible have the same # of books as the Catholic Bible or the Jewish Scripture? Why do you think that is? The Protestant Bible After the Protestant Reformation the Protestant groups went back to the decision made by the Jews at Jamnia with regard to which books would be in the Hebrew Scripture and which would not. The Protestants followed the Jewish Canon. (39 Books) The Catholic Church retained the longer canon which predated the decisions at Jamnia. (46 Books) Imagine all the texts and versions of the Bible available in all the languages of the world Does this demonstrate the generally accepted importance of the Bible as the word of God? The Bible and Faith The Bible is a book of faith. Faith is not quite the same as knowledge. What’s the difference between faith and knowledge? Knowledge is what we learn, either by ourselves or from others. It comes from our senses-sight, hear, touch, taste, smell. We know b/c we experience it. Experience is important. How do we know ice is cold? How do we know the sky is blue? We know b/c we can perceive How do we go about finding out information that cannot be experienced by observation? Or questions that cannot be answered by using only the data gathered by our senses b/c no physical data is to be had in the areas? What are Some of the Questions? Why am I here? What is my purpose in life? Where do I go when I leave here? What happens to me when I die? It is here that faith enters If knowledge is based upon information gathered from the senses, faith is belief in something based upon the word of someone else. Put simply, we believe b/c someone of trust told us so. Much of life is based on some type of trust (belief) We trust others –even unconscious trust- in many ways. Give some examples of how we do this daily. Crossing a busy street, or driving through an intersection. Architects and contractors ability to make sturdy structures Doctors,- the medical field in general Belief = Acceptance Belief does not always imply total acceptance of a statement. Often it is the idea itself which is believed rather than the specific language used to express it. When reading the Bible we must get behind the language to the idea it conveys. Conscious exaggeration Many of us make “conscious exaggeration” statements in our daily speech What are some you hear every day? I ALWAYS have homework I NEVER get to go. EVERYBODY has one. He’s as BIG as a house He’s as STRONG as an ox Always Look for the Message These type of statements aren’t concerned so much about the words- the interest is in getting the message across. The exaggeration is used to make a point. So when reading, we shouldn’t get so distracted by unusual descriptions or details in the text that we forget the religious message the writer meant to convey. We have to remember that we’re not reading the Bible as a historical narrative of ancient times. Rather we are looking for the religious message that it contains. The message that is often hidden in the prose (text/style) Biblical Inspiration and Inerrancy We believe the claim that the Bible is the word of God. But what exactly does that mean??? There are two generally accepted characteristics the Scriptures contain: INSPIRATION and INERRANCY. Biblical Inspiration Did God have an angel whisper words into the ear of the writers and tell them what they should write down? NO! That would be note taking Inspiration in its proper sense is a “religious mystery.” It’s something we believe, even though it cannot be fully explained. Faith would be impossible without religious mystery. If every element of faith could be explained, we would “know” everything. Religion would simply be reduced to an intellectual exercise. God utilized the author to get the religious message across to the people, and the message probably had far more important meaning than the one the author wrote consciously. Biblical inspiration is basically a matter of God getting a message across to people in terms they can understand. One of the proofs of God’s love for us is that he communicates with us in a way that is intelligible to us. Biblical Inerrancy All the books of the Bible are inspired, but that doesn’t mean that the Bible contains no mistakes. We can search the Scriptures and find statements that are historically inaccurate - or that modern science would contradict. As long as we are dealing with humans, we’re dealing with the possibility of mistakes. When we say the Bible has no mistakes, we are talking about inerrancy. Inerrancy refers to the fact that there are no mistakes in religious truth that God wants to reveal to us. The Bible is a book of religious belief, and it must be taken as such. In that sense, it contains no mistakes. The Approaches to the Bible way that we approach the Bible will very much determine the way we will read it – and thus, the degree to which we understand it. There are three approaches to the Bible we are going to discuss: 1. The Fundamental Approach 2. The Scientific Approach 2. The Critical Approach Do you know which approach you use? Fundamental Approach The fundamental approach is a literal interpretation of the Bible text. Those who adhere to this view insist on taking every phrase, description, and text of the Bible literally; that is word for word as they appear in the text. Can you see any dilemmas that might arise using this approach? The historical and cultural context is different. The changes in language is also very important. Language in ancient times was not as developed. Words had multiple meanings and the meaning of certain words have developed and changed over time; languages change. Remember, the IDEA to be communicated is more important than the words chosen to express it Scientific Approach This isn’t really an approach to study scripture at all; it’s an approach to one’s view of life and environment. The scientific approach would say – whenever science and the Bible contradict one another, preference is to be given to the scientific explanation Do you see any problems with this approach? The problem here is that an investigation of the meaning of the scriptural passage in question is completely ignored. Besides, discarding the biblical view in favor of the scientific approach may eliminate some of the biblical problems, but it does nothing to solve them. Critical Approach This approach attempts to take the Bible on its own terms instead of ours. This approach tries to get behind the written word This method takes into account the importance of the policies, culture, and circumstances surrounding the biblical account. Those using this approach try to discern the many oral traditions that predate the written account, and how various traditions were woven together and edited into the biblical story. This approach tries to determine what the biblical authors were saying to the people of their own time. If we find out what that message was, we will have a better chance of understanding how that message applies to our own situation today. Which one of these three methods does the Catholic Church endorse? The Critical Approach Do you have a better idea of your approach to the Bible now? A Historical Sketch of Ancient Israel The history and religion of the Israelites begin with Abraham. He was a nomad, (wandering herdsman) living in the region of Iraq around 1850 B.C.E. God makes a covenant with Abraham to give his descendents the land of Canaan. This covenant is inherited through his son Isaac and grandson Jacob and their wives. These are the patriarchs (head/father of a tribe) and matriarchs of the Jewish faith (The fathers and mothers - founders) What is a Covenant? Is a covenant and a contract the same thing? NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!! A contract is based on a legal obligation. A covenant is based on love. It has two sides: if it was offered in love, it was to be responded to with love. Three Parts to God’s Covenant The first part of the covenant specified that Abraham would be the father of a nation. The second part promised to give the land of Canaan to the descendants of Abraham. What was the promise that Abraham and his descendents were to keep to God? The descendents of Abraham would reveal the one God to the world. Who or what did people worship if it wasn’t the God we know today? The third part of God’s promise is the story of the New Testament The descendents of Abraham travel to Egypt to avoid famine and are eventually enslaved by the Egyptians for 400+ years 1700-1250 B.C.E. Moses in Exodus About 1250 B.C.E. God reveals to Moses his name: Yahweh – “I am the one who is always present.” Moses then leads the Israelites out of the bondage of the Egyptians Moses then encounters God on Mount Sinai What happens there? Moses is given the 10 Commandments. The covenant made was: God would make the Israelites the “people of God.” God would be with them as long as they kept the covenant. The Israelites part of the covenant was to keep God’s commandments David Becomes King They wander in the desert 40 years. Led by Joshua, the Israelites enter Canaan and for the next 2 centuries fight against the people living in the region. They abandon their nomadic ways. Around 1000B.C.E. David becomes king The First Temple Solomon, the son of David, builds the Temple in Jerusalem. It becomes the principal place of worship for the Jewish nation. It becomes both a political and religious capital Two Nations Solomon dies the nation is divided into two kingdoms: Israel in the north and Judah in the south. The Assyrians take over Israel in 722 B.C.E. and the Babylonians destroy Judah in 587 B.C.E. Not Holding up Their End Of the Bargain The Israelite people were forced into service and forced to pay heavy taxes. Kings often practiced idolatry Prophets spoke against both kingdom’s injustices but most of the time to no avail. The Assyrians crush the northern kingdom in 721 B.C.E. and took its people into exile In 521 B.C.E. the Babylonians destroy Judah (and Jerusalem) and take its people to Babylonia as captives. Diaspora The Israelites are exiled to Babylon for 50 years and then allowed to return to the land of Judah which had now become a district within the Persian Empire. Upon their return, they were to become known as Jews – taken from the word Judah The Temple and the city of Jerusalem was rebuilt and once again became the religious capital of the Jews. Diaspora refers to the dispersion (exile) of the Jewish people after they were conquered. The Jewish leaders begin collecting and reflecting on their ancestral writings in Hebrew and by about 400 B.C.E. the major books of what would become the Hebrew Scriptures were completed. The 400 B.C.E. to Christ The Persian empire is conquered by the Greeks in 330 B.C.E. and the Greeks seize control of Jerusalem. The Romans capture Jerusalem from the Greeks in 63 B.C.E. The Romans were tolerant of other cultures and religions but severely punished its subjects for revolts. It was a dark time for the Jewish people. They longed to be released from oppression. Many Jews looked for the coming of the messiah, one sent by God to save them. Many expected this messiah to be from the family line of David. Jesus the Savior During a time of darkness and defeat for the people of Israel, Jesus is born; one of the house of David. Christians see Jesus as the fulfillment of all of God’s promises to Israel and the savior of the world. The Romans destroy the Temple for good during the Jewish revolt in 70 C.E. The surviving Jews were once again forced to leave their land and dispersed to Africa, Asia, and Europe. The Diaspora stressed the need for an official set of scriptures to guide Jewish religious life. Why would this be so important to the Jews? To maintain a sense of identity as a people set apart and bound by the covenant with God A sense of connectedness to their ancestors who had been dispersed from Babylon generations earlier The Types of writings in the Hebrew Scriptures There are stories, legends, letters, biographies, poems speeches, laws, prayers, and proverbs in the scriptures. All of these writings have been assembled into the following sections: Pentateuch Historical Books Wisdom Books Prophetic Books Pentateuch These five books are the primary scriptural authority in the Jewish faith Historical Books These books tell of Israel’s conquest in the land of Canaan and the break up of the nation of Israel. Wisdom Books These books consist of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Wisdom, Sirach, Song of Songs Prophetic Books This book tells about the men who loved Israel and warned it that to depart from fidelity to God would lead to moral blindness and destruction as a nation.