Originally posted by Al Davison
OK, I don't want you to think that I'm arguing against your main point - I'm not.
I'm seeking to understand the "stories behind the stories". However, I would be less than truthful if I didn't admit some delight in learning how
to refute those who want to use their bible as a cudgel by claiming everything in it to be literally true - that's my sin and I'll deal with it.
Couple of points about your last post that I believe to be in error:
1) although Jesus was considered a rabbi by his followers, I do not believe he would have too many privileges in this Temple. I feel certain he
would not have been welcomed because his feelings about the Temple leadership were fairly well-known considering the groups with which he associated
(i.e. Nazorites, Essennes, and other Zealot off-shoots). These groups had as one of their main purposes, to "clean up" Judaism and the Temple's
relationship with Rome. Additionally, Jesus had made himself pretty unpopular with mainstream Judaism at that time because of his preaching that the
laws of kashrut need not be followed. There are other examples but, he was considered pretty radical and more than a little dangerous to the Jewish
leadership at the time. There are some who want to paint a pretty picture of Jesus as some sort of "guest lecturer" in the Temple - the only way
they wanted him as their guest was to invite him over to see their old pal Pontius Pilate.
The Barrabas part of that story is equally unlikely to have happened that way. To begin with, the tradition that some "criminal" was to be chosen
for a pardon is in no way supported by historical accounts of the treatment of Roman procurate (what would be the plural of this?) - particularly not
one as cruel, oppressive, and corrupt as Pilate. I've not been able to really figure this one out - why even include this in the story? There is
also considerable speculation regarding whether that name was correctly recorded and subsequently correctly translated. It is equally likely that it
meant "son of a rabbi" as in Bar Rebbi
OK, like I said, these are details and your point about the poetry and allegory is still quite valid. Even if I can't understand the allegory of
the Barabbas thing.
(Spelling error edited - probably didn't catch them all)
[edit on 14-3-2005 by Al Davison]
You are quite right, I think, to object to those that use the Bible as a cudgel. They've never heard that "blessed are the peacemakers". My big
problem with the fundementalists is that the reduce the Bible to a list of rules, or even an instruction manual. God's handy little "How To" guide.
The Bible takes a good deal of reading between the lines.
I didn't even began to get he bible untill I read a couple oof books by Canadian SCholar and literay critic Northrop Frye, "Words With Power", and
"The Great Code". The title great code comes from a quote by WIlliam Blake, "The Bible is the Great Code of western art". Sometimea fter that the
pieces began falling into place.
The Indian Epic Poet Vyasa, author of "The Mahabharata", described his work as 'the poetical history of mankind'. Isn't the Bible also? If the
Bible is a poem, then it's structure, and arrangement, is much more important than the details. People waste much time trying to figure out whether
such and such Biblical character was a historical person. They feel that would 'prove' the Bible literally true. It would also give them the great
satisfaction of waving it in everyone's face and saying "there, you see! We were right!"
To me the Bible transcends mere fact. To get lost in the facts is like missing the forrest for the trees. There is such a thing as getting the facts
straight and missing the point. This, in my opinion, is the trouble with many 'Bible thumpers'.
In fact God gave us brains, and intended that we should use them. This may be the idea behind the Genesis 'Garden of Eden' story. God said, "don't
eat that apple", and then winked and turned his back. In the Garden man was merely innocent, and there is a difference between innocence and holiness
( I assume).
NOw Jesus himself always taught in parables. Whether or not there actually was a "Good Samaritan", doesn't change anything. If somebody had
objected to the parables by saying, "Well who is this samaritan guy, so I can go get his side of it.", and Jesus repsonded by saying, "well it's a
figure of speech, you know, to help illustrate something.", I think we'd know that the principle was no less true.
That's how I feel about the money lenders in the temple. Who doesn't get a bad feeling when some one tries top cash in on religion? Psychoanalist
William Reich, founder of Orgone Therapy, used the phrase "truth vendors. Truth can even be used as a weapon. There are many dishonest ways of
handling the truth. As W Blake said, "The truth, told with bad intent, beats every lie you can invent". IM my experince, it has a strange way of
The moneylenders had no true religious spirit, and tried to cash in on the devotees. That was the asme thing that happened back in the 80's, with the
TV evangelists, like Jimmy Swaggart, and the Bakers. Remember Tammy Faye's air conditioned dog house. She was on her way to an Imelda Marcos level of
They got their come uppance, too. Many people felt that was due them. So I think that the general principle that money lenders in the temple turn
God's House from a house of prayer, into a den of thieves does hold true.