What Is Sound Doctrine concerning the Doctrinal Importance of Narratives in Scripture?

In a recent thread, the following comments were made:  

Yes, it's God doing this, but we need to keep in mind that Deuteronomy 34:6 is not law, but rather narrative, and trying to derive doctrine from narrative is extremely dangerous business. 

Again, narrative passages tell us what happened, but not always the why.  That's why it's extremely dangerous to try to derive doctrine from narrative passages. 

The passages used by Rajesh to justify his position are narrative, description and not prescription, and hence it's (again) extremely dangerous business to try and draw doctrine from these narratives.

This is one view concerning what is sound doctrine concerning the doctrinal importance of narratives in Scripture. When someone makes an assertion that something is so, they are responsible for proving that what they assert is so.

The maker of these comments, however, has provided no support for his position beyond mere assertion. Mere assertion is not proof.

What is sound doctrine concerning the doctrinal importance of narratives in Scripture? Who decides what is the correct view and what is not?

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RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:

 

 

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

Would you admit that there CAN be a danger in drawing doctrine from narrative if it is done in an inappropriate way. I realize you don't believe you were doing it yourself in that inappropriate way, but would you admit that the danger exists IF the inappropriate way is used?

 

 

Really? You need an "admission" from me as if I do not already know that or believe that?

I already stated that people can misuse Scripture: 

Certainly, Scripture can be and is mishandled by many, but no one should approach narratives in Scripture with the highly problematic notion that "it's extremely dangerous to try to derive doctrine from narrative passages.

There is no need to state or "admit" what is so obvious.

 

Yes, Rajesh, sometimes it IS like pulling teeth to get you to admit the obvious. Even the statement of yours which you quoted, in which you admit that Scripture can be mishandled, is watered down by the rest of your comment.

Your opinions about me do not change the fact that saying that "it's extremely dangerous to try to derive doctrine from narrative passages" is an indefensible and highly unbiblical statement.

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:

 

Of these 9 main passages that I treated in the other thread, the parts of 5 of the passages that I treated in the other thread are not narrative passages at all (#1-#5). This proves that those who have asserted that I have mainly argued from narratives in that other thread have not represented my work properly.

(

Nobody was saying that you argued mainly from narrative passages. I believe the point was that WHEN you did argue from the narrative passages, you did so in a faulty manner. You didn't seem to follow the standard you set forth in this thread for dealing with narrative passages. In this thread you said "Examining how the Scripture writers use information provided elsewhere in Scripture in narrative passages to issue authoritative direction to God's people is the most important means for how we are to learn how we are to make use of what God has revealed in narrative passages." You didn't use this standard in the other thread.

 

Also, some of the passages you used in the other thread were commands given specifically to the Israelites. We discussed in the other thread how commands to the Israelites are not always applicable to believers today.

Repeatedly refuting your faulty claims about what I did or did not do in that thread detracts from the importance of the subject of this thread. I am not going to engage in any more discussion with you about anything that has to do with the other thread

JNoël's picture

RajeshG wrote:

Your opinions about me do not change the fact that saying that "it's extremely dangerous to try to derive doctrine from narrative passages" is an indefensible and highly unbiblical statement.

"Indefensible" is a conversation ender. If you really want to understand why "it's extremely dangerous to try to derive doctrine from narrative passages," you would be wise to retract it.

Ashamed of Jesus! of that Friend On whom for heaven my hopes depend! It must not be! be this my shame, That I no more revere His name. -Joseph Grigg (1720-1768)

RajeshG's picture

JNoël wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:

 

Your opinions about me do not change the fact that saying that "it's extremely dangerous to try to derive doctrine from narrative passages" is an indefensible and highly unbiblical statement.

 

 

"Indefensible" is a conversation ender. If you really want to understand why "it's extremely dangerous to try to derive doctrine from narrative passages," you would be wise to retract it.

Hmm. I have already stated earlier in this thread my belief that there are many who mishandle Scripture. That reality does not justify or establish the validity of the statement in question.

I am also fully aware of passages that warn against the wrong handling of Scripture, such as the following:

2 Corinthians 2:17 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.

2 Peter 3:16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

Having said that, I look forward to your thoroughly and carefully proving from Scripture itself the validity of the statement that "it's extremely dangerous to try to derive doctrine from narratives."

To save us time, I hold that providing examples, whether a few or numerous, of how people have wrongly handled narratives will not prove the validity of that statement. If that is the approach that you are going to take, we are not going to agree . . .

JNoël's picture

My only point in my post was that in your saying "[the statement in question]" is "indefensible" shuts down the conversation - it communicates to others that you would not accept any argument, no matter how well-sourced, no matter how rationally sound: you have told everyone here that your position is the only correct one.

BREAK

In general, I stop listening to thoughtful interlocution when one side makes it clear his mind is closed. The conversation stops being interesting because it becomes clear one side is no longer willing to think.

Ashamed of Jesus! of that Friend On whom for heaven my hopes depend! It must not be! be this my shame, That I no more revere His name. -Joseph Grigg (1720-1768)

RajeshG's picture

JNoël wrote:

My only point in my post was that in your saying "[the statement in question]" is "indefensible" shuts down the conversation - it communicates to others that you would not accept any argument, no matter how well-sourced, no matter how rationally sound: you have told everyone here that your position is the only correct one.

BREAK

In general, I stop listening to thoughtful interlocution when one side makes it clear his mind is closed. The conversation stops being interesting because it becomes clear one side is no longer willing to think.

I wondered if that might be what you were getting at. Thanks for clarifying what you meant.

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

 

Kevin Miller wrote:

Nobody was saying that you argued mainly from narrative passages. I believe the point was that WHEN you did argue from the narrative passages, you did so in a faulty manner. You didn't seem to follow the standard you set forth in this thread for dealing with narrative passages. In this thread you said "Examining how the Scripture writers use information provided elsewhere in Scripture in narrative passages to issue authoritative direction to God's people is the most important means for how we are to learn how we are to make use of what God has revealed in narrative passages." You didn't use this standard in the other thread.

Also, some of the passages you used in the other thread were commands given specifically to the Israelites. We discussed in the other thread how commands to the Israelites are not always applicable to believers today.

 

Repeatedly refuting your faulty claims about what I did or did not do in that thread detracts from the importance of the subject of this thread. I am not going to engage in any more discussion with you about anything that has to do with the other thread

I see this as admitting that you used a different standard in that other thread compared to what you're trying to do in this thread. Considering "the importance of the subject of this thread," I would think you would want to readily show me how you used the correct method in the other thread.

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:

 

 

Kevin Miller wrote:

Nobody was saying that you argued mainly from narrative passages. I believe the point was that WHEN you did argue from the narrative passages, you did so in a faulty manner. You didn't seem to follow the standard you set forth in this thread for dealing with narrative passages. In this thread you said "Examining how the Scripture writers use information provided elsewhere in Scripture in narrative passages to issue authoritative direction to God's people is the most important means for how we are to learn how we are to make use of what God has revealed in narrative passages." You didn't use this standard in the other thread.

Also, some of the passages you used in the other thread were commands given specifically to the Israelites. We discussed in the other thread how commands to the Israelites are not always applicable to believers today.

 

Repeatedly refuting your faulty claims about what I did or did not do in that thread detracts from the importance of the subject of this thread. I am not going to engage in any more discussion with you about anything that has to do with the other thread

 

I see this as admitting that you used a different standard in that other thread compared to what you're trying to do in this thread. Considering "the importance of the subject of this thread," I would think you would want to readily show me how you used the correct method in the other thread.

See what you want. I have not admitted anything, and I am not going discuss anything specific about that other thread in this thread.

JNoël's picture

This really is an interesting conversation to me. RajeshG is convinced in his mind about an aspect of the Christian life - but he is convinced in accordance with a hermeneutical method that not everyone agrees with. But defining the hermeneutical differences seems to be the challenge here. RajeshG does not want others to use any examples from the conversation that drove this one, but RajeshG has also stated that none of the examples used in this thread use the same hermeneutical method as that of the other thread (at least, I think that's what is going on here).

Can we all at least agree that there are no clear commands of scripture prohibiting cremation? Worded in the reverse, can we all at least agree that there are no clear commands of scripture requiring the dead to be "buried" (whatever that specifically means is up for grabs, as burial has been done differently throughout time, but the bottom line that I think RajeshG cares about is that the body is left intact - assuming the death itself did not mutilate the body via explosion or other catastrophy)?

Ashamed of Jesus! of that Friend On whom for heaven my hopes depend! It must not be! be this my shame, That I no more revere His name. -Joseph Grigg (1720-1768)

RajeshG's picture

JNoël wrote:

RajeshG does not want others to use any examples from the conversation that drove this one, but RajeshG has also stated that none of the examples used in this thread use the same hermeneutical method as that of the other thread (at least, I think that's what is going on here).

No, I do not want people to use examples from the other thread in this thread because I do not want this thread to become another discussion on those specific subjects. Anyone is welcome to discuss those subjects in that other thread.

I most certainly have not stated that "none of the examples used in this thread use the same heremeneutical method as that of the other thread." I've hardly begun to treat Scripture in this thread to provide biblical examples because so many people are bent on making this thread a discussion of the same subjects as the other thread. In fact, I've only provided one specific example from the Bible so far in this thread that directly pertains to how a narrative passage was used to give God's people a command and no one so far has engaged with that example.

Bert Perry's picture

Narrative is, literarily speaking, simply the story, or, put in simple terms, "what happened?".  There are narratives that are very good, narratives that are very evil, narratives that are a mix of the two, and finally narratives where it's not intuitively clear whether the actions being described are inherently good or evil.  

And hence when one is trying to apply a narrative to doctrine, you have any number of contexts--social context, cultural context, situational context, context in the passage as a whole, context in the "book of the Bible" as a whole, and finally Old Testament/New Testament/Biblical/systematic context.  If you skip or misplace any of these, you will tend to introduce a lot of error when trying to apply narrative do doctrine.

In other words, by very definition, using narrative for doctrine is dangerous business.  It's a principle that applies to all works of literature, not just the Bible, because it's logically derived. 

If you try to derive this principle "from Scripture", as some would demand, what you end up with is a tautology or Catch-22; before you can process Scripture to learn what God's will is for your life, you have to process it to find your exegetical principles, but before that you must have approached Scripture to find your exegetical principles.

In other words, before you can get started, you must have already started and come up with something.  It's a dog chasing its tail, rhetorically speaking.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

JNoël's picture

Who gets to decide when things seen in narrative should be taken as prescriptive commands?

Really, this entire conversation is out of my league, as I am hardly a hermeneutic expert. But, as a Christian, desiring to obey God, and with the knowledge that God speaks to me through his Word, I have an interest in understanding this conversation. I'd love to know what Paul Henebury thinks about this, but I'm pretty sure cremation would fall into a C4 or even C5 if that subject were run through his Rules of Affinity. That doesn't mean Paul Henebury's man-made rules are absolutes in every single case, of course, but they are awfully difficult to argue against.

Ashamed of Jesus! of that Friend On whom for heaven my hopes depend! It must not be! be this my shame, That I no more revere His name. -Joseph Grigg (1720-1768)

RajeshG's picture

JNoël wrote:

Who gets to decide when things seen in narrative should be taken as prescriptive commands?

Really, this entire conversation is out of my league, as I am hardly a hermeneutic expert. But, as a Christian, desiring to obey God, and with the knowledge that God speaks to me through his Word, I have an interest in understanding this conversation.

1. Listen to God:

2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

Romans 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

1 Cor. 10:6 Now these things were our examples . . . 11 Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

Pay close attention to how Scripture writers themselves use Scripture passages.

2. Reject nonsense statements: 

"It's extremely dangerous to try to derive doctrine from narrative passages."

Darrell McCarthy's picture

"I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down." (2 Kings 21:13)

Comment File: 
Dan Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

I appreciate your interest in interacting on this subject and hope that there will be more interaction that is profitable and edifying. 

It is not my intent that this thread become another thread about burial vs. cremation. That is for the other thread...

If you could keep your focus on examining how the Bible itself reveals the doctrinal importance of narratives, that would be great. Maybe, you could copy these comments into the other thread and continue in that thread the discussions of the parts in your comments that are specific to burial vs. cremation?

That's fine, I guess. I have tried to have theoretical discussions (no examples - only theory) in the past and it doesn't work as well as you would hope.

However, I think we all agree that all Scripture is useful for doctrine, reproof, and instruction in righteousness

JNoel says deriving doctrine from narrative is "extremely dangerous." Rajesh rejects "extremely dangerous." I suggest you both agree that it's necessary but dangerous.

---------- Moving on to theory ---------
Rajesh, do you see this thread as,

  • "True or False - narratives in Scripture are doctrinally important"   or 
  • "What are the Biblical principles according to which doctrine should be derived from narratives in Scripture?"

 

JNoël's picture

Dan Miller wrote:

JNoel says deriving doctrine from narrative is "extremely dangerous." Rajesh rejects "extremely dangerous." I suggest you both agree that it's necessary but dangerous.

I never said that - Bert Perry did. I also did not say whether or not I agreed with Bert.

https://sharperiron.org/comment/127905

Bert Perry wrote:

To be sure, God did not need  to do some of these things, but it's worth noting that had God said to do something else with the bodies--Abraham, executed criminals, Moses--that would have been going against known cultural preferences in the region, and would have had a very clear meaning.  So in those cases, He's simply going along with what these people would have chosen to begin with.  In other words, following cultural preferences in areas where they didn't have sufficient wood to light a funeral pyre.

Again, narrative passages tell us what happened, but not always the why.  That's why it's extremely dangerous to try to derive doctrine from narrative passages.  

Come on, Rajesh, you should have learned this at BJU.  You should not be making mistakes like this with your level of training.

Ashamed of Jesus! of that Friend On whom for heaven my hopes depend! It must not be! be this my shame, That I no more revere His name. -Joseph Grigg (1720-1768)

Dan Miller's picture

Regardless, my point is that "extremely" doesn't have much meaning in the sentence. It's enough to say "dangerous."

RajeshG's picture

Dan Miller wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:

 

I appreciate your interest in interacting on this subject and hope that there will be more interaction that is profitable and edifying. 

It is not my intent that this thread become another thread about burial vs. cremation. That is for the other thread...

If you could keep your focus on examining how the Bible itself reveals the doctrinal importance of narratives, that would be great. Maybe, you could copy these comments into the other thread and continue in that thread the discussions of the parts in your comments that are specific to burial vs. cremation?

 

 

That's fine, I guess. I have tried to have theoretical discussions (no examples - only theory) in the past and it doesn't work as well as you would hope.

However, I think we all agree that all Scripture is useful for doctrine, reproof, and instruction in righteousness

JNoel says deriving doctrine from narrative is "extremely dangerous." Rajesh rejects "extremely dangerous." I suggest you both agree that it's necessary but dangerous.

---------- Moving on to theory ---------
Rajesh, do you see this thread as,

  • "True or False - narratives in Scripture are doctrinally important"   or 
  • "What are the Biblical principles according to which doctrine should be derived from narratives in Scripture?"

 

Both, but the 2nd one will not be my focus in the thread until much later. Before doing that, the most important data that must be thoroughly treated in this thread is what we see in Scripture itself about how narrative passages were used by Jesus and by the Scripture writers, especially to give prescriptive statements.

I have treated the first example concerning the command that Jesus gave about remembering Lot's wife.
 

Jesus' command about something given us in a narrative passage

RajeshG - Mon, 07/04/2022 - 7:09am

Here is an example of how Jesus used information that is given to us in a narrative passage:

Luke 17:32 Remember Lot's wife.

The information about what happened to Lot's wife is given to us in a passage that is a historical narrative of God's judging Sodom and Gomorrah and delivering Lot and his two daughters from that judgment:

Gen. 19:26 But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

This statement reveals and describes what happened to her, but Jesus issued a command to His disciples that they must learn from that narrative information, keep recalling to their minds what happened to her, and by way of legitimate and necessary implication, not do as she did.

Obviously, it was not very likely that His disciples (or we) would face a situation that was exactly the same as she was in or even closely parallel to it. Nonetheless, Jesus commanded them to profit from that narrative information.

 

"Descriptive"--->"Prescriptive" #1

RajeshG - Tue, 07/05/2022 - 6:18am

When Jesus issued the command to remember Lot's wife (Lk. 17:32), He took "descriptive" information from a narrative account in Scripture in Gen. 19:17-26 and used it to utter a prescriptive statement in Lk. 17:32. 

Gen. 19:17-26 ---> Lk. 17:32 is the first biblical example that I am presenting of how something that is given in a "descriptive" passage was legitimately used by Jesus to utter a prescriptive statement.

This biblical observation informs us about sound doctrine concerning the doctrinal importance of narratives in Scripture.

No one so far has commented on that biblical example. How about engaging with that example that is directly from the Bible itself?

JNoël's picture

RajeshG wrote:

1. Listen to God

Of course. I don't think any of us have any question about that. God speaks to me as a Christian by way of the words in the Bible.

RajeshG wrote:

2. Reject nonsense statements

Also of course.

RajeshG wrote:

Your opinions about me do not change the fact that saying that "it's extremely dangerous to try to derive doctrine from narrative passages" is an indefensible and highly unbiblical statement.

I reject what you just said there. Bert Perry's position is defensible and it is not highly unbiblical. I have listened to many people in this conversation defend Bert's position well, with sound, logical arguments.

"Deriving doctrine" even in itself is dangerous - it requires great care. This is one reason why God gave us pastors - those who are skilled in helping us understand the sense of the scriptures. Christians are on dangerous ground to take an absolute stand on any doctrine that is scripturally ambiguous. What you are doing is taking a matter of conscience and elevating it to a matter of strict doctrine. There are scriptural prohibitions against what you are doing. I do not condemn you in your position regarding the matter in the other thread: it is a matter of conscience, and yours is bound to that position. But, respectfully, and as lovingly as can be done in a public forum, I am calling you out as wrong for elevating a matter of conscience above what it is. We believe in God the Father, creator of Heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ his only son, our Lord. He was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, and you know the rest. That and many other things not in the apostle's creed are immovable objects of doctrine. Handling of the dead, styles of music, braiding of hair, church polity, food choices, human ownership, divorce, remarriage, tobacco, wine, caffeine, etc., should never be elevated to a level beyond conscience. To do so violates principles clearly laid out in Romans 14 and 1 Cor 8-11:1 and creates division among brothers that should not exist.

Ashamed of Jesus! of that Friend On whom for heaven my hopes depend! It must not be! be this my shame, That I no more revere His name. -Joseph Grigg (1720-1768)

Darrell McCarthy's picture

Tip on interpretation and application!

If it's 'new' and you are the only champion of ... you're probably wrong!

Dan Miller's picture

After hearing Luther’s “Here I stand” speech, Charles V expressed his skepticism:

“It is certain," he concluded, "that a single friar errs in his opinion which is against all Christendom and according to which all of Christianity will be and will always have been in error both in the past thousand years and even more in the present." (Noll, Turning Points)

-----------

Rahesh's point is somewhat valid, along with (and only along with) the cautions and principles that ought to attend it. 

Quote:

Rajesh, do you see this thread as,

- "True or False - narratives in Scripture are doctrinally important"   or 

- "What are the Biblical principles according to which doctrine should be derived from narratives in Scripture?"

Both, but the 2nd one will not be my focus in the thread until much later.

I dare say that the 1st is agreed to by all so long as the 2nd is the properly answered. 

josh p's picture

Not to detract from the thread but Luther was accused of being novel as an insult. He was regularly accused of being a "hussite" (primarily by Johann Eck) before he had even read Huss himself. After reading him, he said to Cajetan that he was a Hussite after all. There were many antecedents to Luther's theology throughout the Middle Ages. Even his old foe Erasmus was in agreement with many of his criticisms of the church. 
 

 

Bert Perry's picture

Novelty is not a sign that you're wrong per se, but if you're innovating, I think basic humility would dictate that one devote even more due diligence to make sure you're not out to lunch.  No?  

Regarding saying that deriving doctrine from narrative being "extremely" dangerous vs. just plain dangerous, the reason I used that phrasing is because due to the very definition of narrative, the number of steps between narrative and instruction is greater.  Hence the opportunity for error and/or mischief is greater.

Put differently, I don't believe that any Christian would deny that all of Scripture can be used for doctrine.  What's in dispute is the care and the checkpoints one ought to use when one starts from narrative.  My take is that when trying to apply narrative, a lot of people don't take the culture, geography, and parallel passages into account nearly as strongly as they ought.  This is certainly my opinion of the topics Rajesh has brought to this forum.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

RajeshG's picture

In the other thread, Bert Perry made the claim that a particular Israelite practice that we see throughout Scripture was basically more or less just a cultural practice due to a lack of wood. As support for his claim, he merely mentioned the burning of certain other things in Scripture besides wood. (Only after I challenged him forcefully did he later attempt to support it further.)

On the basis of that evidence that was purely his take on information from some narrative passages (ahem), he pronounced that I was sorely lacking in my exegetical abilities, etc.

Tellingly, he cited no authorities who agreed with him that this was basically the explanation for that practice. He offered no proof other than his mere assertion.

I answered his faulty claims by pointing out that I have not seen a single source, whether from a Jewish authority, or a Christian source, or a secular source, that has made any mention of a lack of wood as basically the reason for that allegedly Jewish cultural practice. (There may be such sources, but I have not seen one yet.) I also provided information from both Scripture and other sources to answer his faulty claims.

Apparently, Bert Perry is the only one who makes the claim that practice was more or less a cultural preference due merely to a lack of wood in Israel and the Near East. It seems that novelty in handling Scripture, explaining it, using information from narrative passages (ahem) to interpret it, and charging others with mishandling Scripture is legitimate in Bert Perry's mind when he is the one who does it. It apparently is also acceptable to some others . . .

RajeshG's picture

In 1 Cor. 10:6, the Apostle Paul uses information provided to us in a narrative passage in Num. 11 to provide prescriptive teaching to Christians:

1 Corinthians 10:6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.

Numbers 11:4 And the mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat?

Because of their lusting after evil things, God judged the Israelites fiercely. It's important to keep in mind that God has not recorded (as far as I can tell from Scripture) that He had previously provided specific warnings to the Israelites not to do what they did on that occasion. Nevertheless, when they sinned in that manner, they experienced intense divine judgment at the hand of God.

From Paul's stating that example was provided as an example to us with the intent that we would not lust after evil things, as they did, we see clearly that descriptive information from a historical narrative passage was used in apostolic prescriptive teaching to all Christians.

Bert Perry's picture

Rajesh, what you just wrote is a set of lies.  Regarding a lack of wood, I provided the current climate type for Israel (arid), the fact that Ezekiel records burning manure and vine trimmings (you don't get dried manure without an arid climate--just ask ranchers), prohibitions against cutting down trees (yes, it has a lot to do with the fact they don't grow back quickly in arid climates), general listings of the kinds of trees found in Israel, and the fact that most buildings in Israel to this day are built with masonry.  I even pointed out that Song of Songs 2:11 points out that the rains don't come in summer, which is the exact same pattern seen in Israel's weather today.  You don't get cord after cord of wood to burn when you don't get rain for half the year.

You can disagree with the importance of the evidence I presented, but to say I didn't present any is a flat out lie on your part.

Regarding the notion that I'm the only one who's ever believed that burial was a cultural practice among the Jews, Tacitus described this in Histories 5:5, including a note about their aversion to cremation.  See Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible for details.  Also of interest is the link this commenter makes to Jewish tradition or "Oral Torah".  So unless we're going to elevate the Talmud, Midrash, and the like to the status of Scripture, we've got to assume that this means burial is a cultural practice of the Jews.

Probably most important, however, is the very set of references you bring to the table that pretty much invariably describe burial as the way the bodies of the dead were handled, combined with the fact that the Torah doesn't prohibit other means of disposing of a corpse.   Any practice that is not required by law, but is done anyway, is cultural.  

So yes, Rajesh, given that a lot of my best evidence against your argument comes from you, I think there is something dreadfully wrong in your exegetical methods.  And apart from the very definition of "narrative", your thinking is wonderful proof of how hazardous it can be to try to use narrative to establish doctrine.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

RajeshG's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

Rajesh, what you just wrote is a set of lies.  Regarding a lack of wood, I provided the current climate type for Israel (arid), the fact that Ezekiel records burning manure and vine trimmings (you don't get dried manure without an arid climate--just ask ranchers), prohibitions against cutting down trees (yes, it has a lot to do with the fact they don't grow back quickly in arid climates), general listings of the kinds of trees found in Israel, and the fact that most buildings in Israel to this day are built with masonry.  I even pointed out that Song of Songs 2:11 points out that the rains don't come in summer, which is the exact same pattern seen in Israel's weather today.  You don't get cord after cord of wood to burn when you don't get rain for half the year.

You can disagree with the importance of the evidence I presented, but to say I didn't present any is a flat out lie on your part.

Wrong again. You only provided all of this additional evidence much later when I forcefully challenged you about those claims. In your earlier comments that you used to charge me with mishandling Scripture, you only provided the information that I correctly mentioned in my comment.

In a parenthetical statement, I said that you provided additional evidence later so I did not lie at all.

RajeshG's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

Regarding the notion that I'm the only one who's ever believed that burial was a cultural practice among the Jews, Tacitus described this in Histories 5:5, including a note about their aversion to cremation.  See Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible for details.  Also of interest is the link this commenter makes to Jewish tradition or "Oral Torah".  So unless we're going to elevate the Talmud, Midrash, and the like to the status of Scripture, we've got to assume that this means burial is a cultural practice of the Jews.

This is another misrepresentation. I did not say that you are the only one who's ever believed that burial was a cultural practice among the Jews. I said that you are the only one that I have seen who has argued that it was a cultural practice more or less due to a lack of wood. Your novel claim is that it was a cultural practice because there was not enough wood readily available to cremate.

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