"It's Time To Rewrite The Bible" - Bernard Boas

From Bernard Boas (Jewish psychologist) "It's Time To Rewrite The Bible" (Hudson; Hawthorn: 1994)

I also hold sacred the principles of knowledge and wisdom: they too are holy; they too are worthy of respect and reverence. p. 3

I hear my father's deep voice saying, "Read everything that comes to hand. Read and learn and then make up your own mind. This interpretation may not be the correct one; try others too and keep asking questions. Some of the things in there I think nobody will ever understand". Mother gently adds, "You can find all sorts of good things in the Bible, all sorts of things that will help you. We all have to learn to love others and to sort out the truth from the other things. Always think kindly about people and you won't go far wrong. At least, you will feel better about them, even if they don't always treat you fairly." ... Hear the echo - echo - echo of study and make up your own mind. p.10

The less conformist ways of expressing religious ideas encourage individual freedom, but may weaken the powers of the institutions in the society. p.14

The Hebrew used is ancient, is written without vowels, and has neither full stops not capital initial letters. the breaks between words are sometimes uncertain. Some sounds are not differentiated, such as S and SH, P and PH. If we write a short essay in this form in modern English, it might look like this:

t s{h}ntsy trd ncn brw js{h}{t rdng t s{h)qt hrd ngh p(h)ttngt nt ngls(h) s(h) mch hrdr fw trns(h)ltns(h) r nthng lk ccrt.

The original of this piece of gibberish was ....

It is not easy to read ancient Hebrew. Just reading it is quiote hard enough. Putting into English is much harder. Few translations are anything like accurate. p.32

In summary: the stories of the Torah were originally told in languages that may have been the dialects that Abraham and Moses spoke. p.34

Genesis 4:19-21, where we hear about the descendents of Cain. They include Jabal, the ancestor of all those who dwell in tents or amidst herds, and Jubal, who was the ancestor of all who play the lyre and the pipe. But the only survivors of the Great Flood were Noah and his family, the descendents of Seth, not of Cain. Yet there were clearly many herdsmen and musicians after the flood. p.40-41

The polar bear, the penguin and the platypus would not have been happy in Mesopotamia, and what were Adam's names for them? Did the wombat turn up at the roll-call and then make his ungainly way to Australia? p.45

God gave the Israelites detailed instructions on how to deal with the Canaanites, but not with the Babylonians, the Romans or the Nazis. p. 48

Laws which were described as 'for all time' had already been changed within the Biblical period. Are we to believe that the evolutionary process was supposed to stop then? p.48-49

In the earliest days (as the story of Cain and able tells us) God took sacrifices very seriously. ... By the end of the Biblical period the practice had been more or less abandoned. ... There is nothing in the text to suggest that this system[*of sacrifices] would ever be altered. There is constant repetition of the phrase 'This shall be the law for you for all time'. p.51-52

Numbers 21 contains a weird treatment for snake bite ... It seems strange that the divine Creator would instruct Moses to make the copper serpent and trust it to be the healer, after all the warnings He had delivered about making likenesses and idols. Some five centuries later, Hezekiah organised a campaign against idolatry, and amongst other things: ... broke into pieces the copper serpent that Moses had made, for until that time the Israelites had been making sacrifices to it; it was called Nehushtan. (2 Kings 18:4) Hezekiah rejected direct but ancient instructions from the Lord. Can we do the same? p.58

When we read something like 'The Lord said', must we believe that the Creator spoke as a human speaks? ... Ask yourself, "Who said that? Who told the tale?" p.63

How nearly literally true does a story have to be in order to be The Truth? p.64

To give the Eternal a voice that speaks in our words and in human language, apparently emerging from some imaginary larynx, is to degrade God to just a large and mighty human. p.72

Chapter 3 of Exodus ..."Thus you shall say to the Israelites 'Eyeh sent me to you'. This shall be My name for ever; this my appellation for all eternity." ... Eyeh as a name for God does not appear again. p.79

People had a very limited idea of what a God who was not like a human would be like, so they made God very humanlike in word and deed. Anthropomorphism made the incomprehensible easier to grasp. Perhaps we are not much wiser today. p.80

In the days of the King James version, it would not have been proper to translate correctly the relationship of Adam and eve as 'man and woman'. The translated the word 'ishah' (meaning 'woman') as 'wife', with no justification excepting their own standards of propriety. There was no word for wife that far back in mankind's history and, of course, no weddings. Biblical Hebrew has no word for 'wife'. p.97

[* Regarding marriage of Leah and Rachel] There is no mention of the girls being consulted at any stage. Other than Laban getting Jacob drunk (I think), there is no mention of ceremony for either wedding. p.98

... the word translated as 'husband is 'ish', which means just 'man'. p.101