Class Warfare Blog

June 8, 2020

The “Biblical” Source of Our Western Traditions, Part 2 of 2

I ran out of gas on this response to a claim I read. Here is the second half of my response (after the repeat of the lead in). Steve

* * *

I have been reading another William G. Dever book “What Did the Biblical Writers Know & When Did They know It?” The title sounds like a Watergate catch phrase but the book was written in 2001, so. . . ?

Near the end of the book the author is commenting on the value of the Bible in our civilization/culture and he stated the following as being derived from the Bible:

  1. The absolute worth of the individual (the right of self-determination)
    2. The rule of law and justice (democracy)
    3. The immutable authority of morality (virtue)
    4. Liberty and justice as the foundations of politics (public morality)
    5. A free, entrepreneurial market
    6. The power of mind to dominate nature and grasp truth of higher order (science)
    7. Government as ordained (the rule of law and order)
    8. The importance of tradition and meaning (religious and cultural values)
    9. History as purposeful (progress)
    10. Universalism as the ultimate goal (triumphalism).

Of these Dever states that we take “for granted the following notions and cultural values, nearly all of them derived from one or another interpretation of the Hebrew Bible. . . .” (Emphasis added.

Interestingly, I have owned dozens of Bibles and I must not have got the one he is drawing from.)

Finishing, Finishing

  1. The power of mind to dominate nature and grasp truth of higher order (science)
    So, human beings would never have figured this out had it not been for the Bible? really? What did humans do for the 200,000 years before the Bible was written? Apparently not dominating nature and not grasping truths of higher order. So, the evidence that over ten thousand years ago, American native peoples didn’t use fire as a means of controlling the forage available to their prey animals. And they didn’t stampede prey animals into cul-de-sacs to slaughter them. Nor did any of those people have any religious thoughts at all, despite the burial process we have uncovered, and ritual spaces that were built? I am gob-smacked at this claim. Even after the Bible was written New World peoples used extensive irrigation systems to grow crops, built massive public works, cleared square miles of jungle to plant crops, established mail systems, etc, And they did it all without the guidance of the Bible . . . it’s a miracle!
  2. Government as ordained (the rule of law and order)
    Let’s see . . . to ordain means “order or decree (something) officially” so you cannot even have anything ordained until you have something like a government (theocratic or not) to do the deed. I presume this is a reference to a secular government being ordained by a religious government, as when the Israelites begged Yahweh to give them a king. Basically this seems to be the ability of religions to form governments. This doesn’t sound like the “rule of law and order,” this sounds like a thing guise of oppression. In other words, “we get to do to you want we want because God has ordained us to be able to do that.” This is the source of the divine rights of kings and, gee, I just don’t know how we would have gotten to our western civ without those wastrel, vicious kings.
  3. The importance of tradition and meaning (religious and cultural values)
    What? People didn’t transmit their culture, by indoctrinating their children until the Bible told them to or okayed the process? All of those rites of passage of prehistoric people were, what, unauthorized at best? People didn’t think traditions were important before the Bible? People didn’t imply meaning all over the place before the Bible? You know, hijacking is now a crime.
  4. History as purposeful (progress)
    Wow, I just don’t know how we get on in our day-to-day lives without knowing that our history was purposeful. In the US alone, all of those “settlers” (a disgusting euphemism for “conquerors”) were motivated by bring the word of god to the heathens. Greed for land and natural resources had nothing to do with it. History is not written by the victors then, it is simply the way that Biblical purposes play out. We are all just pawns to history writ large. What a crock of baloney. History is purposeful . . . what a concept! I guess those who claimed that “Progress was their most important product” were right in that they were just making it up . . . as a product . . . which we now call propaganda.
  5. Universalism as the ultimate goal (triumphalism). So, Genghis Khan’s desire to conquer the world was Biblical? Alexander the Great . . . him, too? So, our ultimate goal as participants in “Western Civilization” is to bring every other country into the fold? Is that true? The Bible’s stated goal of having the Jews rule the entire world is quite apparent. (This is what Yahweh promises.) The Catholic Church also that that particular goal, as does Islam. Gosh, don’t you think we would all be better off if that goal didn’t exist at all? This is hardly a good thing, you know.

* * *

I happen to like this author’s works (I have only read two) but this list is beyond the pale. These are the defining characteristics of Western Civilization . . . and they all come from the Bible? If that is the case, why is it that the longer a country is part of the Big WC, the less religious it becomes? That doesn’t seem to be a Biblically sourced idea, now does it?

 

 

13 Comments »

  1. I share your frustration with writers like this. I haven’t read the book and I certainly won’t bother doing so after reading your critique of it. I’m surprised you managed to make it through it.

    Like

    Comment by grouchyfarmer — June 8, 2020 @ 11:12 am | Reply

    • By and large it was an honest balanced look at the topic, focussing on how archeology can help. He bent over backward to allow for all kinds of interpretations of period literature and was, I believe just in those actions. This was a very small part of the book’s entire contents and maybe he was getting tired, or these things have been “transmitted wisdom” for so long, that his judgment slipped a bit. Or he may think about those things entirely differently than do I. It is conceivable that the Bible was the transmission mode for some of those concepts, but I wonder if even some of those concepts are really part of Western Civ. I think “triumphalism” is an aspect of any fairly large social organization (Google? Microscoft for several decades but no longer).

      On Mon, Jun 8, 2020 at 11:12 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

      >

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — June 8, 2020 @ 11:33 am | Reply

  2. Just a polite Heads Up, Steve. It’s William not Michael.

    I agree with your closing paragraph. Dever’s conclusions are odd to say the least. Maybe he went a bit off the rails when he became Jewish?

    Like

    Comment by Arkenaten — June 8, 2020 @ 11:25 am | Reply

    • Thanks … egad. The book is sitting right next to my keyboard! How bad is that!

      On Mon, Jun 8, 2020 at 11:25 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

      >

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — June 8, 2020 @ 11:34 am | Reply

      • It happens ….

        Like

        Comment by Arkenaten — June 8, 2020 @ 11:42 am | Reply

        • Sock it to me … ?!! (Ricahrd Nixon) I hate typos and everything I publish has them as I cannot afford proofreaders/copy editors/etc. I … hate … typos!!! (Mistakes,too!)

          On Mon, Jun 8, 2020 at 11:42 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

          >

          Liked by 1 person

          Comment by Steve Ruis — June 8, 2020 @ 11:46 am | Reply

          • Sometimes better to type and edit/spellcheck (longer) posts in Word.

            Like

            Comment by Arkenaten — June 8, 2020 @ 11:49 am | Reply

            • I produce all of my posts in Word. Spell Checking is routine, but it only finds about 60% of spelling errors (and it doesn’t ask if I got a name wrong).

              When I paste them into WordPress, I get a second go at spell checking, but Word’s spell checker is one of the very best, so I don’t often catch much that way.

              On Mon, Jun 8, 2020 at 11:49 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

              >

              Like

              Comment by Steve Ruis — June 8, 2020 @ 1:02 pm | Reply

    • All fixed … thank you, thank you, thank you!

      On Mon, Jun 8, 2020 at 11:25 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

      >

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — June 8, 2020 @ 11:36 am | Reply

  3. I haven’t read the book & I doubt I ever do but I will make the assumption that the dude who wrote it is a Christian so he has to make every accomplishment in the world a product of the Bible, whether or not that’s true. I know plenty of Christians who are JUST LIKE THAT. & even when you produce facts to the contrary, they refuse to believe it. Cuz … ya know, the Bible is the only TRUTH. What-evah!

    Like

    Comment by silverapplequeen — June 9, 2020 @ 6:47 am | Reply

    • Actually, I think he is agnostic. The book was mostly about archeology and history and whether the Bible had a role to play in it. I thought his positions were very well thought out and fair. It is just in this place where I found these assertions to be, well strange, and out of context. Note that these were supposed benefits from the Hebrew Bible, which many Chrsitians say has been superseded by the New Testament.

      On Tue, Jun 9, 2020 at 6:47 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

      >

      Like

      Comment by Steve Ruis — June 9, 2020 @ 7:14 am | Reply

      • which many Chrsitians say has been superseded by the New Testament. … And you know, of course, that “Chrsitians” are never wrong. 😋

        Like

        Comment by Nan — June 9, 2020 @ 11:27 am | Reply

        • Forgive them, they know not what they do … and bashing them is too easy, Nan. we have to elevate our game … and, if we can, their game, too.

          On Tue, Jun 9, 2020 at 11:27 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

          >

          Liked by 1 person

          Comment by Steve Ruis — June 9, 2020 @ 11:52 am | Reply


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: