Τρίτη, 25 Σεπτεμβρίου 2012

Review-The Pre-Nicene New Testament

The Pre-Nicene New Testament

By Dr. Robert M. Price

Reviewed by Acharya S

The first word that comes to mind when reading Dr. Robert M. Price's opus The Pre-Nicene New Testament is "massive." It is a massive undertaking, a massive amount of research and a massive volume of writing, comprising over 1200 pages. With TPNNT, Price has produced a book that could literally serve as a weapon in the pummeling of logic into the human mind. To review properly such an enormous and effective endeavor could in itself constitute the pursuit of a lifetime. Having said that - somewhat in jest - I have nonetheless put pen to paper to provide a proper analysis of a worthy effort.
There can be little doubt that Dr. Price is one of the leading luminaries in New Testament studies, bringing with him not only an impressive amount of erudition but also a fresh perspective of an old and festering dilemma, which is the probable condition of the New Testament prior to the First Council of Nicene in 325 AD/CE. Price does well to start off his exegesis of some 54 early Christian texts, both canonical and non, with a discussion of Christian bishop and Gnostic "heretic" Marcion (c. 110-160 CE), as it is universally accepted that Marcion was the first producer of a "New Testament" canon. Indeed, in between Price's impressive translations of these texts, as well as in the footnotes, appear nuggets of material that help fill out the overall thesis of the work: To wit, the pre-Nicene New Testament essentially originated with Marcion, as was related in ancient times. This fact I also asserted in The Christ Conspiracy (1999), following the scholarship of other individuals over the centuries. Using virtually entirely different sources, including foreign-language sources as well, Price comes to the same logical conclusion. Why? Because this fascinating area of study is evidently more widespread and these facts more well known than mainstream academia lets on.
When these facts are clearly understood, it becomes abundantly evident that, rather than representing a free-flowing transmission of mystical and divine origin, the New Testament is a highly contrived text worked over numerous times for the specific purpose of establishing iron-clad dogma and doctrine. Fortunately, with this Marcionite recognition, the deconstruction and resurrection of the NT is all downhill from here, which is, of course, not to say that Price doesn't have his work cut out for him in disentangling centuries of intricately and often badly woven webs. Knowing such facts, one is struck by the gargantuan responsibility of possessing vision clear enough to see the project both as a whole and in its myriad details as well.
I did find myself perplexed at Price's definitive statements as to what Marcion thought, felt and believed as he created and circulated the first New Testament, particularly since we do not possess any original writings of the man in which he thus expressed himself. In my own studies, I did not gather several of the impressions Price did regarding Marcion, particularly since the pertinent data are not composed of Marcion's own writing and words but constitute reportage from his detractors and enemies. Hence, we are on shaky ground as to what Marcion truly thought, felt and believed. In any event, although I am uncertain as to these speculative conclusions, I was intrigued enough to let the evidence brought to light by Price speak for itself. Naturally, the pursuit is quite fruitful, as Price immediately steps into risky territory by making numerous other definitive statements that turn the orthodox history of the formation of the canon on its ear.
First of all, while discussing the non-canonical Christian texts that were presumably considered in some circles also to be divinely inspired, when Price emphasizes that the history of the formation of the New Testament canon is underestimated in importance, he is not exaggerating. For example, upon inspection the various Nag Hammadi texts must not be dismissed merely as the weird rantings of some bizarre Gnostic sect, as they were evidently as "orthodox" as any others prior to the decrees of Pope Athanasius of Alexandria in 367 AD/CE. These texts, then, must be factored into what constituted early Christianity, not just as examples of Gnosticism or even as "Gnostic Christianity." The fact that they were hidden indicates their concealers were squarely considered part of the Christian church and only "heretical" if they had belligerently retained these texts. Many of Price's conclusions, such as that the canonical Gospel of John itself was likely a Gnostic text, will come as a surprise to some, but such assertions are based on logic founded upon the evidence, not on irrational and prejudicial belief with no scientific basis. Concerning John's gospel, Price writes: "As for the vexing question of gospel authorship, we may immediately dismiss the claim that it was one of the twelve disciples of Jesus." (p. 667)
Other of Price's more interesting and surprising conclusions appear under the section exploring the date and authorship of the Gospel of Mark, concerning which Price states:
Like the other gospels, Mark seems to come from the mid-second century CE.Probably the crucial piece of evidence for dating the book is the Olivet Discourse, or the Little Apocalypse as Timothee Colani dubbed it, constituting chapter 13 of the gospel. It appears to have been an independent apocalyptic pamphlet circulating on the eve of the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and its temple. Mark picked it up and made it part of his text; but which destruction and which temple were portrayed? As Hermann Detering has shown, the warnings of dangers and dooms outlined in the text fit better the destruction of city and temple during the Roman campaign against the messianic King Simon bar-Kochba in CE 136 than in CE 70 as is usually assumed. This means that Mark has absorbed an earlier document that already stemmed from the third of the second century CE. (p. 69) (Emphasis added.)
Thus, the suggestion arises that the gospel of Mark - considered by many to be the earliest of the canonical gospels - must have been composed after the destruction of 135 CE. In supporting this late dating of the canonical gospels, Price cites various anachronisms within Mark, such as "the depiction of synagogues scattered throughout Galilee when in fact they seem to have been largely confined to Judea before 70 CE…" (pp. 69-70)
Dr. Price further makes the startling but logical connection between the "heretic" Marcion and the evangelist Mark. In his association of Marcion with Mark, Price comments:
We may also note the clear Marcionite tendency of the gospel, with its unremittingly scathing portrayal of the disciples of Jesus as utter failures to carry on the Christian legacy. Indeed, it is not unlikely the subsequent choice of the ascription "Mark" reflects the name of Marcion, the early-to-mid second century champion of Paulinism. (p. 70)
It is interesting that the word for "Mark" in Greek is Markos and in Latin Marcus, the latter being the name of "three leading Gnostics," one of whom is depicted by Church father Adamantius (4thcent.) as a Marcionite defender. Moreover, in his Dialogue Adamantius concurred with the assertion of early Church father and bishop Papias (fl. c. 130 CE) that the evangelist Mark had never heard or been a follower of Christ. (Catholic Encyclopedia, "St. Mark")
After discussing the connection and confusion between the New Testament characters Simon Peter and Simon Magus, Price clarifies this suggestion of a Marcionite derivation for the gospel of Mark:
This need not mean that Marcion the Paulinist was himself the author of the present gospel, but it very likely does preserve the memory of the Marcionite/Gnostic milieu in which it was written. A better candidate for authorship would be Basilides, a Gnostic who claimed to be the disciple of Glaukias, interpreter of Simon Peter, unless this too was a confusion with Simon Magus/Paul. (p. 70)
This theory of Mark being a product of the early Gnostic Basilides (fl. c. 120-140 AD/CE), rather than Marcion himself, may explain why Marcion's Gospel of the Lord differs from that of Mark, possessing more of a connection to the gospel of Luke. Indeed, several scholars and researchers over the centuries have posited that, rather than Marcion having "corrupted" Luke, as was charged by Church fathers such as Irenaeus (fl. 180 ad/ce), the author of Luke interpolated and edited Marcion's gospel. In another surprising move, after discussing a possible root text for Luke, an "Ur-Lukas" that possessed the same function of its more famous cousin "Ur-Markus," Price mentions research demonstrating a possible authorship by the early Church father Polycarp (69-155 CE). (p. 498)
Hence, Price shows that the canonical gospels date from a much later era than is currently believed, from the mid-second century in his analysis - and that their authors were in no way eyewitnesses to the events, apostles or disciples of apostles, as they are purported to be. These facts are not only singularly astounding to the average person but, after examining all the evidence, they clearly represent the only sensible starting point from which we may progress in order to discover who really wrote the gospels.
Price thus lifts the New Testament puzzle out of its current historical milieu, where it has always been ill-fitting, and places it smack dab in the next century, where it fits much better. A few things are still out of joint, but unraveling such a phantasmagoria as the NT has always proved itself too much for any one individual, no matter the intelligence or erudition.
In reality, despite all the wishful thinking of conservative Christian scholars and writers, the fact will remain that the canonical gospels do not clearly emerge in the historical/ literary record until after the Marcionite New Testament around the middle of the second century, a fact that I have discussed in detail in my books The Christ ConspiracySuns of God (2004), andWho Was Jesus? (2007).
As concerns his impressive and significant translations of the texts that make up the pre-Nicene New Testament, Price employs an innovative and clever technique of translating the words "God" and "Lord" as, for example, "Adonai" and "El Elyon," so as to distinguish between God and Jesus. (p. 72) Moreover, Price's writing is witty and engaging enough that what could be deemed a dull subject matter becomes more interesting to many, especially specialists in New Testament history.
In the final analysis, Dr. Robert Price's translations of the pre-Nicene New Testament are important and worthy of study by all parties interested in the history of the New Testament, New Testament scholarship, and subtle but germane meanings associated with the "original" texts as best they can be reproduced.
All in all, I enjoyed reading The Pre-Nicene New Testament, as, again, in addition to Price's intriguing rendition of the NT texts themselves, the book possesses gems of interesting data in the commentaries and footnotes along the way. I was also pleased by the unusual "bibliographic essay" at the end - particularly since Price mentions me and my book Suns of God:
Acharya S (Suns of God, 2004) rehabilitated the older approach of boiling all mythology down to ancient sun worship and astrology as the only way of accounting for the global, ancient, spontaneous occurrence of the same mythemes, rituals, and symbols. It must have been a way of representing something everyone could see, not needing to borrow from other cultures. (p. 1179)
While this synopsis of my work could use clarification, I appreciate the nod, Bob - and thanks also for the rest of your hard work in The Pre-Nicene New Testament.

Luke 19:27

Religious intolerance in the Christian Scriptures (New Testament)

In Luke 19, ending the Parable of the Talents

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The setting:

In the Parable of the Talents in Luke 19:12-26 and Matthew 25:14-30, the Gospel authors describe a parable that they attribute to Jesus. It involves a nobleman entrusting money to his slaves before he left on a trip. Two slaves used their shares to invest wisely. They doubled the money by the time that their owner returned, and were rewarded. A third slave was afraid of losing his share. He buried it for safekeeping, and was punished.
The parable in Matthew leads into the well known passage in Matthew 25 where Jesus judges the people of all nations, separating them into the "sheep" and "goats" on the basis of their good works or lack of good works, such as: feeding the hungry, giving drinks to the thirsty, supporting the stranger, clothing the naked, and visiting the sick and imprisoned.
The mirrored parable in Luke ends with a verse in which Jesus calls for the murder of those who do not follow him:
Luke 19:27 says:
"But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me."
This is a curious verse. It and verse 14 ("But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.") seem to have been tacked onto the parable as an afterthought. Both verses seem unrelated to the contents of the parable itself. Deleting them makes the parable run more smoothly.
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Interpretation of Luke 19:27 in various handbooks and commentaries:

bulletMany commentaries and study Bibles such as the Hayford's Bible Handbook, the Geneva Study Bible, the Scofield Bible, and Wesley's Notes on the Bible describe the contents of the parable from verses 12 to 26 but simply ignore verse 27.
bulletMatthew Henry's Concise Commentary states:
"19:11-27 This parable is like that of the talents, Mt 25. Those that are called to Christ, he furnishes with gifts needful for their business; and from those to whom he gives power, he expects service. The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal, 1Co 12:7. And as every one has received the gift, so let him minister the same, 1Pe 4:10. The account required, resembles that in the parable of the talents; and the punishment of the avowed enemies of Christ, as well as of false professors, is shown."
bulletMatthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible states:
"When his faithful subjects are preferred and rewarded, then he will take vengeance on his enemies, and particularly on the Jewish nation, the doom of which is here read. When Christ had set up his gospel kingdom, and thereby put reputation upon the gospel ministry, then he comes to reckon with the Jews; then it is remembered against them that they had particularly disclaimed and protested against his kingly office, when they said, We have no king but Caesar, nor would own him for their king. They appealed to Caesar, and to Caesar they shall go; Caesar shall be their ruin. Then the kingdom of God appeared when vengeance was taken on those irreconcilable enemies to Christ and his government; they were brought forth and slain before him. ... Utter ruin will certainly be the portion of all Christ's enemies; in the day of vengeance they shall all be brought forth, and slain before him. Bring them hither, to be made a spectacle to saints and angels. ... Bring them, and slay them before me, as Agag before Samuel. The Saviour whom they have slighted will stand by and see them slain, and not interpose on their behalf. Those that will not have Christ to reign over them shall be reputed and dealt with as his enemies. We are ready to think that none are Christ's enemies but persecutors of Christianity, or scoffers at least; but you see that those will be accounted so that dislike the terms of salvation, will not submit to Christ's yoke, but will be their own masters. Note, Whoever will not be ruled by the grace of Christ will inevitably be ruined by the wrath of Christ."
bulletThe Interpreter's one-volume Commentary on the Bible interprets this passage as referring to the attack on and destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE by the Roman Army. The authors state that:
"Those who oppose the kingly power of Jesus will be destroyed. These are the Jerusalem leaders whose rejection of the Messiah seals the fate of their city."
This interpretation uses a common theme that runs through the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation: that of transferability of sin. The Commentary suggests that the sins of the leaders of Jerusalem would be transferred to all of the other occupants of the city, and that all would be punished with death.
bulletThe Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary states:
"27. bring hither, &c.-(Compare 1Sa 15:32, 33). Referring to the awful destruction of Jerusalem, but pointing to the final destruction of all that are found in open rebellion against Christ."
bulletThe New Commentary on the Whole Bible interprets the verse as:
"... referring to the awful destruction of Jerusalem, but pointing to the final destruction of all that are found in open rebellion against Christ. ... The last verse of the parable predicts a curse that is to come upon the enemies of Christ."
bulletThe New Jerome Biblical Commentary states:
"The imagery of destruction for those who refused to accept the king shows that accepting God's rule over oneself is a great moment of decision. Unfortunately, some decided against the life that King Jesus brings. The Christological import of this parable is profound: Jesus, the king, has a decisive role in human destiny, for responses to him determine life and death."
bulletThe People's New Testament states:
"This portrays the fate, not of church members, but of those who would not have the Lord reign over them. It embraces all the impenitent. Compare Mt 13:49 21:44 25:30:00 2Th 1:8-10." 1
There is no indication of religious freedom here. There is no possibility of forgiveness, mercy, or tolerance towards those with different beliefs. There is no repetition here of the "love thine enemies" found in Matthew 5:44 and Luke 6:27. Instead, we have a "show them no mercy" type of policy as in Deuteronomy 7:1-2. (NIV).
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Comments from books and Internet web sites:

Interpretations differ. Some feel that the verse:
bulletRefers to the extermination or eternal torture in Hell of the unsaved when Jesus returns to Earth, or
bulletIs a lie on the part of the author of the Gospel of Luke when he attributed verse 27 to Jesus, or
bulletDoes not relate to God at all, or
bulletDescribes Jesus as an evil tyrant and monster, or
bulletDoes not say for Christians to kill the unsaved, or
bulletIs a call by Jesus to commit genocide against the unsaved.
It seems to be a favorite verse that both saved individuals and skeptics use to attack each other.
A sampling of opinions:
bulletThe Jesus Walk® Bible Study Series states:
"This seems pretty strong. The word translated "kill" is Greek katasphazo, 'slaughter, strike down.' ...The listeners in Jericho recalled how King Archelaus slaughtered his enemies, and recognized how the parable was true to life.
"... you are God's enemy when you set your will against his and refuse to use productively what he has given you. That is a dangerous place in which to stand, as an enemy of God."
"Ultimately, this parable is not about the present. It is eschatological and applies to the time of Christ's Return. If you sense in yourself laziness or rebelliousness against God, there's still time to repent and change your heart -- but you can only count on 'today' in which to do that." 2
bulletThe Jesus Seminar accepted most of the parable as "Pink: Jesus probably said something like this." But its members rate verse 27 as "Black: "Jesus did not say this; it represents the perspective or content of a later or different tradition." That is, it is not a teaching of Jesus. It probably represents the theology of the group to which the author of the Gospel of Luke belonged, or to which a later copyist belonged. 3
bullet"Tomsims" responded to a question on AnswerBag.com about the interpretation of verse 27. He wrote:
"Jesus was employing the use of fiction, specifically a parable to show how harshly earthly rulers deal with servants who do not show a return on what is entrusted in them - for the purpose of teaching that God expects nothing less from our stewardship as a much more gracious sovereign. ... He was showing that with a great gift, such as the knowledge of truth, there comes a great responsibility to invest ourselves and our knowledge into others. That is my understanding. The treatment of the 'enemies' is part of the backdrop of the story but is not employed to describe God's ways." 4
bulletSkeptic Gary DeVanye writes:
"What moral lesson did Jesus teach in Luke 19:27? Jesus' moral parable explains to you that if you don't allow Jesus Christ to be your King, authority, ruler, over you, you are to be slain. Jesus' parallel lesson in Luke 19:27 is: If you don't accept Jesus Christ as your savior, you will suffer eternal torment. What moral lessons! What an evil tyrant! What a monster!" ...
"What was Jesus’ specific moral point of the parable? It was to teach you that if you do not follow, serve and obey Jesus / God, you would suffer eternal-damnation. That’s even more disgusting and cruel than just slaying you." ...

"If you don’t convert to Christianity and, in essence, make Jesus Christ king over you, you will go to Hell. The parable fits Jesus being the unnamed nobleman / King. What other known king could it be? Every C&V points to Jesus Christ and no one else." ...

"I view that Jesus Christ stated this parable about Himself. It dramatically displays the cruelty that He, as God, projects for those God sends to Hell-Fire / Eternal-Damnation or expiration. That is the parallel agenda that makes it a documented parable." 5
bullet"Mortgagegirl101" responded to a question in Yahoo! Answers whether Jesus calls for a Christian holy war in verse 27. She replied:
"That particular passage was in fact part of a parable of a rich man who was speaking of his servants. He had given them gold to keep until his return from a distant land and was talking about his return and how 2 of the servants had invested the gold and increased it and the 3rd had not. This is not Jesus talking of how to treat people who believe not in him.

In fact he said to simply shake the dust from your feet of the places where people will not listen to the teachings. Never did he say to kill them." 6
bullet"Anatheist" writes:
"When I first quoted these words of Jesus, I was taken to task by several noteleavers. They thought that I'd taken these words completely out of context. They charged that Jesus was actually quoting somebody else and that we simply mustn't think that he would ever urge us to do anything as impolite as slay his enemies - oh, no no no!"

Never mind that it's not clear that he was, in fact, quoting anybody else. Never mind that - if he was quoting someone else - he certainly seems to have been quoting them approvingly. If he actually meant to say, "Hey! DON'T be slaying my enemies now!" he chose a pretty odd way of expressing it." 7
Anatheist quotes a book by Jaroslav Pelikan 8 that describes Thomas Muentzer, a famous 16th century Christian minister and Reformation leader. Muentzer cited Luke 19:27 in a sermon calling for a Christian revolution and holy war.
He also quotes a book by Richard and Joan Ostling's 9 that describes a sermon by Joseph Smith on Matthew's version of the Parable of the Talents. Smith indicated that the passage relates to polygyny (plural marriage). A man with multiple wives will be blessed by God; a man with only one wife will have his existing blessings removed.
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  1. Bible Commenter at: ttp://wes.biblecommenter.com/
  2. Dr. Ralph F. Wilson, "#84. Parable of the Pounds (Luke 19:11-27)," Jesus Walk® Bible Study Series, at: http://www.jesuswalk.com/
  3. Robert W. Funk, et al.: "The Five Gospels: The Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus; What did Jesus really say?" Pages 36 & 374
  4. "Books of the Christian Bible," Answer Bag,  2007-AUG-04, at: http://www.answerbag.com/
  5. Gary DeVaney, "The Controversial Luke 19:27," at: http://www.thegodmurders.com/
  6. "Does jesus call for a christian jihad..." Yahoo! Answers, at: http://answers.yahoo.com/
  7. Anatheist, "Lesson Twenty Two: Luke 19:27, at: http://www.geocities.com/
  8. Jaroslav Pelikan, "Jesus Through the Centuries," Pages 174-175.
  9. Richard and Joan Ostling, "Mormon America," Pages 66-67.


Bible passages-Mass murder and genocide and mass infanticide

Bible passages that appear immoral today

Part 2 of 5: Mass murder and genocide

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Topics covered in this essay:

bulletActs of mass murder and genocide:
bulletThe flood of Noah
bulletGenocide of the residents of Canaan
bulletGenocide of the Geshurites, Gezirites, and Amalekites

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The flood of Noah:

Genesis 6:5-9:
"And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God."
God is described as having created the earth, mankind, other living things, and the rest of the universe in the early chapters of Genesis. But he apparently was unable to foresee the future behavior of his creations. In particular, He did not predict the degree of wickedness that mankind would exhibit. He regretted his decision to create mankind. So he decided to commit the ultimate act of genocide, by murdering the entire human race: men, women, children, infants and newborns. God decided to exterminate people by drowning - a slow and painful way to die. He allowed Noah to survive, along with Noah's wife, his three sons and their wives. But the Bible states that the rest of the human race were wiped out, including young children and infants who had not reached the age of accountability.
In the 20th century, the most serious acts of genocide involved less than 1% of the human population. Examples are: the extermination of the Armenian minority in Turkey, the extermination of Jews, Roma (Gypsies) and others by the Nazis, the extermination of the ethnic Albanians by the Serbs in Kosovo in the former Yugoslavia. The perpetrators have become the most hated of people. But the genocide resulting from the great flood is far more serious. It is recorded as having destroyed over 99% of the human race, leaving only eight humans alive.
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Genocide of the residents of Canaan:

The Israelites invaded Canaan and, under God's instructions, exterminated seven nations in widespread acts of genocide: the Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites,  Hivites, and Jebusites. They continued to commit genocide against other groups.
Deuteronomy 7:1-2:
"... the seven nations greater and mightier than thou; And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them."
Joshua 6:21:
"And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.
This latter passage describes one event in the invasion of Canaan by the ancient Israelites. After the walls of the city of Jericho fell, the soldiers ran into the city, and murdered all its inhabitants: elderly men and women, mature men and women, pregnant women, youths, boys, girls, infants and newborns. Their goal was to entirely wipe out the Canaanite culture by destroying its people; this is one definition of genocide. Incidentally, the people were butchered by the edge of the sword, because the weapons did not have pointed ends.
Joshua 10:40-41:
"So Joshua smote all the country of the hills, and of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs, and all their kings: he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel commanded. And Joshua smote them from Kadesh-barnea even unto Gaza, and all the country of Goshen, even unto Gibeon." 
As recorded in Joshua 11:19-23, God had "hardened the hearts" of the Canaanites, so that all but one city attempted to fight the Hebrews in battle. The sole exception were the Hivites, the inhabitants of Gibeon. "As the LORD commanded Moses", all of the rest were defeated in battle; their cities and populations were destroyed. This included people of all ages: men, women children, infants and newborns.
Genocides and other extreme atrocities are recorded in:
bulletGenesis 19: - Cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for being:
bulletUncharitable to their widows, children and poor
bulletAbusive to strangers.
More details [BELOW]

bulletJoshua 8:24 - City of Ai
bulletJoshua 10:26 - Joshua murdered five defenseless kings of the Amorites in cold blood.
bulletJoshua 10:28 - City of Makkedah
bulletJoshua 10:29 - City of Libnah
bulletJoshua 10:31 - City of Lachish
bulletJoshua 10:33 - City of Gezer "...Joshua smote him and his people until he had left him none remaining."
bulletJoshua 10:34 - City of Elgon "They left none remaining."
bulletJoshua 10:37 - City of Hebron
bulletJoshua 10:38 - City of Debir
bulletNumbers 21:2-3 - City of Hormah
bulletNumbers 21:33-35: Land of Bashan "...they smote him, and his sons, and all his people, until there was none left him alive: and they possessed his land."
bulletDeuteronomy 2:21-24: The Ammonite, Horim, and Avim people.
bulletDeuteronomy 2:26-35 - Land of Heshbon "...we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain.
bulletJudges 4:16 - City of Sisera
Acts of genocide are condemned by all religions and secular groups and by the international community. 
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Genocide of the Geshurites, Gezirites, and Amalekites:

1 Samuel 27:8-9:
"And David and his men went up, and invaded the Geshurites, and the Gezrites, and the Amalekites ... And David smote the land, and left neither man nor woman alive, and took away the sheep, and the oxen, and the asses, and the camels, and the apparel. And David saved neither man nor woman alive"
The Living Bible translates verse 9 as saying "They didn't leave one person alive." David and his men apparently stole the animals and clothing, while killing all the people: the elderly, men, women, youths, children, infants and newborns.

About the biblical story of Sodom & Gomorrah: 

Genesis 19

Why did God destroy the
city of Sodom & its people?

What was the sin of Sodom according to Genesis 19?

The text of Genesis 19 implies that God approved of Lot's behavior, even though he made an offer of his virgin daughters to be raped. This approval would have been extended to Lot's family as well. But God apparently had a fierce anger directed at the other inhabitants of the town. He destroyed Sodom with fire and brimstone (sulfur) dumped from above. According to the story, he killed all of the men and women of Sodom, as well as all the innocent children, infants, newborns, etc. who lived in the city. This is one more example of a theme that runs throughout the Bible from Genesis to Revelation: transferring the punishment from guilty people to innocent people. This is commonly called "scapegoating" and is condemned in all major religions.
It is unclear from this brief passage in Genesis why God demolished the city. The following theories  have been advanced.
The people of Sodom:
  1. Engaged in consensual homosexual acts -- a same-sex orgy in this case. This is the belief of most conservative Christians. This option seems unlikely because:
    • Genesis 19:5 said that all of the men (perhaps all of the people) of Sodom formed the mob at Lot's house and demanded to "know" the angels. The percentage of homosexuals in a typical group of male adults is generally around 5%, not 100%.
    • Also, Lot had lived in the city for some years and would have know if all of the men were homosexuals; he would hardly have offered to sacrifice his daughters to the mob if the men were entirely homosexual.
    • Finally, as noted above, if the men of Sodom were all homosexuals, there would be few if any children and widows in the city as are mentioned elsewhere in the Bible.
  2. Were uncharitable and abusive to strangers, the poor, sick, and disadvantaged. In that society, a person had a very strong obligation to protect any guests in their home. Many liberal Christians believe that this is the meaning behind the story of the destruction of Sodom. This belief has considerable support in themany other references to Sodom in the Bible and Jewish literature.
  3. Wanted to humiliate their visitors by engaging in "an act of sexual degradation and male rape...These are acts of violence that are committed by parties seeking to show their hatred for those they are degrading. It is not an act of love or of caringSome theologians suggest that the sin of Sodom was the threat of mass rape.
  4. Wanted to engage in bestiality -- having sex with members of another species. The mob may have wanted to rape the angels; angels are not human beings; they are of a different species. This would be consistent with the frequently mistranslated verse in Jude about the men of Sodom going after "other flesh" or "strange flesh."
  5. Wanted to adsorb the power of the angels: In ancient times, sacred sex was very common. People would engage in sexual intercourse with temple prostitutes who represented a god or goddess. By doing so, the people believed that they would receive a blessing from the deity. If the people of Sodom realized that angels sent by God were present in their city, the men of Sodom may have concluded that raping the angels might give them supernatural powers. 2

What were the sins of Sodom according to other biblical passages that refer to the city:

A common procedure in biblical apologetics is to let the Bible interpret itself. Looking elsewhere in the Bible for references to Sodom may help us determine which of the four above interpretations is correct.
The interpretation of Genesis 19 as referring to a homosexual sin appears to have been created in the 11th century by the Italian ascetic St. Peter Damian. 3Christian theologians generally accepted this explanation until recently. In fact, the English word sodomy, which popularly means either homosexual or heterosexual anal intercourse, was derived from the name of the city. The term "sodomy" is also used in some ancient laws to refer to a variety of sexual behaviors in addition to heterosexual intercourse. Some of these laws are still on the books although the U.S. Supreme Court declared them unconstitutional in 2003-JUN as part of its Lawrence v. Texas decision.
Opinion among most liberal and mainline Christian and Jewish theologians has now reverted to the original Christian belief that Genesis 19 refers to a lack of charity and to ill treatment of strangers. Consider:
bulletIn ancient Jewish literature, such as the Ethics of the Fathers and the Talmud, there are many references to Sodom. The phrase "middat Sdom" was used. It may be translated as "the way the people of Sodom thought". It meant a lack of charity and hospitality towards others; ignoring the needs of the poor, etc. In the Middle East, a person's survival could depend upon the charity of strangers. To help strangers was a solemn religious duty of paramount importance. See Leviticus 19:33-34 and Matthew 25:35, 38 and 43.
bulletIsaiah 1; The entire first chapter is an utter condemnation of Judah. They are repeatedly compared with Sodom and Gomorrah in their evildoing and depravity. Throughout the chapter, the Prophet lists many sins of the people: rebelling against God, lacking in knowledge, deserting the Lord, idolatry, engaging in meaningless religious ritual, being unjust and oppressive to others, being insensitive to the needs of widows and orphans, committing murder, accepting bribes, etc. There is no reference to homosexuality or to any other sexual activities at all.
bulletJeremiah 23:14:"...among the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen something horrible: They commit adultery and live a lie. They strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns from his wickedness. They are all like Sodom to me; the people of Jerusalem are like Gomorrah." Jeremiah compares the actions of the prophets with the adultery, lying and evil of the people of Sodom. Homosexual activity is not mentioned.
bulletEzekeiel 16:49-50:"Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen." God states clearly that he destroyed Sodom's sins because of their pride, their excess of food while the poor and needy suffered; sexual activity is not even mentioned.
bulletMatthew 10:14-15: Jesus implied that the sin of the people of Sodom was to be inhospitable to strangers.
bulletLuke 10:7-16: This is parallel passage to the verses from Matthew.
bullet2 Peter 6-8: Peter mentions that God destroyed the adults and children of Sodom because the former were ungodly, unprincipled and lawless.
bulletJude, Verse 7: Jude disagreed with Jesus and Ezekeiel; he wrote that Sodom's sins were sexual in nature. Various biblical translations of this passage in Jude describe the sin as: fornication, going after strange flesh, sexual immorality, perverted sensuality, homosexuality, lust of every kind, immoral acts andunnatural lust. It looks as if the translators were unclear of the meaning of the verse in its original Greek, and simply selected their favorite sin to attack. The original Greek is transliterated as: "sarkos heteras." This can be translated as "other flesh". Ironically, our English word "heterosexual" comes from "heteras."

A likely interpretation is that the author of Jude 4 criticized the men of Sodom for wanting to engage in sexual activities with angels. Angels are described in the Bible as a species of created beings who were different from humans. The sin of the people of Sodom would be that of bestiality. Another possibility is that the "other flesh" refers to cannibalism, which was a practice associated with early Canaanite culture. However, there is no mention in Genesis 19 about actually eating the angels.
On the other hand there are some passages which might imply that the sin of Sodom was homosexuality:
bulletJeremiah 49:18: Some conservative theologians have interpreted this verse as criticizing the inhabitants of Jerusalem for their sexual sins, and implying that they were like the men of Sodom.
bulletEzekeiel 16:50: Although the preceding verse describes Sodom's sins as pride, laziness, insensitivity to the needs of the poor, and haughtiness, verse 50 refers to the citizens of Sodom as having "committed abomination." The Hebrew word "to'ebah," translated here as "abomination," was used throughout the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) to refer to various ritually impure acts, such as Hebrews and Egyptians eating together, Hebrews eating lobster, shrimp, or snakes, sacrificing an animal in the temple that contained a blemish, women wearing men's clothing (e.g. pants), a man remarrying his former wife, etc. It was also used in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 to condemn same-sex activity between two males. It is not known which "abomination(s)" occurred in Sodom, but it could conceivably have been same-gender sexual activity.


The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
  1. Reb Gershon Caudill, "A Heterosexual Jewish Rebbe's View on the (Supposedly) Homosexual Texts in the Hebrew Bible," at: http://www.affirmation.org/
  2. "Elaine," "Sodom and Gomorrah," Gay Church, at: http://www.gaychurch.org/
  3. Father Basil Isaacs, "Proofx booklet", Fountain of Life Western Orthodox Church Catholic Mission. Available for $2.50 from 1928 E. Highland, Suite F104-142, Phoenix, AZ 85016.
  4. We refer to "the author of Jude" rather than use his name. This is because there is no consensus on the identity of the author. Conservative Christian theologians generally believe that the book was written by Jude, a brother of Jesus circa 67 to 73 CE. Liberal theologians generally believe that the author is unknown, and that the book was written some time after 100 CE.

Part 3 of 5: Murder of children

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Topics covered in this essay:

bulletMurder of children:
bulletIsaac (near ritual murder)
bulletThe first-born of Egypt
bullet42 little children
bulletAn entire family
bulletThe Midianite children
bulletBabies of Babylon
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The near ritual murder involving Isaac:

In Genesis 22:1-18, God decided to test the depth of Abraham's faith. God ordered Abraham to travel to the top of a mountain in the land of Moriah, and there murder his own son, Isaac, as a human sacrifice. At the last minute, after Abraham had immobilized Isaac and laid him on a makeshift alter, as he was about to stab his son to death, an angel appeared and ordered Abraham to stop. A ram which was caught in a thicket was used as a substitute for Isaac.
The passage assumes that God is not omniscient, because he did not know the depth of faith of Abraham without testing him in this way. The immorality of this story is the massive traumatic stress that both Isaac, his father, and mother experienced during this event. Compounding this is the willingness of a father to murder his own son. It is doubtful that either would have been able to function fully normally afterwards.
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Mass murder of the first-born of Egypt:

Exodus 7:3:
"...I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt."
Exodus 7:13-14:
"And he [God] hardened Pharaoh's heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said. And the LORD said unto Moses, Pharaoh's heart is hardened, he refuseth to let the people go."

Exodus 12:29-30:
 "And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead." 
God "hardened Pharaoh's heart" to prevent him from giving into the requests of Moses to release his people from slavery. Because God made the Egyptian ruler resistant to the idea of freeing the Israelites, the pharaoh ignored a variety of plagues. Finally, God killed the first born of all of the humans and cattle in Egypt, except for those of the Israelites who had ritually killed a male lamb and daubed its blood over the doorposts of their homes. The death toll must have been enormous, as every Pagan family was affected.
Mass murder of children is inexcusable by today's moral standards.
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Mass murder of 42 little children:

2 Kings 2:23-24:
"And he [Elisha] went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them."
Elisha, a Prophet, was ridiculed by some little children who called him a name like "old baldy". Elisha laid a curse on them in God's name. God appears to have responded to the curse by sending two bears out of the woods who tare (tore up, killed) 42 of the little children.
All countries, with the exception of the United States and a very few other states, prohibit capital punishment for youth offenders - no matter what their crime is. The U.S. at least waits until the convicted child is 18 before executing him or her. In this passage, God is seen to arrange the murder of dozens of small children for simply pointing fun at adult.
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Executing a whole family for the sins of the father:

Joshua 7:20-25:
"...Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel... And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor. And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones."
During the siege of Jericho, God had instructed Joshua to have the army avoid taking any loot from the city. Everything was to be destroyed. Only objects of silver and gold and utensils of bronze and iron were to be taken, and these were to be dedicated to God. Achan had violated these orders. He had taken and hidden a Babylonian robe, and a few thousand's of dollars worth of silver and gold. Because of Achan's sin, God allowed the Israelite army to be defeated in a battle for Ai, a small city close to Jericho. Many lives were lost. Achan confessed his sin. His punishment was death by stoning. Afterwards, his body was burned. But in addition to executing Achan, the Israelites stoned and burned his sons, his daughters, his animals and his tent. Apparently, his wife was already dead because she was not mentioned in this passage; otherwise she would have undoubtedly been murdered and burned as well.
There are three factors which are unacceptable by today's standards of morality:
bulletIn almost all of the developed world, with the exception of the U.S., capital punishment has been abandoned.
bulletEven where the death penalty is applied in the developed world, it is not used as punishment for theft.
bulletKilling of the thief's children for the crimes of the father is considered profoundly immoral.
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Mass murder of the Midianite children:

Numbers 31:1-18:
"...And they warred against the Midianites, as the Lord commanded Moses, and they slew all the [adult] males. And the children of Israel took all the women of Midian captives, and their little ones...And they brought the captives, and the prey, and the spoil, unto Moses...And Moses was angry with the officers of the host And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Ba'laam, to commit trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord. Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the female children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves."
On God's instructions, Moses sent 12,000 soldiers against the Midianites. The army allegedly killed every adult Midianite male. This is in response to some of the Israelite men having had sex with some of the Midianite women. Moses then ordered them to slaughter in cold blood most of the captives, including all of the boys, while saving only female virgins. The latter were apparently to be retained for purposes of rape. The Midianite mothers were thus punished by having to watch their male children murdered in front of them. Then, they were themselves killed. Verse 35 talks about 32,000 virgin captives; this implies that there were probably about 32,000 boys killed.
Fortunately, other passages in the Bible imply that the above genocide and mass murder never actually happened. If it did, then the entire Midian tribe would have been wiped out. All the males and many of the females had been killed. Any children that the female captives later had would not be regarded as Midianites. Yet, Judges 6:1 implies that in the course of a single lifetime, the Midianites went from being totally destroyed to becoming a nation once more. Further, they were strong enough to take the Israelite nation captive for 7 years.
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Mass murder of Babylonian babies:

In Psalms 137:8-9, God is asked to bless those who would bash Babylonian babies against stones in an act of mass infanticide.