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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Larry's picture

Moderator

 

Yes that is the reason for their inerrancy.  Agreed.

Fair enough. I think inspiration is the cause of inerrancy. 

When it comes to Scripture and interpretation, we have two claims: inspiration or exegesis. If you have inspiration, you don't need exegesis. That's why we can't do what the apostles did in at least some cases. If you don't have inspiration, you have to have exegesis. As Bryan Chappel says, "A minister's imagination is a poor place to determine the meaning of a text." And I think we are seeing a lot of that at times.

RajeshG's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

 

It requires . . . really a level of humility to say "this is what is not obvious here".   
 

1. Take a long, hard, honest look in the mirror.

2. Ingest a massive slice of humble pie.

3. Repeat steps 1 & 2 several times.

4. Commit yourself to intellectual honesty and accurate representation of people's views, positions, and statements.

Perhaps, God may yet have mercy on you.
 

AndyE's picture

Larry wrote:

 

Yes that is the reason for their inerrancy.  Agreed.

Fair enough. I think inspiration is the cause of inerrancy. 

When it comes to Scripture and interpretation, we have two claims: inspiration or exegesis. If you have inspiration, you don't need exegesis. That's why we can't do what the apostles did in at least some cases. If you don't have inspiration, you have to have exegesis.

I'm not sure it has to be an either or.  I think in most cases the Lord is breathing out the work of their exegesis.  He may be guiding them to make sure the results are correct.  That's something we don't have.  In most cases I don't think it is new revelation regarding the significance of the text but bringing out what is already there.

 

Ron Bean's picture

You provided an example where Paul formulated a prescriptive command for NT believers on the basis of an Old Testament COMMAND. Could you provide an example where a New Testament writer followed your pattern and formulated a prescriptive command from an Old Testament NARRATIVE?

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

RajeshG's picture

Ultimately, this thread was necessary because Bert Perry has seriously mishandled Scripture in the other thread. It was also necessary to lay the proper foundation for answering serious charges that he leveled against me in that thread.

Having already set forth earlier in this thread multiple examples of how Paul formulated prescriptive commands from information provided to us in OT narratives, it is necessary for me now to further confront Bert Perry's serious mishandling of Scripture in the other thread.

To that end, note carefully this particular exchange that I had with him in that thread:
 

Yeah , sure, Rajesh

Bert Perry - Wed, 06/15/2022 - 1:13pm

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.

My response to his comments:

False assertions

RajeshG - Wed, 06/15/2022 - 4:35pm

Yeah, right. The nonsense notion that God was bound to heed the cultural preferences of human beings in directing His unique people whom He took out to be a light to the world is utterly ridiculous.

God is absolutely sovereign and was completely free to direct His people according to His mind and did just that. Regardless of what anybody may or may not have preferred, God was not bound by their preferences, and He did not determine His actions so that He merely went along with their cultural preferences.

God did what He did because burying people after death has always been God's mind about what should be done unless He sovereignly chooses to do otherwise. What God did reveals His mind--not His subjecting Himself to human preferences.

Furthermore, the claim that God just went along with human preferences begs the question that God had no mind of His own about what should be done and that it did not and does not matter to Him what is done with a dead body. No one gets to beg that question. Those who want to espouse that view have to prove it from the Bible itself.

In succeeding comments in this thread, I am going to deal further with his serious mishandling of Scripture as seen above in his first paragraph:
 

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.

Notice that his key claim here is merely an unspecified assertion that God's "going against known cultural preferences in the region . . . would have had a very clear meaning."

What does this even mean? How is it legitimate for him to set forth this vague assertion of "would have had a very clear meaning" as a proper justification for how he explains away the evidence that I provided from multiple passages that were by no means all narrative passages?

Before I address this further, I will pause to allow Bert Perry to explain and defend his claims here and provide detailed explanation and proof for what he asserts. If he does not do so, it will be proven that he has once again argued fallaciously by making a mere assertion without proving its validity.

Larry's picture

Moderator

I'm not sure it has to be an either or.  I think in most cases the Lord is breathing out the work of their exegesis.  He may be guiding them to make sure the results are correct.  That's something we don't have.  In most cases I don't think it is new revelation regarding the significance of the text but bringing out what is already there.

There are some places where the NT usage has no apparent relation to the exegesis of the OT text at hand. There are a wide variety of uses, only one of which is exegetical per se. On the general topic I commend to you this article by John Walton: https://tms.edu/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/tmsj13c.pdf

When the authority of an author comes by means of inspiration, he does not need to validate his statements by appealing to hermeneutical principles. We do not wish to reproduce the hermeneutics of NT authors because they, by virtue of inspiration, accrued authority to themselves by means unavailable to us. We seek only to proclaim what the text, in its authority, has already revealed.

,,,

Subjective interpretation is not a danger because it is the enemy of truth. It is a danger because it masquerades as having the authority of God.

 

 

Larry's picture

Moderator

How about if we stop with the "seriously mishandling Scripture" stuff? And let's not assume that if someone doesn't respond as one party wishes, that they have been proven wrong. I think a different approach to conversation would be more productive. 

RajeshG's picture

Larry wrote:

How about if we stop with the "seriously mishandling Scripture" stuff? And let's not assume that if someone doesn't respond as one party wishes, that they have been proven wrong. I think a different approach to conversation would be more productive. 

How is this fair?

Bert Perry has repeatedly charged me with very serious charges of mishandling Scripture, and his statements were allowed to stand. He even went so far as to say that he was "calling [me] to repentance for what [he believes] is a graceless manhandling of the Scripture to try to serve [my] own ends . . .":

 

Unjustified attacks?

Bert Perry - Sun, 06/19/2022 - 8:52pm

Rajesh, I'm not trying to drive you away, but I am calling you to repentance for what I believe is a graceless manhandling of the Scripture to try to serve your own ends, a manhandling which falls afoul of the rules of logic and the rules of exegesis.

To put it bluntly, if there is anything wrong in the way I've responded to you here, you ought to be able to, with your training, point to recognized authorities who have explained how narrative can and should be used in the way you do.   Let's give actually providing evidence a try.

Where was the intervention then?

Why are you intervening now when I am confronting him further with his false claims?

Larry's picture

Moderator

Why are you intervening now when I am confronting him further with his false claims?

Bert was wrong and his statements weren't allowed to stand. You addressed them and are continuing to address them. I haven't removed your posts. I am trying to encourage a different level of conversation. Learning to disagree agreeable is a good thing. You don't have to sink to someone else's level if you think they are wrong or handling it wrong. It's like the old saying about not wrestling with a pig because both of you get dirty and the pig likes it. It's okay to take the high road. Make your point and move on.

Personally Rajesh, I think you are wrong on your method and wrong on your position. But I don't need to win that. I don't really care. Your position is the most common position. Your method is at the very least unclear to me. You seem to have modified somewhat from your earlier statements. If I cared enough, I would go back and look. But whatever the case, it's okay to take the high road. 

Bert Perry's picture

Rajesh, first of all, at least seven other people besides myself have, on this very thread, pointed out problems with your exegetical and hermeneutical methods.  It's not just me that has problems with your methods, and really, people questioning your exegetical methods goes right back to your first post on this site three and a half years ago.  Overall, dozens of Godly men have confronted you on this since you joined this forum.  

In that light, I think you owe a coherent defense of your methods that so far, I haven't seen.  It also ought to be noted that if you are (and you are) ignoring the objections of dozens of Godly men to your exegetical methods, you really ought to think twice before impugning other peoples' humility or exegetical methods. It's not like you're Luther being confronted by the Catholic hierarchy at Worms here.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

RajeshG's picture

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.

This set of statements makes multiple truth claims about God. We must evaluate them rigorously to determine whether these statements speak of God "the thing[s] which [are] right" (Job 42:8).

These statements all assert that God conformed Himself to human cultural preferences when He did the following:

1. Give Abraham a divine promise and prophecy that he would be "buried in a good old age" (Gen. 15:15).

2. Command the Israelites not to allow the body of a criminal who had been executed and then hanged on a tree to remain all night on the tree; instead, He ordained that they must bury him that day (Deut. 21:23).

3. Bury Moses in a sepulchre when no humans were present and no humans knew where He buried him (Deut. 34:6).

To begin with, we must note that all three passages explicitly concern divine actions. Furthermore, all three are in the Pentateuch, which was written by the same human author. The first is part of a historical narrative passage in a different book than the other two. The latter two are in the same book; one is a prescriptive command and the other is part of a historical narrative passage.

This analysis shows that the following statement that was made immediately after the one quoted above misrepresents this set of data:

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.

This is a misrepresentation of my argument because I was not seeking to derive doctrine solely from narrative passages, as this quote misleadingly suggests that I was in the context in which it was made.

Deut. 21:22-23 was prescriptive and in the Law.

Having pointed out the misrepresentation of me made in the second paragraph, I will now proceed to further evaluate the truthfulness of the claim being made about God.
 

Bert Perry's picture

One good illustration of where I part company with Rajesh in his exegetical methods is specifically in this area, where we do indeed have great evidence that it was indeed a cultural preference to dispose of a dead body by burial.  Rajesh seems to assume that when, for example, God tells Israel to bury the bodies of dead criminals promptly (Deut 21:22-23), that this also amounts to evidence that other methods of disposal of bodies are prohibited.

But that's simply not what the passage says; it simply says "bury them."  And in that light, it matters a LOT whether burial is the usual cultural pattern, or whether they knew and had other alternatives that they used routinely. 

If cremation was a common practice, but a sinful one, you would expect God to mention it as out of bounds.  However, if it was generally unknown (not to mention impractical in the Sinai desert where the command was given), then mentioning it would actually undermine the authority of Moses because people would wonder why on earth he'd mentioned that.   You don't tell people not to do things that are unknown in their culture.

Hence I conclude, reasonably I believe, that the passage really cannot be construed to say anything about other methods of disposal of a body.  It just doesn't match what we know about Hebrew culture.  Telling them not to cremate would be like telling Americans not to detonate nuclear weapons over their own houses.  "We would have to be told this....why?"

Other checkpoints we could see here are whether those familiar with cremation object to it (they don't), whether cremation is recorded as a sin committed by pagans in Israel (it's not), or whether cremation is mentioned as a practice for disposal of an already dead body at all (it's not).  

So I reject Rajesh's hypothesis because there are simply too many things that do not fit, and that forms my objection to his hermeneutic.  He seems to simply skip over those cultural, Biblical, and geographical factors, generally dismissing them with "Well God could have...".  Well, yes, He could have, but in His goodness and mercy, He's trying to communicate with humans where they are.  These factors matter.

It's also a pattern that ought to be evaluated in light of the principles Paul makes in Galatians and elsewhere, as Rajesh's general pattern is to argue (very often from narrative) that various things most Christians hold to be adiaphora are in fact vile sins or tantamount to idolatry.  If he's wrong (and I believe he is), Rajesh is doing something very analogous to what the Judiazers were doing in Galatia, arguing that things are sin which in fact are not, limiting the liberty for which Christ died.  That's a huge issue.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

RajeshG's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

It's also a pattern that ought to be evaluated in light of the principles Paul makes in Galatians and elsewhere, as Rajesh's general pattern is to argue (very often from narrative) . . .

Of the key passages that I have treated in the other thread, half (6/12) are not narrative passages (1 Cor. 15; Deut. 21; Deut. 28; Amos 2; Heb. 11; Ezek. 39). Furthermore, of the narrative passages, 4 of the 6 explicitly concern divine actions (Gen. 15; Lev. 10; Deut. 34; 1 Kings 14; [narratives treated w/o direct divine actions: Gen. 23 & various passages in Job considered as a unit]). (I also mentioned other passages, but these are the ones that I regard to be the main ones.)

Furthermore, there are more passages that I am going to treat that are not narrative passages.

The same has been true of my extensive treatment of other subjects on SI. Ethical people understand the great importance of representing the positions of other people accurately.

Bert Perry's picture

...zero address cremation as such, but you're still assuming that they speak to cremation.  These also address the very concern I and others have with your isegesis--you're reading the concept into the passages without addressing the question of whether the original readers would have seen it as a natural concept at all.  Let's walk through it:

  • 1 Cor. 15: mentions that Jesus was buried, which again is simply the command of Deut. 21:22-23, as well as the cultural preference of the Hebrews.  Says nothing about other means of disposal of a body.
  • Deuteronomy 21: same as above.  God's basically saying "do what you ordinarily do with a dead body promptly because the penalty is already obvious and you don't want to cause disease."
  • Amos 2: as others have noted, what we have here is desecration of the bones.  Nothing to do with a choice to cremate.
  • Hebrews 11: again, merely mentions that Joseph gave instructions that amounted to having pagan embalmers work on his corpse for 40 days, removing all internal organs, including the brain.  Not quite sure how this matches your hypothesis of not dismembering the body, to put it mildly.
  • Ezekiel 39: notice that the birds and animals have already eaten the flesh of the deceased.  There is not much left to cremate that will burn.
  • Deuteronomy 28: OK, a curse is to (again, Ezekiel 39) have one's flesh eaten by birds and wild animals.   This has what to do with cremation?

Again, Rajesh, what you're doing is to insert the concept you want to address into passages whether or not it's actually there or even plausible.  This is why it's so important to ask these questions.  

In other words, by your very response, you are proving my point. You read things into all places in Scripture that simply are not there.  In doing so, you're trying to truncate the freedom that God gave us, and that's a huge, huge issue.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

RajeshG's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

It's also a pattern that ought to be evaluated in light of the principles Paul makes in Galatians and elsewhere, as Rajesh's general pattern is to argue (very often from narrative) that various things most Christians hold to be adiaphora are in fact vile sins or tantamount to idolatry.  If he's wrong (and I believe he is), Rajesh is doing something very analogous to what the Judiazers were doing in Galatia, arguing that things are sin which in fact are not, limiting the liberty for which Christ died.  That's a huge issue.

The Judaizers in Galatia were unbelievers who taught that circumcision was necessary for salvation. Associating me with their sinfulness is a classic example of the use of fallacious guilt-by-association.

RajeshG's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

One good illustration of where I part company with Rajesh in his exegetical methods is specifically in this area, where we do indeed have great evidence that it was indeed a cultural preference to dispose of a dead body by burial.  Rajesh seems to assume that when, for example, God tells Israel to bury the bodies of dead criminals promptly (Deut 21:22-23), that this also amounts to evidence that other methods of disposal of bodies are prohibited.

But that's simply not what the passage says; it simply says "bury them."  And in that light, it matters a LOT whether burial is the usual cultural pattern, or whether they knew and had other alternatives that they used routinely. 

If cremation was a common practice, but a sinful one, you would expect God to mention it as out of bounds.  However, if it was generally unknown (not to mention impractical in the Sinai desert where the command was given), then mentioning it would actually undermine the authority of Moses because people would wonder why on earth he'd mentioned that.   You don't tell people not to do things that are unknown in their culture.

Hence I conclude, reasonably I believe, that the passage really cannot be construed to say anything about other methods of disposal of a body.  It just doesn't match what we know about Hebrew culture.  Telling them not to cremate would be like telling Americans not to detonate nuclear weapons over their own houses.  "We would have to be told this....why?"

Other checkpoints we could see here are whether those familiar with cremation object to it (they don't), whether cremation is recorded as a sin committed by pagans in Israel (it's not), or whether cremation is mentioned as a practice for disposal of an already dead body at all (it's not).  

So I reject Rajesh's hypothesis because there are simply too many things that do not fit, and that forms my objection to his hermeneutic.  He seems to simply skip over those cultural, Biblical, and geographical factors, generally dismissing them with "Well God could have...".  Well, yes, He could have, but in His goodness and mercy, He's trying to communicate with humans where they are.  These factors matter.

In typical Bert Perry fashion, there is no documentation whatever to support his arguments. No support from Scripture. None.

Furthermore, he has not provided any citation of "recognized authorities," whether Christian, Jewish, or secular, to back up his novel view that burial by the Jews was basically a cultural preference due to the shortage of wood. Explaining away all the biblical data in that manner is mere assertion, which is fallacious. Asserting that God conformed Himself to culture on such a basis is . . .

RajeshG's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

One good illustration of where I part company with Rajesh in his exegetical methods is specifically in this area, where we do indeed have great evidence that it was indeed a cultural preference to dispose of a dead body by burial.  Rajesh seems to assume that when, for example, God tells Israel to bury the bodies of dead criminals promptly (Deut 21:22-23), that this also amounts to evidence that other methods of disposal of bodies are prohibited.

But that's simply not what the passage says; it simply says "bury them."  And in that light, it matters a LOT whether burial is the usual cultural pattern, or whether they knew and had other alternatives that they used routinely. 

If cremation was a common practice, but a sinful one, you would expect God to mention it as out of bounds.  However, if it was generally unknown (not to mention impractical in the Sinai desert where the command was given), then mentioning it would actually undermine the authority of Moses because people would wonder why on earth he'd mentioned that.   You don't tell people not to do things that are unknown in their culture.

God gave the Law to the Israelites as what they would have to obey everywhere they would ever be forever as His people. Claiming that something was an issue for the comparatively brief time that they were in Sinai and therefore a problem on that basis is laughable.

Scripture, in fact, attests to God's giving His people laws that were very distinct from the laws of all the other peoples:

Esther 3:5 And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then was Haman full of wrath.

6 And he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone; for they had shewed him the people of Mordecai: wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai.

7 In the first month, that is, the month Nisan, in the twelfth year of king Ahasuerus, they cast Pur, that is, the lot, before Haman from day to day, and from month to month, to the twelfth month, that is, the month Adar.

8 And Haman said unto king Ahasuerus, There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people; neither keep they the king's laws: therefore it is not for the king's profit to suffer them.

Approximately 1000 years after the giving of the Law, Scripture records testimony from a leading official in the Persian kingdom who attests to the reality that the Jewish laws that God gave them were still distinct from the laws of all the people in all the provinces of the Persian kingdom.

Bert Perry wants to argue that the Law that God gave Israel in Deut. 21:22-23 basically was what He gave them when He conformed Himself to the cultural practices and laws of the people around them at that time and that would be around them in the Promised Land. Scripture, however, shows that one who would take that position must prove it because it is contrary to what Scripture says about the distinctiveness of the Jewish laws.

RajeshG's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

One good illustration of where I part company with Rajesh in his exegetical methods is specifically in this area, where we do indeed have great evidence that it was indeed a cultural preference to dispose of a dead body by burial.  Rajesh seems to assume that when, for example, God tells Israel to bury the bodies of dead criminals promptly (Deut 21:22-23), that this also amounts to evidence that other methods of disposal of bodies are prohibited.

But that's simply not what the passage says; it simply says "bury them."  And in that light, it matters a LOT whether burial is the usual cultural pattern, or whether they knew and had other alternatives that they used routinely. 

If cremation was a common practice, but a sinful one, you would expect God to mention it as out of bounds.  However, if it was generally unknown (not to mention impractical in the Sinai desert where the command was given), then mentioning it would actually undermine the authority of Moses because people would wonder why on earth he'd mentioned that.   You don't tell people not to do things that are unknown in their culture.

A right handling and understanding of Deut. 21:22-23 is only possible when it is properly considered in connection with what else God provided them in the rest of the book.

Earlier in the book, God warned His people about the wickedness of the peoples that He was going to cut off in the Promised Land:

Deut. 12:29 When the Lord thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land;

30 Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise.

31 Thou shalt not do so unto the Lord thy God: for every abomination to the Lord, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods.

32 What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.

Notice carefully what God said to the Israelites about the wickedness of those nations. He said that every abomination that the Lord hates, they have done to their gods. Then God provides what He regards to be the consummate expression of their wickedness--burning their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.

Bert Perry say that region of the world had such a shortage of wood that cremation was not practiced and not practicable. Scripture, however, tells us that the wicked peoples of the Promised Land burned humans in the fire to their gods. Most certainly, therefore, we know that they had the wood needed to regularly burn people in fire.

If these people were so wicked that they devotedly burned living people in fire, there is no difficulty understanding that they also burned the dead bodies of people in fire. God did not need to mention cremation or condemn it because He mentioned something far worse that was exceedingly similar to it and because He denounced in the strongest possible terms that exceedingly wicked practice of the wicked peoples in the Promised Land.

Bert Perry's picture

RajeshG wrote:

 

Bert Perry wrote:

 

<most of my comment snipped>

So I reject Rajesh's hypothesis because there are simply too many things that do not fit, and that forms my objection to his hermeneutic.  He seems to simply skip over those cultural, Biblical, and geographical factors, generally dismissing them with "Well God could have...".  Well, yes, He could have, but in His goodness and mercy, He's trying to communicate with humans where they are.  These factors matter.

 

 

In typical Bert Perry fashion, there is no documentation whatever to support his arguments. No support from Scripture. None.

Furthermore, he has not provided any citation of "recognized authorities," whether Christian, Jewish, or secular, to back up his novel view that burial by the Jews was basically a cultural preference due to the shortage of wood. Explaining away all the biblical data in that manner is mere assertion, which is fallacious. Asserting that God conformed Himself to culture on such a basis is . . .

Regarding Rajesh's claim here,my argument is not that burial was done merely due to a shortage of wood, but rather that cremation was unthinkable because of a relative lack of wood and a need to use it for other purposes.   I don't think there's anything novel about that.  Mark Twain recorded the relative treelessness of Israel when he visited over a century ago.

Regarding places where I've provided evidence for that position, see here, here, here, here, here, and here.  You've got climate models ("arid"), satellite maps, descriptions of the plants found in Israel, Song of Songs 2:11's comment that the rain has stopped for summer (indicating similar climate then & now), prohibitions on cutting down food trees around cites for siege works, the clear description of wood for paneling as a luxury good, Isaac's conflicts over wells in Beer-Sheba (a desert to this day) in Genesis 26, burning of less optimal fuels like manure and vine trimmings, and more.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Dave White's picture

My 2 cents; the mods should close and lock this thread

 

 

RajeshG's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

Regarding Rajesh's claim here,my argument is not that burial was done merely due to a shortage of wood, but rather that cremation was unthinkable because of a relative lack of wood and a need to use it for other purposes.

Scripture says that the wicked nations who were in the Promised Land burned humans with fire to their gods (Deut. 12:31). They also sacrificed animals on their altars. They had the wood available to use for cremation.

Much later in their history, these wicked practices abounded in Israel.

Jeremiah 7:31 And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart.

Jeremiah 19:5 They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind:

Jeremiah 32:35 And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.

Ezekiel 23:37 That they have committed adultery, and blood is in their hands, and with their idols have they committed adultery, and have also caused their sons, whom they bare unto me, to pass for them through the fire, to devour them.

RajeshG's picture

Deut. 21:22 And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree:

23 His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

Scripture proves that God did not conform Himself to the cultural practices of the peoples of the Promised Land when He gave these laws because at least two wicked nations did not follow such a law.

First, the evil Philistines hanged the body of Saul to a wall and it remained there all night, which was contrary to the Law that God gave to Israel:

1 Sam. 31:8 And it came to pass on the morrow, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, that they found Saul and his three sons fallen in mount Gilboa.

9 And they cut off his head, and stripped off his armour, and sent into the land of the Philistines round about, to publish it in the house of their idols, and among the people.

10 And they put his armour in the house of Ashtaroth: and they fastened his body to the wall of Bethshan.

11 And when the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead heard of that which the Philistines had done to Saul;

12 All the valiant men arose, and went all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Bethshan, and came to Jabesh, and burnt them there.

13 And they took their bones, and buried them under a tree at Jabesh, and fasted seven days.

Second, the evil Gibeonites did not have and did not follow such a law. They allowed hanged bodies to remain either hanged or unburied or both for many, many days, which was contrary to the Law that God gave to Israel:

2 Samuel 21:8 But the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bare unto Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite:

9 And he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the hill before the Lord: and they fell all seven together, and were put to death in the days of harvest, in the first days, in the beginning of barley harvest.

10 And Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth, and spread it for her upon the rock, from the beginning of harvest until water dropped upon them out of heaven, and suffered neither the birds of the air to rest on them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night.

There is no Scriptural basis to hold that the wicked peoples of these evil nations ever would have buried the bodies of these who had been hanged and were either left hanging or unburied or both for extended periods of time.

Comparing Scripture to Scripture proves conclusively that God did not conform Himself to any cultural preferences when He gave His people the Law that He gave in Deut. 21:22-23. Rather, He gave them righteous laws that were distinct from the wicked laws and practices of other peoples in the Promised Land.

There is no Scriptural support for holding that God went along with the cultural practices of the peoples in the Promised Land when He gave the commands in Deut. 21:23.

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

If these people were so wicked that they devotedly burned living people in fire, there is no difficulty understanding that they also burned the dead bodies of people in fire. God did not need to mention cremation or condemn it because He mentioned something far worse that was exceedingly similar to it and because He denounced in the strongest possible terms that exceedingly wicked practice of the wicked peoples in the Promised Land.

This is a real stretch and a huge leap of logic. You're basically saying that because God condemns murder by fire, God must also condemn cremation. How is it that you figure cremation is "exceedingly similar" to murder?

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

First, the evil Philistines hanged the body of Saul to a wall and it remained there all night, which was contrary to the Law that God gave to Israel:

1 Sam. 31:8 And it came to pass on the morrow, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, that they found Saul and his three sons fallen in mount Gilboa.

9 And they cut off his head, and stripped off his armour, and sent into the land of the Philistines round about, to publish it in the house of their idols, and among the people.

10 And they put his armour in the house of Ashtaroth: and they fastened his body to the wall of Bethshan.

11 And when the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead heard of that which the Philistines had done to Saul;

12 All the valiant men arose, and went all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Bethshan, and came to Jabesh, and burnt them there.

13 And they took their bones, and buried them under a tree at Jabesh, and fasted seven days.

So in verse 12, the valiant men basically cremated the bodies and then buried the remains. Was it acceptable to God for them to burn the bodies first before burying the remains? The passage contains no condemnation of the burning of the bodies.

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:

 

If these people were so wicked that they devotedly burned living people in fire, there is no difficulty understanding that they also burned the dead bodies of people in fire. God did not need to mention cremation or condemn it because He mentioned something far worse that was exceedingly similar to it and because He denounced in the strongest possible terms that exceedingly wicked practice of the wicked peoples in the Promised Land.

 

This is a real stretch and a huge leap of logic. You're basically saying that because God condemns murder by fire, God must also condemn cremation. How is it that you figure cremation is "exceedingly similar" to murder?

I am going to copy this comment into the other thread and address it there because I want to move on to other aspects of the doctrinal importance of narratives in this thread.

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:

 

First, the evil Philistines hanged the body of Saul to a wall and it remained there all night, which was contrary to the Law that God gave to Israel:

1 Sam. 31:8 And it came to pass on the morrow, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, that they found Saul and his three sons fallen in mount Gilboa.

9 And they cut off his head, and stripped off his armour, and sent into the land of the Philistines round about, to publish it in the house of their idols, and among the people.

10 And they put his armour in the house of Ashtaroth: and they fastened his body to the wall of Bethshan.

11 And when the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead heard of that which the Philistines had done to Saul;

12 All the valiant men arose, and went all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Bethshan, and came to Jabesh, and burnt them there.

13 And they took their bones, and buried them under a tree at Jabesh, and fasted seven days.

 

So in verse 12, the valiant men basically cremated the bodies and then buried the remains. Was it acceptable to God for them to burn the bodies first before burying the remains? The passage contains no condemnation of the burning of the bodies.

I am going to copy this comment into the other thread and address it there because I want to move on to other aspects of the doctrinal importance of narratives in this thread.

RajeshG's picture

Previously in this thread, I have treated 6 biblical examples of how prescriptive commands were formulated from information that was from narratives.

This example is important in part because it is from a different writer of Scripture.

James 5:10 Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.

11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

James commands NT believers to learn how to suffer affliction and be patient from the examples of how the prophets who genuinely spoke in God's name suffered affliction and were patient. He then specifically cites Job as exemplary in that regard and points to God's wonderful dealings with him in the end.

The flow of thought from James 5:10-11 instructs us to regard Job as a prophet who spoke in the name of the Lord. That observation has important ramifications for how we are to interpret what he said in the book of Job.

More broadly, because James has commanded us to take the godly prophets who patiently endured sufferings as our examples, we must not go to narrative passages about the prophets and mishandle them by arguing that because they are merely "stories," we are only supposed to profit from whatever we determine to be the "main" point of each story.

Regardless of what we may determine (subjectively by necessity in many of the cases) the main points of those narrative accounts to be, James instructs us that we must also profit from those narratives for our learning how to suffer affliction and be patient in our sufferings. 

AndyE's picture

Larry wrote:
There are some places where the NT usage has no apparent relation to the exegesis of the OT text at hand. There are a wide variety of uses, only one of which is exegetical per se. On the general topic I commend to you this article by John Walton: https://tms.edu/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/tmsj13c.pdf

I think Walton makes some good points in his paper here. I think I pretty much agree with what he says regarding typology, symbolism, and fulfillment as those are all basically examples of revelation via inspiration.  I was less convinced with his role model section, but do agree that we need to be careful here, as this can be greatly abused (e.g., Gideon and decision making, which was an example from another article I read recently).  I would not have down-played 1 Cor 10:11 ("these things happened to them as examples...")  like he did.  His points about not needing to supply an answer to every question we may have about a text (i.e., what does this symbol mean? or was this action good or bad?) are well-taken and helpful.  At the same time, though, I've seen some commentators say there is no way to know what a certain thing means, only to find another lay out a pretty cogent argument for what it does mean that is both text-based and supportable.

I would also say that there are plenty of times when the NT authors really are just doing exegesis, and helping readers draw legitimate conclusions and applications form the text, just like we should all be able to do.  

RajeshG's picture

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