More on Random Bible Readings

[For the past few weeks this site has included posts from my new blog, Did God Really Say THAT!? A Blog about the Bible. Here’s the latest entry, slightly modified, plus an additional comment. Because I’m going to be extremely busy this spring, this will be the last entry on the Bible blog for a while. I’ll continue to post on Theists & Atheists: Communication & Common Ground.]

In my previous posting I reported an experiment in which I opened the Old Testament at random five times and glanced through the text of the two facing pages before me. It turned out to be very easy to find verses that did not seem divinely inspired. I could imagine a loving deity shuddering at the thought that these passages are part of a book that people read for divine guidance.

Example: Execute anyone who has the wrong theology, which is commanded in II Chronicles 15:13.

Now let’s try the flip side of this experiment. Read five randomly-selected two-page segments from the Old Testament, looking for statements that do sound divinely inspired, or that at least express keen insights.

Here’s what I found when I tried this, and I realize that “your results your vary.”

The pages I picked at random began with Leviticus 8:31, Judges 20:44, II Chronicles 15:7, Proverbs 8:35, and Jeremiah 39:4. Out of the five two-page segments that began with these verses, I found uplifting material only in Proverbs. Even in that section most statements were common-sense platitudes that essentially told the reader, “Be good, work hard, and treat others well.” No doubt we need to hear such messages repeatedly, but a normal individual of average intelligence should discover these principles without a revelation from on high.

Here are the verses that seemed insightful, beyond mere “let’s-be-good” platitudes:

“Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you.” (Proverbs 9:8)

“When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is prudent.” (Proverbs 10:19)

“A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight.” (Proverbs 11:1)

I especially appreciate the first of these items. It pushes against the peculiarly-common human inclination to waste time arguing with fools. I still fall into that trap at times, so it’s a good lesson for me personally.

Again, try this yourself. Open the Old Testament to five different places at random, revealing ten pages. Look for passages that sound like genuine divine revelations, statements which give you that spine-tingling feeling that something transcendent has broken into our human world. (In the New Testament, “Love your enemies” is a good example.) See what you learn. [End of post from Did God Really Say THAT!? A Blog about the Bible.]

Note: I used to see the Bible as roughly a 50-50 mix of helpful and unhelpful passages, with lots of uplifting verses along with many erroneous and morally inferior teachings. But now it’s beginning to seem as if the dangerous and morally repugnant passages predominate.

In a few weeks I’ll resume blogging about the Old Testament and then move on to the Gospels and other New Testament material. I’ll cross-post most of these entries on Theists & Atheists: Communication & Common Ground.

Roger Christan Schriner

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