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Monday, September 27, 2010

Day 27 (No God but God)

[Response to March 23-25 in the One Year Bible]

One of the basic beliefs of Islam is that "[t]here is no God but God, and Mohamed is his prophet." Searching the Hebrew texts one finds that particularly early on, the position is that the Hebrew god is the best of all the gods. Indeed, as I explored when I began the story of Moses, some work was done to reconcile the worship of El Shaddai with the worship of YHWH, namely YHWH assures Moses that he is also El Shaddai. Much of this is lost on Christian readers when our translators chose to "preserve" the original meaning by "God" for El Shaddai and "LORD" for YHWH and "Lord" for a generic person.

Today includes an interesting passage at the beginning of Deuteronomy that discusses the shapeless nature of the Hebrew god, AND provides later on a verse supporting the notion that not only is YHWH the best God, but he is the only God. Here.

Side note: Deuteronomy begins with an account of Moses' account of what has happened so far. It is interesting because in Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers much of the narration and laws come from the author relaying God's words in direct quote. I find it an interesting transition.

Oh yeah, and some more in-your-face miracles reported by the author of Luke here.

3 comments:

Matt Dick said...

So why do you think we're seeing a transition that wasn't cleaned up?

It makes sense for later authors to see their god as different from the way that the authors of Genesis saw their god, even if those later authors didn't think they were seeing god differently. But why, when the bible was canonized, didn't the diet just make some important editing decisions to clean up these weird inconsistencies? Why leave a Big Man, walk-around God from Genesis in the same canon as Deuteronomic omnipotent entity in the sky God?

lesti

JimII said...

I believe it is because the Hebrew society valued discourse. I think rather than an accident to include both perspectives, it is intentional. My support for this is not incredibly strong, but I've heard it suggested before and it makes more sense to me than sloppy copy-editing.

Matt Dick said...

Yes, I don't think it was an accident.

I thought about it over lunch (a great Filipino cafeteria in Mountain View, CA). I think I put *way* too much emphasis on modern thoughts about Christianity. Most modern Christians in the United States would be really challenged if they thought deeply about there being two very distinct and somewhat contradictory descriptions of God in the bible.

This skewed perception makes me wonder what in the world they were thinking at the Council of Trent. But of course those at that council would look at me strangely and say, "Why on Earth would we be challenged by two descriptions of God? One was written hundreds of years before the other by a different person or people in a totally different language. Yes they were inspired, but not into some news account of fact, moron, not go away and stop bothering us."

That, but like in old German.

unksly