MandM header image 2

Hector Avalos and Careful, Non-Selective Citation of Sources

June 30th, 2011 by Matt

On Debunking Christianity, Hector Avalos has posted a response to my critique of his post A Reply to Hector Avalos’ “Why Flannagan Fails History”. His latest post is entitled Flannagan Versus Westbrook: Understanding the Problem; it pretty much repeats points I have addressed in my critique, basically Avalos pretends I did not answer them.

In the comments section, Avalos pretty much admits that Westbrook holds the view I maintained he does. When a questioner asks Avalos about the lex talionis he stated:

“This is a highly contested issue. Some think that the literal interpretation could still be held even in post-Christian Jewish texts (I cited some in my initial post). Westbrook believes that both the literal and monetary co-existed, each applied depending on circumstances, in the biblical period.”

Compare this with my comment to Max explaining my position:

“Westbrook argues that serious wrongs “gave rise to a dual right in the victim or his family, namely to take revenge on the culprit, or to make composition with the culprit and accept payment in lieu of revenge”. He goes on to note, “[t]his right was a legal right, determined and regulated by the court”. The courts could “fix the level of composition payment” making “revenge a contingent right, which was only revived if the culprit failed to pay”.

When talionic legal formulae occur in A.N.E. legal texts they merely express that the punishment be proportional to the crime. This could involve punishment in kind (which would be proportional to the crime) but in most cases it would probably involve monetary compensation.”

Avalos is aware of my dialogue with Max as he quotes from it in his post. Readers will note the position he now attributes to Westbrook. This is almost exactly the view I said Westbrook held in my response yet, oddly, this comment by Avalos occurs under a post he entitled “Flannagan versus Westbrook” where he continues to argue to Debunking Christianity’s readers that I misrepresented Westbrook’s position.

I am flat tack with mid-semester marking at the moment, in the coming month I have two conferences looming I am giving papers to, I am moderating a panel discussion and speaking in another so unfortunately I cannot respond to all of Avalos’ claims. However, I do want to address one objection he raised in Why Dr. Flannagan Fails History, Dr. Hector Avalos Responds, which was part of  Avalos’ case that I engaged in “a very selective and uncritical reading of the sources” I cited to support my position:

“As it is, Flannagan might need to update his Copan readings. On page 121 of Is God A Moral Monster: Making Sense of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011), Copan reluctantly admits that Deuteronomy 25:11-12 might be “the only biblical instance of punishment by mutilation.” So now Copan has gone from arguing that the Bible represented an advance over other cultures that practiced legal mutilation to making a case for the Bible’s superiority because it might have ONLY ONE case of mutilation for a poor woman helping to save her husband. What a magnificent improvement.”

MirrorThe conclusion people are supposed to draw from this is that I am unaware of Copan’s latest writings. However, as my readers know, I have read Copan’s book (Paul sent me an electronic copy before it was published because he wanted my feedback on the manuscript; he also sent me post publication electronic and hard copies as well). It is worth comparing Avalos’ citation, and summary with a copy and paste from the original, as it is revealing to do so. Here is what Copan actually says on page 121:

“At first blush, this passage apparently requires that a woman’s hand must be cut off if she seizes the genitals of the man fighting with her husband—and scholars typically take this view. Now, if this were the case, it would be the only biblical instance of punishment by mutilation;… A more plausible interpretation of this passage is the punishment of depilation (“you shall shave [the hair of] her groin”), not mutilation. The word commonly translated “hand [kaph]” can refer to the “palm” of a hand or some rounded concave object like a dish, bowl, or spoon or even the arch of a foot. The commonly-used word for “hand” (yad) isn’t used here. It would be strange to cut off the “palm” of a hand!”

Avalos has taken Copan’s comments, “if this were the case, it would be the only biblical instance of punishment by mutilation”, and he has snipped off “if this were the case, it would be” and has presented the snipped quote to his readers so that looks as though Copan believed that it actually was the case,

“Copan reluctantly admits that Deuteronomy 25:11-12 might be ‘the only biblical instance of punishment by mutilation.’”

Avalos then proceeds to ridicule Copan for holding to the view he has falsely attributed to him. Not only did Copan not say what Avalos attributed to him but in the text, still on page 121, Copan affirms only a few lines later that he quite clearly does not hold to this position. He then proceeds to argue against it.

Now I put to you that it is highly implausible that this is a misreading on Avalos’ part. This appears to be a deliberate fabrication created by snipping half a sentence and then putting words in front of it to change its meaning.

It is hard to believe that anyone who read the original, especially someone who read the whole chapter, would have thought Copan was saying what Avalos says he did.  It appears as though Avalos has choosen to misrepresent the views of another scholar on Debunking Christianity deliberately.

Of course most of Loftus’ readers will not have read Copan and I am sure it is rhetorically powerful to engage in these kinds of strategies, but I’ll leave my readers to judge whether they think this counts as a sound critique.

 

Tags:   · · · · 163 Comments

Leave a Comment


seven × 9 =


163 responses so far ↓

  • Copan’s hypothetical discussion is adequately captured in my phraseology: “Copan reluctantly admits that Deuteronomy 25:11-12 might be ‘the only biblical instance of punishment by mutilation.’”

    My use of “MIGHT BE” is precisely meant to express Copan’s hypothetical status for his remark.

    I repeated this hypothetical phrasing again: “might have ONLY ONE.”

    So how does “if it were X” differ much from “Might be X”?

    This is not equivalent to saying “Westbrook supports Copan’s position in Publication X.” That is a declarative sentence.

    Indeed, you did not say “Westbrook MIGHT support Copan in publication X.” See the difference?

    Yes, to say that “X says Y in Publication Z” is to say something untrue if “X does not say Y in Publication Z.”

  • I’m rather struggling to see, Dr Avalos, how Copan shows any sense of “reluctance” in admitting (and not even explicitly) that the “punishment by multilation” interpretation is hypothetically possible…

    Your clutching at a straw man really isn’t very persuasive, I’m afraid.

  • I would say that Copan’s claim that cutting off a hand really refers to “hair removal” is evidence of reluctance to admit that cutting off a hand really means cutting off a hand.

    In any case, your main charge did not pertain to the word “reluctant,” but to my supposed conversion of his hypothetical claim into a declarative sentence. I expressed the hypothetical nature of his claim fairly.

  • That was indeed a remarkable distortion of what my book says. Thank you, Matt, for properly citing my work and correcting the misrepresentation of my position.

  • Firstly, Dr Avalos, to clear up any confusion, I am a different Matthew, not Matt Flannagan your original interlocutor.

    Second, you simply beg the question when you say “cutting off the hand means cutting off the hand”. The very question at hand (if I may pun a little) is whether the Hebrew should be translated “cutting off the hand” or not, even before the question of whether that translated meaning should be taken literally or metaphorically.

    And third, the fact that you think that Prof. Copan’s translation is not plausible (i.e. demonstrating that you would be reluctant to translate the phrase as such) says absolutely nothing about whether Prof. Copan was reluctant in his (implicit) admission that the translation is hypothetically possible.

    Fourth, now that Prof. Copan has spoken on the matter, I would suggest that you respond appropiately by (however reluctantly) admitting your mistake.

  • Dr. Avalos,
    Do moral relativists have any good reasons to admit their mistakes when they seemingly obviously make them?

  • Dear Matt,
    I have nothing to retract.

    I would like to ask Dr. Copan, however, if he believes that Leviticus 24:17-22 was meant literally?

    If so, does he believe that Westbrook also takes that passage literally?

  • So Avalos is basically a liar.

  • Gnu’Atheists have no conceptional power to differentiate between religious disputation vs political argument.

    The first rule in politics is to never admit too making a mistake especially if you clearly made one.

    If I lost my faith in God tomorrow I would never be a Gnu’Atheist.

    It would be bad enough burning in Hell for eternity but being a self-righteous clueless idiot to boot. That would add insult to injury.

  • Seems to be the case.

  • So once Paul shows up, Hector goes silent on the issue at hand and tries to distract attention away from it by raising up another target. After seeing the games Hector plays on other blogs (like TriB), this should be fun to watch.

    Rest assured, a good time will be had by all… Especially Heck, since he is unable to recognize when his “arguments” have been eviscerated.

  • Yes, Mr. Fosi, you’re right. I thought we were discussing Deuteronomy 25:11-12….

  • Dr. Copan,
    I would be happy to respond in detail to your claims about Deuteronomy 25:11-12 in the near future on Debunking Christianity, but could you please answer a question regarding the initial post on Lex talionis?

    Do you believe that Leviticus 24:17-22 was meant literally?

    If so, do you believe that Westbrook believes that passage was meant literally?

  • A promissory note and a vigorous shaking of the 2nd target.

    Given Heck’s propensity for writing checks he can’t cash, I’ll hold out for the current total due.

  • I feel much rides on the two questions Hector Avalos poses to Paul Copan regarding lex talionis and Westbrook’s opinion of it. I hope Paul Copan responds to these two questions directly as it pertains to his the topic of his recently published book. I feel Paul Copan is being a chance to clarify his stance. Thank you both for contributing to this thread.

  • Per a conversation Dr. Avalos and I had on Loftus’ blog a while back, he is a moral relativist (though he was morally chastising someone else at the time…). Perhaps he thinks quoting a colleague’s work out of context is morally okay for him?

  • Mr. Fosi, what do you see as Hector Avalos’s first target and second target?

  • bossmanham, whether or not Hector Avalos is a moral relativist or not doesn’t seem to affect his knowledge of ANE texts and biblical scholarship. Even if he is a moral relativist, Hector Avalos seems to express that in the arena of scholarship he greatly respects attempts to understand ANE texts in their whole, and goes against quote-mining, or misquoting (though I am sure everyone here has misquoted and taken out of context someone else at some point). Can you show me your understanding of where exactly you think Hector Avalos has taken Copan’s or Flannagan’s quotes out of context.

  • Dr Flannagan, it would be quite helpful if you could quote the passage you are referring to on page 121 where you see Copan argues against the position that Deut 25:11-12 is the only biblical example of when following lex talionis results in an in-kind mutilation, and hence where Copan claims there are more biblical examples of biblical lex talionis resulting in in-kind mutilation. Thanks in advance; others here are free to offer up this quote as well. It will determine if I purchase his book or not.

  • Avalos is no stranger to industrious fraud. This is merely another a long line of examples of outright lies and dishonesty. Was his latest book, The End of Biblical Studies, published by an accredited publisher? Nope, it was Prometheus Press. No wonder as to why that is, eh?

  • Might anyone comment on this thought: Copan’s tactics seem to be to argue away a problem text. There aren’t that many biblical texts about lex talionis – therefore it is easy to reach for a “possible” reading that coincides with an anachronistic extra-biblical (but can be laid over the bible) theological narrative (as many consistent narratives can be) which has been cultural formed at dates much later than biblical texts completion.

    But if this can be done with the “problem” texts, it seems it can easily be done with the doctrinal texts. There aren’t that many “doctrinal” texts (e.g. trinity texts, or hell texts). And is seems apologists often presume a meaning of a (equally rare) doctrinal text to justify a suspect “possible” interpretation of a “problem” text. Cheers.

  • Matthew States to Hector “Fourth, now that Prof. Copan has spoken on the matter, I would suggest that you respond appropiately by (however reluctantly) admitting your mistake.”

    I’m afraid civility is a religious virtue, so I can’t see Hector ever owning up to anything.

    Enenennx says “whether or not Hector Avalos is a moral relativist or not doesn’t seem to affect his knowledge of ANE texts and biblical scholarship.”

    Actually by Hector being a Moral relativist and not believing in objective evil or moral absolutes, has ALOT to do with knowledge of texts in the sense that his opinions on what is good or what is evil is just an opinion.

    Why take someones view on what’s evil seriously, when they can’t even tell us what “Evil” or “being wrong” is for all possible scenarios?

    Perhaps Hector should get better acquainted with Sam Harris, so he can show a bit more credibility.

  • Flannagan v. Avalos…

    Flannagan v. Avalos http://www.mandm.org.nz/2011/06/hector-avalos-and-careful-non-selective-citation-of-sources.html Posted by steve at 12:44 PM Labels: Hays, Hector Avalos, Matt Flannagan, Village Atheist…

  • It seems the OT scholar Christopher Wright also agrees with Copan
    “Unlike other ANE codes which had some very nasty amputations for punishment, physical mutilation as a judicial penalty is absent from OT law, except for one rather bizarre, extreme and somewhat unlikely circumstance (Deut 25.11). pg 166.

  • Nick, there is a good summary of the evidence on whether the lex tallonis is literal here

    http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/ted_hildebrandt/otesources/02-exodus/Text/Articles/Sprinkle-Ex21Abortion-WTJ.pdf

    It’s Joe Sprinkle’s article on the Lex tallionis in the Westminster Theological Journal 55 (1993) 233-53

  • Might anyone comment on this thought: Copan’s tactics seem to be to argue away a problem text. There aren’t that many biblical texts about lex talionis – therefore it is easy to reach for a “possible” reading that coincides with an anachronistic extra-biblical (but can be laid over the bible) theological narrative (as many consistent narratives can be) which has been cultural formed at dates much later than biblical texts completion.

    The problem is I don’t see Copan doing that, your welcome to read the article on the lex tallionis I posted and look at some of the evidence people actually do provide for non literal readings of the lex tallionis if you like. However, asserting they do such and such and attacking your own straw man isn’t really much of an argument i am afraid.

  • I think it is fitting that Dr. Avalos acknowledge his misrepresentation of my position on Deuteronomy 25:11-12. I in no way “reluctantly admit” what Avalos has asserted I do. As Matt Flannagan has pointed out, Avalos left off the critical antecedent subjunctive clause (“if this were the case…”). And Avalos’s follow-up comment about “might be” is simply mistaken. I do NOT say that this “might be” the only punitive maiming text in the Old Testament. There is indeed a difference between “if X were the case” (which implies a contrary-to-fact condition) and “X might be the case” (which implies a present possibility). For example, saying “if I were now dead….” (contrary to fact–I am not dead) is not the same as saying “I might be now dead” (which would mean “it’s possible that I might truly be dead even though everything in my life appears to be going on as normal”!).

    I hope Avalos will simply come clean on this matter and admit the intentional distortion.

  • Dear Dr. Copan,
    I stand by my characterization of your position as being reluctant.

    I do so because you go through great lengths to deny the literal meaning of Deut. 25:11-12 on the basis of clearly flawed arguments and arbitrary premises.

    I have elaborated on this here:
    http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2011/07/underhanded-biblical-interpretation.html

    I think there is more than plenty of evidence there that you are reluctant to admit the literal interpretation of Deut. 25:11-12.

    Now, would you be kind enough to answer the simple questions I posed to you about whether Westbrook sees Leviticus 24:17-22
    literally?

    It should not take up much of your time. A simple Yes or No will do.

  • Dear Dr. Avalos,

    Denial is different from reluctant admission, and I deny (based on the exegetical work of Jerome Walsh and extensive correspondence with him on this issue) that Deuteronomy 25:11-12 is referring to maiming/amputation. What you have attributed to me is a distortion of my position, and other readers have have readily noted this too. I don’t understand why you will not acknowledge this.

  • Dr. Copan,
    I explained my use of “might be” already, and opinions on such usage can differ.

    On the other hand, Westbrook’s opinion on Lev. 25:17-22 is quite clear. So please tell us if you think Westbrook supports your view on the literal or non-literal meaning of that passage.

    That will prove more fruitful to the original theme of this thread.

    I think this is at least your third visit to this thread without answering my question.

    Meanwhile, I have provide you with a nearly 4000 word response since you first visited this thread.

    Thus, simple Yes or No should not be that much of a problem.

  • Good conversation going here. Let me just follow Avalos in urging Copan to finally answer the simple questions he’s been asking. I’m getting the impression that Copan just wants to avoid giving Avalos any ammunition by exclusively focusing on what he thinks Avalos has gotten wrong.

    In any case, now when Copan finally responds, Avalos can (perhaps justifiably) say that Copan “reluctantly answered” such and such, since he does appear to be reluctant on this at least (regardless of whether or not he was reluctant in his book).

  • I would really like to know why the Leviticus passage is a problem. My oxford study bible says it is interpreted literally, but is an exception because of that very issue (the “exception that proves the rule”). of course, I am reading from an edition that is several years old, and the real scholars are on the board already. Dr copans case still seems pretty sturdy, though, as well as his insistence in focusing on deut. 25, since the passage there seems to be a much more interesting subject for debate. So, Dr copan doesn’t seem to be running from the real fight at all, and avalos has already exhibited shamefully unethical behavior, which should be disconcerting to the rational person, I think, unless, of course, one thinks that ethics are a tyrannical social construct designed to keep more fruitful “discourse” at bay (why talk to somebody who is unwilling to play by the rules, though? Except to demonstrate clearly and publicly, through repetition, a near scientific proof of their lack of sportsmanship. When, in the game, the truth is at stake, such unsportsman-like behavior is not simply an annoyance, it is evil).

  • There are 3 different Matts/Matthews commenting in this thread. To distinguish them look at their Avatar pics and hold your mouse over their names.
    Can I suggest to each that they add in their surnames or a surname initial to make it easier for those reading comments on a reader?

  • Landon, the questions Hector asks Paul have been answered repeatedly. I have offered the relevant quotes from Westbrook many times now, I have also looked at the quote from “Law in Everyday Isreal” that Avalos provided and shown Westbrook’s conclusion are as I said in that quotation.

    I also have provided the Sprinkle article,

    http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/ted_hildebrandt/otesources/02-exodus/Text/Articles/Sprinkle-Ex21Abortion-WTJ.pdf

    Which, spells out the evidence for a non literal reading. These are the main sources I believe Paul uses in his book. So its all provided and their, It might be nice to pretend the evidence has not been provided but that’s non honest.

    As to the Leviticus being literal I noted what Westbrook said
    in The history of Ancient Near Eastern Law Westbrook thinks the following:

    “[s]ome law codes impose physical punishments and others payments for the same offenses, while some codes have a mixture of the two. There is not necessarily a contradiction… in highlighting one or the other alternative, the codes are making a statement as to their view of the gravity of the offence.”

    “The basic approach (in my view, and in this I differ fundamentally from the evolutionary school) was that these wrongs gave rise to a dual right in the victim or his family, namely to take revenge on the culprit, or to make composition with the culprit and accept payment in lieu of revenge.”

    He states “[t]his right was a legal right, determined and regulated by the court”, he explains that the courts could “fix the level of composition payment” making “revenge a contingent right, which was only revived if the culprit failed to pay”.

    I think this position entails that if a law, such as Leviticus, imposes physical punishments and others laws, like Exodus, impose payment for the same offence ( in this case of assault) then the law does not, in fact, require or call for mutilation for assault. Of course, sometimes people might choose to apply the law that way, but the law does not actually require this. These laws function more to make “a statement as to their view of the gravity of the offence”, and to spell out the requirement that the punishment be proportional to the crime. Thats an implication of what Westbrook says about how “literal tallions” function in such law codes.

    Westbrook might say other things elsewhere, that are not consistent with his position, but that does not mean his position does not entail what I said it does in the work I cited.

    Avalos in fact in the comments section of his own blog post agrees with me on Westbrook he states

    “This is a highly contested issue. Some think that the literal interpretation could still be held even in post-Christian Jewish texts (I cited some in my initial post). Westbrook believes that both the literal and monetary co-existed, each applied depending on circumstances, in the biblical period.”

    The question, Avalos was asked was when non literal talion replaced the literal one. So according to Avalos, Westbrook’s conclusion is not that the law demands a literal retaliation

    Also the Sprinkle article offers a critique of the literal reading.

    So I am not sure, why people are asking where is the evidence? its all been provided.

    Note, also that contrary to what Avalos suggests I did not make any claims about Deuteronomy 25:11-12, I have not studied that passage in depth. What I pointed out was that Avalos’s claim I was out of date because Paul had now admitted something is false. Again on this claim I was correct.

  • Sorry ’bout that! Matt’s all around. I’m lower case matt, but I’ve added the last initial now.

  • Matt,
    You keep presenting more “general” statements made by Westbrook about ancient legal systems to make it seem like Westbrook specifically takes Lev. 24:17-22 non-literally.

    That would be both a misrepresentation AND misreading of Westbrook.

    What you need to find is where Westbrook speaks about that particular text.

    I have already given you at least three quotes where Westbrook speaks about that particular text, and he says it is meant literally.

    So, again, where did Westbrook specifically say that Lev. 24:17-22 was meant non-literally?

    You still have not given us a quote on that.

  • Hector, the problem is you keep misrepresenting what others say, and then using that as a basis for claiming they made false claims.

    I never made any comments about how Westbrook specifically exegetes a passage in Leviticus.

    I said Westbrook in a specific article defended the position that the lex tallionis passages do not demand a mutilation. I have substantiated that claim. I have provided several quotations where he states that these passages did not function in a way where they demand literal mutilation.

    I am not required to make claims on other things Westbrook said in other articles or on every specific exegetical point he makes on those passages.

    Moreover, as I pointed out if Westbrook defends a literal reading of Leviticus the overall approach he sketched that I quoted means that this does not mean the law demands literal mutilation.

    You keep claiming people said things they did not furiously refuting the straw men that you have set up and demanding people answer fallicous complex questions.

  • Dr. Flannagan,
    You are using what the law “DEMANDS” quite arbitrarily. To me, what the law demands is equivalent to what it says on a plain reading.

    How else are you determining what the law DEMANDS in texts like Deut. 25:11-12 or Lev. 24:17-22?

    But to be clear: Do you believe Westbrook takes Lev. 24:17-22
    literally?

    Yes or No?

    Please do give us a Yes or No, even if you wish to elaborate later. It will make our discussion more efficient.

  • Hector, I disagree, what a person demands is not the same is what is said on a plain meaning. That depends on how people use the text in question.

    I think there are several places in the Torah where the texts appears to allow for compensation as an alternative despite the existence of a plain meaning that would have suggested otherwise.

    Westbrook seems to say in the quotes I cited above, say that when the plain meaning calls refers to mutilation, in fact the text did not function to demand mutilation but rather allowed for monetary compensation in lieu of revenge.

    He for example does not think that a law which calls for compensation contradicts one which in the plain reading calls for compensation. This would not be the case if the plain meaning demanded mutilation.

  • But to be clear: Do you believe Westbrook takes Lev. 24:17-22
    literally?

    Yes or No?

    Please do give us a Yes or No, even if you wish to elaborate later. It will make our discussion more efficient.

  • “Dr” Avalos,

    Do you still beat your wife?

    Yes or No?

    Please do give us a Yes or No, even if you wish to elaborate later. It will make our discussion more efficient.

    Seriously when did Atheism become simple minded fundamentalism?

  • Of course now that I think of it knowing what type of person Avalos seems to be I expect “Debunking Christianity” will soon run a rant about how Christians lie for Jesus and Avalos opponents falsely accused him of domestic violence.

  • Enenennx,

    whether or not Hector Avalos is a moral relativist or not doesn’t seem to affect his knowledge of ANE texts and biblical scholarship

    Never said it did.

    goes against quote-mining, or misquoting

    But he wouldn’t see it as objectively morally wrong with it. Since he’s done it here in a manner aimed at discrediting his debate opponent, and as he’s debated dishonestly with people like WLC, one wonders if he sees it as okay for him to slide by the rules so he can make atheism himself look better…

  • I’m no expert on the subject but has anyone asked the Jews what they actually used to do ? ie the ‘law’ in practice rather than in ‘theory’.

    That ought to settle it one way or the other.

    Sorry, but I find it amusing that Christians are defending a text that was written for Jews by Jews without seeming to ask the Jews what they did.

    I would think that there is quite a body of Jewish case law on the subject.

  • This seems to be the sort of thing that the OTF is about http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-13989013
    Would any of the Christians go ?

  • Copan is relying on a hypothetical interpretation when examples of mutilation exist in the ANE, and in the Bible — the lex t. Retaliatory mutilation appears to be the oldest meaning, which was reinterpreted only later. Same with the ransoming verses. Also, the male genitalia are focused on so much in the OT, from all the talk about God blessing the “seed” by miraculously multiplying it, to the practice of circumcision, to the holy genital oath (placing one’s hands “under the thigh,” a euphemism for the biblical genital oath), that cutting off the hand would seem in order in that culture.

  • Paul, my understanding is that the talmudic position is that the text does not require literal mutilation but merely a punishment proportionate to the crime and in calls for proportionate monetary compensation. The jewish commentators I have consulted suggest this.

    Isreal Drazin notes that the Halacah in b. B.K 84a and Sanhedrin 79a and Mek each understand the phrase to refer to a principle of commensurate compensation. (Targum Onkelos to Exodus (New York: KTAV Publishing House, 1990), 215.)

    Sarna notes “[r]abbinic tradition understood the biblical formulation to mean monetary payment and not physical retaliation” (Nahum Sarna, J P S Commentary: Exodus (New York: Jewish Publication Society, 1991), 126.)

    Similarly, Joe Sprinkle’s article which I link to above calls this the majority view amongst rabbinic literature he cites b. Sanh. 79a; b. B. Qam. 83b; b. Ketub. 33b; Rashi on Exod 21:24; m. B. Qam. 8:1.

    Josephus also noted that the law allowed for monetary payment instead of a mutilation.

    So the Jewish view would tend to be the non literal reading.

    Ed you write

    Retaliatory mutilation appears to be the oldest meaning, which was reinterpreted only later. Same with the ransoming verses

    This seems to me to be an assertion, some scholars like Westbrook and Finkelstien suggest the original laws did not require literal talion and allowed for monetary compensation instead of mutilation. The evolutionary view that the oldest laws were literal mutilation and was latter replaced by monetary payment does not seem to fit the evidence, as we know that in some cases monetary payments appear in earlier ANE law codes and in others alongside them. Westbrook mentions this and so does the article I provided from Sprinkle.

    Moreover, I can’t argue it fully in a short combox ( I have a chapter on this in my PhD thesis) but I think the context of Exodus 21:22-25 strongly suggests this. The phrase occurs after a series of laws which lay down compensation for an assault, the law is immediately proceeded by an application of the principle in terms of compensation and the word “pay” or “give” in context seems to refer to monetary payment in the previous verse.

    There is also in the torah several places where language is used which in its plain meaning would call for literal punishment and in which the author appears to assume that a monetary compensation would likely be imposed instead allowed instead. One is a few verses latter where the issue is a goring ox. Another in Numbers 35 where the author anticipates monetary substitution and has to explicitly condemn it. Proverbs 6 also appears to anticipate monetary compensation for adultery, and Wenham notes that certain other laws in the Torah seem to presuppose this. I Kings 20:39 seems to assume certain capital offences could be substituted with fines. Leviticus 24 applies the life for life principle in terms of resitution (v18 &21).

    Westbrook also suggests that the kind of talionic punishments in laws like this which appear to call for bodily mutilation in fact allowed for compensation in lieu of revenge.

    So I think your assertion is questionable.

  • Dear BenYachov:
    RE: “Do you still beat your wife?

    You are using a question that is not analogous to mine because yours assumes the existence of an event that did not occur. I do not beat my wife.

    On the other hand, my questions to both Dr. Copan and Dr. Flannagan are based on an event that did occur. Dr. Westbrook HAS expressed himself clearly on the issue of the literal interpretation of Lev. 24:17-22.

    Thus, mine is a legitimate question, whereas yours is not. Do you see the difference?

    Otherwise, such differences are usually covered in an elementary course in logic.

    It is now become clear that both Dr. Copan and Dr. Flannagan are “reluctant,” in my humble opinion, to answer my direct questions.

    The reason should be clear to most fair-minded readers here.

    They won’t answer my questions directly because they know full well that their answers would contradict some of their previous statements.

    Answering my questions directly would lead to a more complete collapse of some of their larger claims about Lex talionis.

    Simple as that.

  • Ed,
    From everything I’ve read on the topic, it seems that punishments moved from monetary to mutilation in many ANE societies, whereas for instance Rome moved in the opposite direction. If anything, it seems that if scholars do not hold that monetary was original then they hold that it is hard to discern.

    See for instance Rofe (an agnostic Jew) on the Deuteronomy passage who says, “It is, on the whole, difficult to determine whether talio punishments are early or late,” but goes on to argue basically for a late origin based on the developed nature of the other laws surrounding the passage. The law is late and is placed where it is for rhetorical effect. The exaggerated punishment would serve to shock the reader.

    It’s a much more interesting question to ask not what it might have meant in any setting before Deuteronomy, either in cultural law or in some other culture, but instead why it fits here in Deuteronomy. If most critical assumptions are true, (1) then why would a redactor working on Deuteronomy at a (2) post-exilic date, (3) who had a developed sense of justice and would have been repulsed by such a law leave it here. Is there a narrative or canonical meaning to the placement of the law? I, of course, don’t hold to many of the critical assumptions, yet it’s still an interesting question to ask.

  • No Hector, as I pointed out your question presupposes something that was false.

    Your question presupposes that i claimed Westbrook did not think Leviticus 24 did not refer to literal mutilation. But that’s not what I said, what i said was his position in a different article provides grounds for thinking that laws which refered to literal mutilation did not actually demand literal mutilation but in fact allowed for compensation as a substitute. I have provided quotations repeatedly that this is correct.

    A complex question does not need to presuppose a false event, it only needs to be a question which is based on a false presupposition. Which in your case it is.

  • I also doubt that granting that one writer believed Leviticus 24 refered to literal mutilation in a different article to the one I mentioned, would entail that that same writer did not claim that laws referring to literal mutilation did not in fact demand a literal mutilation in a another article that I did mention and it certainly would not show the lex tallionis does demand literal mutilation.

  • @ Matt – thanks – is there any Jewish case law to substantiate that ? Particularly anything pre-20th century.

  • Dr. Flannagan,
    You have provided nothing of the sort. You simply infer wrongly what Westbrook’s position is about Lev. 24:17-22 from a misreading of Westbrook’s work.

    Do you have something where he is specifically speaking of Lev. 24:17-22 rather than some erroneous inference you are making about what he believes?

    For example, note this quote that I provided here:

    http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2011/06/flannagan-versus-westbrook.html#disqus_thread

    Raymond Westbrook, Studies in Biblical and Cuneiform Law (1988), p. 81: “We have explained this passage as an interpretation of the Exodus formula to show that ‘pay a life,’ meaning a fixed sum refers only to animal life; where human beings are concerned, paying a life or a limb, etc., MEANS LITERAL RETALIATION.” [My capitalized emphasis]

    So do you have something where Westbrook specifically says Lev. 24:17-22 DOES NOT MEAN LITERAL RETALIATION?

    Yes or No?

  • “Dr” Avalos

    >You are using a question that is not analogous to mine because yours assumes the existence of an event that did not occur. I do not beat my wife.

    Rather I am asking a question that has non-agreed upon assumptions and presuppositions. I think that is clear.

    The question assumes you beat your wife. Yet it has not been established you even have a wife(I don’t know you from Adam sir) much less that you ever physically abused her.

    By me demanding you limit your response to either Yes or No I hamper and cut off any response that would clarify the issue.

    In a like manner Dr. Flannagan has explained to you repeatedly what he thinks Westbrook means based on what he wrote.

    You, it seems can’t except that nuanced answer and need a simplistic response based on an unstated either/or fallacy.

    Thus your demand for a yes or no response in this context is clearly inappropriate. It is disingenuous, based sophistry and a level of argument suited to base politics not academics .

    One does not have to believe or disbelieve in gods to recognize political bull***t when he sees it.

  • Besides “Dr” Avalos,

    It has already been shown here(to my satisfaction at least) you misrepresented what both Dr. Copan and Flannagan said and believe. You have not owned up to it or counter rebutted it. It is clear you are now trying to change the subject.

    This is excellent politics and sophistry. But it is not rational or honest argument.

    Like I said I could deny all gods tomorrow and I would still believe this.

  • What makes Dr Avalos’ Atheist Apologetics so tedious is he seems incapable of seeing a simple truth.

    Deuteronomy 25:11-12 and other texts of that nature might not demand or mandate a literal application (being a Catholic who denies the whole Reformation Perspicuity Heresy nonsense that is no stretch for me to believe) and it might be that God still doesn’t in fact exist.

    Thus I could conceivably deny the existence of God and be skeptical about the meaning “Dr” Avalos is trying to pigeonhole this text into meaning.

    It’s not hard.

  • >So the Jewish view would tend to be the non literal reading.

    Well speaking as a Catholic that settles the matter for me. Jesus said the Pharisees sat in the seat of Moses. If this is the meaning then Dr. Avalos arguments can be summery dismissed by those of my ilk.

    The anti-religious polemics of Avalos like Lofftus presuppose a Protestant Evangelical doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture that is rejected by Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and Orthodox Jews.

    Yet another reason why the New Atheism is intellectually inferior. It’s one size fits all polemics against religion.

    No wonder he asks “Just answer Yes or No” questions.

  • Dear BenYachov,
    I think I rather have Dr. Flannagan speak for himself rather than have you speak for him. I am sure he can defend himself without your help, don’t you?

  • Hector Avalos’s question to Matthew Flannagan: Do you believe Westbrook takes Lev. 24:17-22 literally? Yes or No?

    Ben Yachov’s question to Hector Avalos: Do you still beat your wife? Yes or No?

    Ben Yachov, your question of Hector Avalos I feel is not analogous to Hector Avalos’s question of Flannagan (as I feel was shown by Hector Avalos, and not adequately rebutted by you).

    By inserting the word “still” you are implying that Hector Avalos has in the past beat his wife [I have to express my hesitancy to even write that, the thought of using such an example even rhetorically I find distasteful; additionally Hector Avalos has stated he does not beat his wife, and I am unaware of any evidence than would even justify the rhetorical accusation].

    What does Hector Avalos’s question of Matthew Flannagan imply in a like manner? Please be specific, so as to be helpful.

    Perhaps I might suggest a way in which each question could be answered to many’s satisfaction:

    Hector Avalos’s question to Matthew Flannagan: Yes (or No) I do (or do not) believe Westbrook feels the interpretation of Lev 24:17-24 is most accurate if interpreted literally.

    Ben Yachov’s question to Hector Avalos: I do not, and have never, beat my wife. [Hector Avalos seems to have answreed thusly.]

    Am I overlooking something (I often do), but this seems like a easy place to start.

    Even if you are talking about different articles by Westbrook, Matthew Flannagan, does it make sense to comment on what you think of what Westbrook has to say in the addtional (and therefore fuller picture-porviding) articles by Westbrook Hector Avalos refers to, as opposed to throwing up references to articles by different authors (which is fine, and thank you) that you claim support your assertion. Such would be helpful.

    As an outsider, thank you both for contributing to this thread, and to Matthew Flannagan for maintaining it.

  • @Enenennx

    >Ben Yachov, your question of Hector Avalos I feel is not analogous to Hector Avalos’s question of Flannagan (as I feel was shown by Hector Avalos, and not adequately rebutted by you).

    I must disagree. Clearly it is analogous.

    >By inserting the word “still” you are implying that Hector Avalos has in the past beat his wife

    Rather by demanding a strick “Yes or No” as the only legitimate answer to the question provides a false alternative based on false presupositions which assumes Hector both has a wife whom he has in fact beaten some time in the past. Which of course is unreasonable and unfair to presupose up front.

    The demand for a strick “yes or no” sans the unstated presupositions is not legitimate in this case & is not reasonable or fair either.

    >Ben Yachov’s question to Hector Avalos: I do not, and have never, beat my wife. [Hector Avalos seems to have answreed thusly.]

    Which is a reasonable qualified answer but violates the demand it can only be answered “Yes or No”.

    The demand for a stict “yes or no” answer is what I object too.

    Clearly you agree with me.

    >Hector Avalos’s question to Matthew Flannagan: Yes (or No) I do (or do not) believe Westbrook feels the interpretation of Lev 24:17-24 is most accurate if interpreted literally.

    Which is also a qualified answer (i.e. is most accurate) and not a strict “yes or no”.

    Thus I remain convinced Hector demand is legitimate.

    But it was a good effort on your part.

    Peace and Respects.

  • Hector

    >I think I rather have Dr. Flannagan speak for himself rather than have you speak for him. I am sure he can defend himself without your help, don’t you?

    Then logically Enenennx shouldn’t run interference for you either(not that I am making that demand or suggesting you are either). Thought I think he/she is better at it then you sir.

    PS. Sorry Enenennx I am notoriously bad with names & I don’t regonize the gender of the name so I don’t know if you are a dude or a girl.
    (also I am too lazy to look it up right now)

    No offense intended.

  • edit:Thus I remain convinced Hector demand is not legitimate.

  • Mr. BenYachov,
    What you think is really of no concern to me.

    Besides, the question is not whether Catholics, etc. take those passages literally. The main question is DOES WESTBROOK take Lev. 24:17-22 (and Deut. 25:11-12) literally.

    Please adhere to the main issue instead of trying to divert this thread into your petty grievances about side issues.

  • Thanks Ben Yachov for responding. I hope you sense me trying to see where you are coming from, I am having difficulties (which can sometimes be my usual).

    The two questions in play are:

    1) Do you believe Westbrook takes Lev. 24:17-22 literally? Yes or No?

    2) Do you still beat your wife? Yes or No?

    Might the the following two questions more analogous (and worthy of direct answers):

    1a) Do you feel Westbook feels Lev. is most accurately understood literally? Yes or No.

    2a) Do you beat your wife? Yes or No? (Following through with this example you originated)

    Adding the “still” is adding a “trick”, if you will, and a dishonest one. If forcing a Yes or No answer is dishonest, why compound it with another dishonest tactic?

    [I submit this is very distracting to the main point, which I feel is whether or not Westbrook feels Lev is to be best understood literally, and whether or not Matthew Flanagan choose to use a snippet of Westbrook's thoughts on the matter, or all of Westbrook's thoughts on the matter, to support Copan's assertions; but I do appreciate everyone's tolerance.]

    P.S. I hope I am not being taken for speaking (or running interference) for either Matthew Flannagan or Hector Avalos; those men’s credential out strip me in every regard. I graciously thank them for their contributions to this thread and I humbly declare than any comments in which I try to understand what they’ve said should of course not be taken as what they have if fact said. Cheers.

  • [my P.S. paragraph just above contained a few typos, so I submit this comment paragraph as corrective and replacement]

    P.S. I hope I am not being taken for speaking (or “running interference” as you say) for either Matthew Flannagan or Hector Avalos; those men’s credentials out strip mine in every regard. I graciously thank them for their contributions to this thread and I humbly declare that any comments in which I try to understand what they’ve said should of course not be taken as what they have in fact said. Cheers.

  • @Hector

    >The main question is DOES WESTBROOK take Lev. 24:17-22 (and Deut. 25:11-12) literally.

    But is that the same as Westbrook claiming it is demanded that Lev is to be applied literally? That is the point and it seems clear from the other citations provided by Matt to be the case.

    Even if Westbrook favors the idea it was originally applied literally & then by later development it was re-interpreted more benignly as Matt showed from Westbrook that can hardly be demonstrated definitively.

    You where once a Christian. You might understand this analogy. Your demand reminds me of the Jehovah’s Witness who demands I look only at the passage “The Father is greater than I” and ignore passages like “Father and I are one” “the Word was God” etc.

    It’s called proof texting! You demand I focus solely on how Westbrook understands Lev to the exclusion to what he has said elsewhere. Matt gives a nuanced broad view of his thought. You are proof texting sir.

    >Please adhere to the main issue instead of trying to divert this thread into your petty grievances about side issues.

    This assumes I grant you the authority to decide what is in fact the main issue here. I do not.

  • @Enenennx

    >Thanks Ben Yachov for responding. I hope you sense me trying to see where you are coming from, I am having difficulties (which can sometimes be my usual).

    No worries bro. I respect your honesty.

    I will get back to you later if you will forgive me. The wife needs me.

    Cheers.

  • @Enenennx

    I’m back.

    >Might the the following two questions more analogous (and worthy of direct answers):

    They are improvements and they are less ambiguous thus less open to misinterpretation.

    >1a) Do you feel Westbook feels Lev. is most accurately understood literally? Yes or No.

    If the Yes or no can be followed with a qualifying explanation I have no problem, here. It doesn’t matter if he takes it literally. the real question is was it always applied literally or mandated to be so?

    For example you literally had to circumcise your male child on the 8th day of his birth. You literally had to do no work on the Sabbath. What if the 6th day fell on the Sabbath? Which law literally applied?

    Lev tells us literally we must pay with our lives and limbs for our crimes and transgressions against others. But Jewish Tradition the oral law teaches mutilating the body is evil. Which law is applied?

    Without these things to illuminate the issue a mere yes or no answer at best is limiting at worst misleading.

    >2a) Do you beat your wife? Yes or No? (Following through with this example you originated)

    It’s still ambiguous in that it assumes Hector has a wife (& I didn’t know that when I asked the phony question) and does it assume here “beat” means to physically abuse?

    Speaking for my self Yes I beat my wife……in chess once(or was it StarFleet Battles? Memory is fuzzy).

    >Adding the “still” is adding a “trick”, if you will, and a dishonest one. If forcing a Yes or No answer is dishonest, why compound it with another dishonest tactic?

    Well sophistry has no place in rational discussion. I fear Hector based on his behavior to date is a sophist. He should change those tactics if he really cares about promoting Atheism without giving unnecessary scandal.

    But I used to play the Catholic Apologetics game. The desire to merely rhetorically win an argument at the expense of advocating an intelligent argument is intoxicating.

    Cheers!

  • I blame my wife. She kept bugging me about the RETURN OF THE JEDI remastered edition while I was trying to write this.

    edit:For example you literally had to circumcise your male child on the 8th day of his birth. You literally had to do no work on the Sabbath. What if the 8th day fell on the Sabbath? Which law literally applied?

  • Matthew 5:37:
    Let what you say be simply `Yes’ or `No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

  • @”Dr” Avalos

    According to my Catholic New American Bible Matthew 5:37 is in a section titled by the editorsTeaching about Oaths. Indeed verses 33-36 discuss proper conduct in taking oaths.

    Context remember?

    Verses 38-42 that follow are in a section titled by the scholars who assemble the NAB on the Bishops behalf titled teaching on retaliation where Jesus abrogates the Laws on revenge.

    As such given the context and given Catholic tradition(2 Thes 3:6) I fail to see how Matthew 5:37 a instruction on oaths can be used to mandate that nuanced answers to complex religious issues should be reduced to a simplistic Yes or No?

    You really have to give up your fundamentalist mentality.

    It’s not helping you.

    Seriously dude.

  • Ben Yachov, you beat your wife…. at chess. You’re very clever. As with some, you chose to bring definitions into the mix which everyone knows are irrelevant to the main issue. I apologize to this thread, and to Matthew Flannagan and Hector Avalos for being duped by what is likely a troll, or perhaps an intentional distracter, or a made up identity. If Ben Yachov you are real and have your own blog where you would like to continue your side issues not relevant to this thread, let me know, I feel I could still learn from you, but our exchange I fear is not helping this thread.

    As it stands I look forward to Matthew Flannagan’s direct answers to Hector Avalos’s direct questions.

  • @Enenennx

    >If Ben Yachov you are real and have your own blog where you would like to continue your side issues not relevant to this thread, let me know, I feel I could still learn from you, but our exchange I fear is not helping this thread.

    I’ve never had a blog, Dude if you are referring to my google log in account. I set that up because I was having trouble logging on to Victor’s blog so I set it up a google account and gave a joke name to the “blog” that comes with it. I never use the blog function and I rarely use the google acount.

    Also I believe in being open about who I am & what I believe. I am a Catholic Christian by the Grace of God. I reject Perspicuity, Sola Scriptura, Private interpretation and I believe Tradition is the word of God too. What you call dismissively “side issues” is too me mere full dis-closer. I reject one size fits all apologetics across the board. What is wrong with that?

    I think Atheist polemicists who treat all religious believers as if they where YEC fundies are doing themselves and the rest of us a disservice.

    Ya got a problem with that buddy? Seriously?

    >As with some, you chose to bring definitions into the mix which everyone knows are irrelevant to the main issue.

    What is the “main issue” here other that I reject Hector’s irrational demand of Matt for answers that fit his Procrustean bed and not complete answers?

    Your response here is not an argument on your part. it’s just a dismissal. It has no rational value and it doesn’t move me.

    >I apologize to this thread, and to Matthew Flannagan and Hector Avalos for being duped by what is likely a troll, or perhaps an intentional distracter, or a made up identity.

    Well that’s not at all patronizing and insulting…..NOT!

    I believe the term here is pissing on my leg and telling me it’s raining.

    >let me know, I feel I could still learn from you, but our exchange I fear is not helping this thread.

    Yeh here is some advice. If you don’t like me, if I rub you the wrong way then just say so. I value and respect honesty and I have no patience for phony curtsey or patronizing bulls***.

    It’s tedious.

    OTOH we Catholics must forgive. So maybe you had a bad morning & didn’t feel like putting effort into responding to me so you decided to blow me off by calling me a troll.

    Hey if you don’t want to argue anymore just say so. I’m not the sort of jerk who would turn around and say”HA! You can’t answer me!”. I hate that & I would never do that to someone who gets bored with the argument.

    Gee get a clue!

  • Ben Yacham, you take the liberty to presume much. I meant no disrespect and am offering my opinion as merely a mildly educated (much as most of the population) individual; perhaps my opinion of how I perceive your posts is wrong, but I offer my opinion and would ask you examine it as just one data point as to how your comments come off. As no one has come to your defense here (likewise no one has come to mine), my opinion is just that, a sole data point.

    You suggest maybe I had a bad morning. I am having quite a nice day, hopefully you are to.

    It remains Matthew Flannagan has not offered either a direct answer or a nuanced answer to Hector Avalos’s recent direct questions. Cheers and thank you.

  • You wrote:
    >Ben Yacham, you take the liberty to presume much.

    I take liberties to presume? Really? Moi?

    You wrote:
    >I apologize to this thread, and to Matthew Flannagan and Hector Avalos for being duped by what is likely a troll, or perhaps an intentional distracter, or a made up identity.

    I believe the Biblical says “Physician heal thyself”.

    >perhaps my opinion of how I perceive your posts is wrong…

    perhaps….

    Tell you what let’s speak no more off this & we will each give the other a second chance. Till next time.

    Peace to you.

  • It remains Matthew Flannagan has not offered either a direct answer or a nuanced answer to Hector Avalos’s recent direct questions. Cheers and thank you.

  • >It remains Matthew Flannagan has not offered either a direct answer or a nuanced answer to Hector Avalos’s recent direct questions.

    According to Matt “the questions Hector asks Paul have been answered repeatedly.”.

    and

    “No Hector, as I pointed out your question presupposes something that was false.

    Your question presupposes that i claimed Westbrook did not think Leviticus 24 did not refer to literal mutilation. But that’s not what I said, what i said was his position in a different article provides grounds for thinking that laws which refered to literal mutilation did not actually demand literal mutilation but in fact allowed for compensation as a substitute. I have provided quotations repeatedly that this is correct.

    A complex question does not need to presuppose a false event, it only needs to be a question which is based on a false presupposition. Which in your case it is.
    Matthew Flannagan
    Jul 4, 2011 at 12:30 am

    I also doubt that granting that one writer believed Leviticus 24 refered to literal mutilation in a different article to the one I mentioned, would entail that that same writer did not claim that laws referring to literal mutilation did not in fact demand a literal mutilation in a another article that I did mention and it certainly would not show the lex tallionis does demand literal mutilation.

    Westbrook also suggests that the kind of talionic punishments in laws like this which appear to call for bodily mutilation in fact allowed for compensation in lieu of revenge. END QUOTE

    What more is needed here?

  • If it is the case that “Westbrook also suggests that the kind of talionic punishments in laws like this which appear to call for bodily mutilation in fact allowed for compensation in lieu of revenge” then is that an admission that they were carried out in both ways – sometimes bodily mutilation, and sometimes monetary compensation? Simple questions (I think) – is any biblical instruction to carry out lex talionis meant to prescribe in-kind mutilation as appropriate justice?

    Was monetary compensation demanded in this instance of lex talionis?

    If it was, like, a multiple choice, that Yahweh’s word could be interpreted either literally or figuratively in this instance of law-giving, what criteria exists when choosing? Is that criteria external to Yahweh’s Biblical word?

    Thanks for your patience.

  • Additionally, if it is the case that “Westbrook also suggests that the kind of talionic punishments in laws like this which appear to call for bodily mutilation in fact allowed for compensation in lieu of revenge” then is that an admission that they were carried out in both ways, and that Yahweh’s “allowing for” occasional non-mutilation is what grants the Biblical moral codes the high ground over other ANE law codes?

    If “the kind of talionic punishments in laws like this which appear to call for bodily mutilation in fact allowed for compensation in lieu of revenge” suggests that compensation “in lieu of revenge” is better (more moral), then wouldn’t this be the exact place in the text for a divine entity to demand such compensation “in lieu of revenge”? Or is bodily mutilation the proper revenge at the times when “compensation in lieu of revenge” is not “allowed for”?

  • First let me say good productive and challenging questions Enenennx. Unlike Avalos whose weird fundamentalism demands these texts can only be understood literally you by conceding they could be interpreted & or applied none literally have managed to salvage a good religious skeptic polemic against them.

    Well done. This is why I bash the tedious polemics of New Atheists. I can’t help but respect thoughtful atheists/criticsskeptics who rise above the simplistic view of the Gnu’s and their remnant fundie mindset.

    >If it was, like, a multiple choice, that Yahweh’s word could be interpreted either literally or figuratively in this instance of law-giving, what criteria exists when choosing?

    Oral Tradition is used also the Priests in the Old Covenant were teachers and judges; they explained the law to the people (Leviticus 10:11; Deuteronomy 33:10) and handed down judgements on it’s meaning.

    You simply didn’t read a copy of your pocket Torah and apply the law yourself. Also these are not just religious codes but civil ones as well. Judaism has a long tradition of humane application of even harsh Laws.

    >Is that criteria external to Yahweh’s Biblical word?

    Here you are assuming the Ancient Israelite believed in a form of Sola Scriptura & Perspicuity. Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and Orthodox Jews would deny scripture was meant to be read privately and employed alone.

    OTOH since I don’t wish to Protestant bash too much even I would admit some Reformation types would say they believe in Sola Scriptura and not Solo Scriptura. They would acknowledge under the Old Covenant the Priests and later the Rabbis interpreted the Law and applied it.

  • >then is that an admission that they were carried out in both ways, and that Yahweh’s “allowing for” occasional non-mutilation is what grants the Biblical moral codes the high ground over other ANE law codes?

    Here is the problem we don’t know for certain. Even if we deny the existence of God & by extension the divine inspiration of the Text how do we know these texts where meant to be applied literally?

    The Talmud is replete with vivid imagery of what gastly physical sufferings should be inflicted on the wicked by Divine Judgment yet it often very human in how criminals should be punished.

    >then wouldn’t this be the exact place in the text for a divine entity to demand such compensation “in lieu of revenge”?

    Again you are assuming the Text is the sole authority acting here. Even if I held the Protestant view the Priests & Judges had a role in implementing the law.

    Anyway that is my two cent.

  • Ben, you say “Oral Tradition is used also the Priests in the Old Covenant were teachers and judges; they explained the law to the people (Leviticus 10:11; Deuteronomy 33:10) and handed down judgements on it’s meaning.”

    What is “Oral Tradition”? Is it required to understand Scriptures accurately, i.e. is Scripture in itself open to error in interpretation without “Oral Tradition”?

    Also, if your premise is true, how did the “Priests in the Old Covenant” decide what “Oral Tradition” was true/divinely inspired; your hypothesis seems to preclude the ability to compare “Oral Tradition” to Scripture to validate the “Oral Tradition”.

  • Also Ben Yachov, is this a fair question to ask you to answer: Did the “Priests of the Old Covenant” ever interpret the lex talionis as requiring in-kind mutilation as punishment, and carry out sentences requiring in-kind mutilation? If they did so, did they do it in accord with Yahweh’s delivered law codes?

  • Ben Yacham, you quote me: “Is that criteria external to Yahweh’s Biblical word?”

    And then you say : “Here you are assuming the Ancient Israelite believed in a form of Sola Scriptura & Perspicuity.”

    I do no such thing. Please reconsider your ability to correctly “assume” what others are assuming in their questions. It is rampant on this thread. My question assumes nothing, it merely asks. Don’t even bother with your semantic justifications as to why question X automatically assumes Y, because I believe it will be uninteresting and unfruitful.

  • “Again you are assuming the Text is the sole authority acting here.”

    Again, no I am not assuming that. I am asking why a divine text is not clear about such punishments, particularly when an unclear understanding leads to in-kind mutilation.

    If you argue “it was clear at the time” (which I don’t concede, and I don’t think you do, because you are suggesting it required Oral Tradition and Priestly interpretation), why then is it not clear now to so many (even if it is clear to you/Copan/maybe Flannagan)?

  • @Enenennx

    >Please reconsider your ability to correctly “assume” what others are assuming in their questions. It is rampant on this thread.

    Fair enough & I apologize. But I’ve argued with Biblical skeptics before and universally they seem to treat Catholics as if they held the same views about the nature and role of Scripture as Evangelicals. Most likely this is because the usually only ever argue with Evangelicals but it is a phenomena I encounter often.

    >What is “Oral Tradition”?

    Divine revelation given outside of written scripture & handed down with it. For example what books make up either the Old or New Testament? Well there is no divinely inspired list in Scripture so we have to go too tradition.

    More later….

  • >Is it required to understand Scriptures accurately, i.e. is Scripture in itself open to error in interpretation without “Oral Tradition”?

    Naturally, like I said Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and Orthodox Jews reject the Reformation teaching of the Perspicuity. We simply done believe the Bible is absolutely plain (thought to be fair many Prots would say that’s not what they mean by it) in it’s meaning.

    There is nothing in the context of the words of Jesus “If thy right eye offends thee pluck it out” to suggest it should be taken in anyway but literal yet historically it is never understood literally.
    Indeed self-mutilation (i.e. damaging your flesh without a good medical reason) is a sin. Tradition tells us the meaning.

    >Also, if your premise is true, how did the “Priests in the Old Covenant” decide what “Oral Tradition” was true/divinely inspired;

    Moses would have given it to Aaron who in turn gave it to his sons and the elders of Israel. We would trust threw Divine Providence that God would preserve it.

    ;> your hypothesis seems to preclude the ability to compare “Oral Tradition” to Scripture to validate the “Oral Tradition”.

    Oral Tradition is not Scripture it along with Scripture is validated by those whom God gave authority.

    >I am asking why a divine text is not clear about such punishments, particularly when an unclear understanding leads to in-kind mutilation.

    This question assumes a Divine Text is meant to be clear and not interpreted via Tradition and Church. You are, forgive me, giving me a Protestant Assumption maybe without meaning too, that I reject.

    Let me spell it out for you so there is no confusion between us.

    Catholics do not believe Divine Texts are inherently clear. It like talking to strict Calvinists on Libertarian Free Will. We will hear none of it. That is not our assumption when we approach a Divine text.

    I hope I drove that point home.

  • >Please reconsider your ability to correctly “assume” what others are assuming in their questions. It is rampant on this thread.

    Again forgive me for that but it can’t be helped. We all have assumptions when we ask questions. It’s best to get them out in the open so there is no confusion.

    I am not asking to believe in Scripture, Catholicism or the Catholic view of Scripture. I am instructing you that Catholics reject the idea Divine Texts are inherently clear. Once you except this we can have a fruitful discussion. Hell I don’t care if you disbelieve till the day you die & God in His mercy forgives you anyway & grants you Heaven. It’s not my affair. But we need to be clear on the differences between Catholics vs Evangelicals.

    More later.

  • > why then is it not clear now to so many…

    A natural limitation of the written word wither Divinely Impired by god or profane is ambiguity. If written words where inherently perspicuous then we wouldn’t need courts, judges, teachers and Kings to interpret the Law. We would just have written documents everybody followed.

    But it doesn’t work that way.

    >Did the “Priests of the Old Covenant” ever interpret the lex talionis as requiring in-kind mutilation as punishment, and carry out sentences requiring in-kind mutilation?

    We don’t know about the early ones but even if we deny the existence of God we cannot exclude non-literal applications may have been the norm. Since OT Judaism could naturalistic-ally be seen as a reform over the more brutal near east paganism.

    OTOH around the Time of Jesus according to the Midrash, Mishna and Talmud the Sadducees held the lex talionis should be held literally but the Pharisees disputed them.

    Jesus said the Pharisees did truly sit in the Chair of Moses. Of course it was all elementary since the Romans took from the Jews the right to enforce Laws regarding the taking of a man’s life.

  • Ben Yachov you say: “Moses would have given it to Aaron who in turn gave it to his sons and the elders of Israel. We would trust threw Divine Providence that God would preserve it.”

    So, to be clear, you essentially believe that “Oral Tradition” has a sole source, and it’s source is Moses, and it has continued down to us unchanged as from the lips of Moses (via Divine Providence)?

    How do you then decide which line of “Oral Tradition” traces back to Moses, since their are numerous threads of oral tradition?

    You say “Let me spell it out for you so there is no confusion between us.

    Catholics do not believe Divine Texts are inherently clear. It like talking to strict Calvinists on Libertarian Free Will. We will hear none of it. That is not our assumption when we approach a Divine text.”

    You are going to attempt to “spell it out for me” and hope to “drive home the point” for me by changing the topic completely and dropping an analogy about “Calvinists” and “Libertarian Free Will” and expect somebody who might not care about either Calvinism or Libertarian Free Will to gain further insight. This seems ridiculous to me.

    How do you decide to whom “God gave authority” ,as is required for the validation of which “Oral Tradition” comes to been seen as valid interpretation of Scripture, according to the views you are espousing?

    To be clear, you believe the Divine Text is not clear UNLESS interpreted by the authority of the Church, as guided by tradition, yes?

    One wonders then how that first interpretation came about if there was no established Tradition or Church and only the Text
    itself? Or was the Text just the writing of already established Tradition to begin with, and there was never any literal Voice From Above, and no literal “Thus Saith The Lord”s?

  • Ben Yacham I asked: “Did the “Priests of the Old Covenant” ever interpret the lex talionis as requiring in-kind mutilation as punishment, and carry out sentences requiring in-kind mutilation?”

    You replied: “We don’t know about the early ones but even if we deny the existence of God we cannot exclude non-literal applications may have been the norm. Since OT Judaism could naturalistic-ally be seen as a reform over the more brutal near east paganism.”

    But isn’t that what you are claiming, that the Oral Tradition comes down from Moses (the earliest), in your attempts to exclude non-figurative interpretations of lex talionis.

    You say “we cannot exclude non-literal applications may have been the norm”. I feel this is the crux. Can we exclude that literal applications of lex talionis were the norm, or that they never occurred?

    You say “OT Judaism could naturalistic-ally be seen as a reform over the more brutal near east paganism.” This “could” is a hypothesis that can be researched, yes?

    May I hesitantly quote from Thom Stark’s review of Paul Copan’s Is God a Moral Copromiser. On page 47 or his review, Thom Stark says “Copan then states, again, that the
    Code of Hammurabi called for the cutting off of ears, noses, breaths, and hands (again omitting that his scholarly sources argue that these maimings should not be taken literally).” I believe (I am open to having misread anybody) that Thom Stark is saying that these other cultures (that you refer to as “near east paganism) had law codes existing around the time of the Biblical law codes which were already not taken literally, and thus what you see as a “reform over brutal near east paganism” is just a adoption of a non-literal interpretation of lex talionis type law codes found in other cultures at the time?

  • @Enenennx

    >So, to be clear, you essentially believe that “Oral Tradition” has a sole source, and it’s source is Moses, and it has continued down to us unchanged as from the lips of Moses (via Divine Providence)?

    I see no reason why it has to be restricted to Moses? Any Divinely inspired Prophet will do. Elijah. Micah etc

    >How do you then decide which line of “Oral Tradition” traces back to Moses, since their are numerous threads of oral tradition?

    Not a Question that I know of that Catholics have really tried to answer considering we believe the Old Covenant has been superseded by the New.

    I suppose the Pope could rule on the matter but why would he want too?
    The proper application of Laws we believe abrogated with the NT doesn’t come up.

    >You are going to attempt to “spell it out for me” and hope to “drive home the point” for me by changing the topic completely…

    Why are you fighting me on this? What is it about the brute fact Catholicism rejects perpetuity that bothers you? It’s not changing the topic. I have informed you Catholics do not believe this. Simply accept it & we can interact accordingly.

    >How do you decide to whom “God gave authority” ,as is required for the validation of which “Oral Tradition” comes to been seen as valid interpretation of Scripture, according to the views you are espousing?

    The question is kind of vague since you have not specified what era. Or is this a general question on how do I know what religion is true?(Of course isn’t that off topic? Hey I’m just saying….)

    Of course if I lived at the Time of Moses I would look to Moses and Joshua after Moses and the OT Church they built. It’s not hard.

    Today I look to the Pope.

    >To be clear, you believe the Divine Text is not clear UNLESS interpreted by the authority of the Church, as guided by tradition, yes?

    It is not definitively clear, but yes that is what I believe. It’s not absolutely obscure but private interpretation is condemned by Catholicism.

    >One wonders then how that first interpretation came about if there was no established Tradition or Church and only the Text
    itself?

    Forgive me for saying so again but that would be another Protestant assumption that Scripture preceded Church or Tradition. I reject it. Moses was around before he wrote anything. Just as the Nation of America was around before the Constitution. The Kynesya Yisrael (Nation/Church of Israel) was before scripture.

    Church & Tradition created Scripture. Not the other way around.

    >Or was the Text just the writing of already established Tradition to begin with, and there was never any literal Voice From Above, and no literal “Thus Saith The Lord”s?

    I don’t see why we must apriori assume Tradition is not the literal Voice From Above? Even in the Tanakh the Prophets ran round speaking orally to people. They clearly told them more than what was written. They spoke first before writing.

    >But isn’t that what you are claiming, that the Oral Tradition comes down from Moses (the earliest), in your attempts to exclude non-figurative interpretations of lex talionis.

    I see no reason it couldn’t have come from Moses? I see no evidence from the religious skeptic the early Priests held the literal interpretation. I see supposition and wishful thinking from enthusiastic extremists. But if I denied God tomorrow I see no hard evidence? I could just as easy believe God does not exist. Moses made a lot of stuff up and he never meant these Laws to be interpreted or applied literally.

    >This “could” is a hypothesis that can be researched, yes?

    I suppose. Just as Hector’s hypothesis the early Israelite religion taught infant sacrifice. But I don’t think archeology backs him up.

    >May I hesitantly quote from Thom Stark’s review

    If all things are equal then his hypothesis is possible too.

    (Thought I think he is a bit extreme if not over the top & I have trouble with his review)

    But I need proof the Priests in Moses time applied it literally. Barring proof a true agnostic view is in order. A believer has nothing to compel him to think otherwise.

    The existence of Arian heretics in the 4th century & Ebonites in the 2nd doesn’t preclude the early Apostles taught the True Deity of Christ. Nor does it preclude the Fathers of Nicea from being the Apostle’s True heirs.

    I see no reason why the Pharasees could not by divine providence be the heirs of Moses on this issue?

    Even if I loss my faith now….you still have to give me conclusive evidence before I accept this interpretation.

    Heck I don’t believe Muhammed from a hole in the head. But if someone tried to claim he really taught drinking Alchohol was good I would want to see hard evidence & I really don’t believe in Muhammed.

  • >Code of Hammurabi called for the cutting off of ears, noses, breaths, and hands (again omitting that his scholarly sources argue that these maimings should not be taken literally).”

    The Encyclopedia Judaicia note the Code taught “measure for measure”. The Rabbis argued “Eye for an Eye” is not so exact.

    Cutting off hands occurred in the Near East right up to the rise of Islam. Yet the human views of the Rabbis where present.

    So it’s not really a stract to me to believe the early Priest held the Pharisee view.

  • Sorry I was a little distracted as I wrote toward the end.

    Let me deal with this more closely.

    >I believe (I am open to having misread anybody) that Thom Stark is saying that these other cultures (that you refer to as “near east paganism) had law codes existing around the time of the Biblical law codes which were already not taken literally, and thus what you see as a “reform over brutal near east paganism” is just a adoption of a non-literal interpretation of lex talionis type law codes found in other cultures at the time?

    I reply:That’s interesting & would seem to vindicate the interpretation of the Pharisees and undermine any polemicist claim these texts are inhuman.

    OTOH Stark dogmatically rejects the doctrine of inerrant Scripture. Almost to the point of believe all charges of error must be presumed correct. Stark wants to vindicate the Canaanites from the idea they where a villainous people of child murderers and sexual perverts as Jewish Tradition portrays them. He objects to the idea God could have ordered Haram.

    But that is another kettle of fish and I don’t feel like tackling it since I would have to go into my infamous I’m a Classic Theist I reject Theistic Personalism rant.

    You thought my rant against perspecuity was bad…..

    Cheers!

  • Thom Stark address lex talionis on pages 46 to 56 of his book-length review titled: Is God a Moral Compromiser? A Critical Review of Paul Copan’s “Is God a Moral Monster?”

    Thom Stark seems to argue that among equals lex talionis laws were interpreted literally if injuries were permanent, and called for monetary remuneration in cases of healed injury (to account for lost wages).

    Thom Stark states that Copans’s claim that a verse like Lev 24:19-20 (Anyone who injures their neighbor is to be injured in the same manner: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. The one who has inflicted the injury must suffer the same injury) is to not be taken non-literally is without sufficient justification.

    My apologies to Thom Stark if I have misunderstood this part of his review that I am drawing on.

  • >Thom Stark states that Copans’s claim….is to not be taken non-literally is without sufficient justification.

    Why so? It seems given the Pharasees held a non-literal view vs the Sadducees who held the opposite, baring hard evidence of what the ancients did the only respectable view is Agnosticism at least from an academic view point.

    I’m afraid I must reject the idea it is literal till proven otherwise as the default position. Especially in light of Tradition.

  • What is your earliest evidence that permanent injury amongst peers is not to be met with in-kind mutilation, as is stated by the literal word in the Hebrew Scriptures (e.g. Lev 24:20). If this information has been offered above, I humbly ask that someone resubmit it here, in a brief paragraph, with a full quoting of sources, not a mere citing.

    Also, what is your evidence that the Pharisees’ view has a direct link to, or is the proper interpretation of, the “original interpretation” (viewed by you as a non-literal interpretation), Pharisees having predated that Pharisees by, what, a millenium?

    What is the evidence for Moses interpreting punishment for peers for permanent injury as not requiring in-kind mutilation? If this was made clear above, might someone provide some decent quotes and not mere citations?

    If the evidence for non-literal interpretation of in-kind mutilation of peer punishment for permanent injury comes from ANE cultures other than the ancient Israelites, can we at least then say that the Mosaic interpretation (of peer punishment for permanent injury as being non-literal, which is being contested here) was on par with other ANE cultures of the time, and is not the grand moral improvement that Copan suggests? Was Yahweh just verifying (via Israelites’ “Oral Tradition”) that, yes, the way they (other Canaanite cultures) are doing it, that’s the way I want you to do it, follow after them.

    Ben Yachov, I predict you or I will be responsible for the 100th comment on this thread.

    [When you say "The Pope", which Pope do you mean? Just kidding.]

  • [typo fix above, 2d paragraph last part]

    Originally I typed incorrectly: “”Pharisees having predated that Pharisees by, what, a millenium?

    I meant: “the Mosaic code having predated the Pharisees by, what, a millenium?”

  • @Enenennx

    100th post, yay me!

    >If this information has been offered above, I humbly ask that someone resubmit it here, in a brief paragraph, with a full quoting of sources, not a mere citing.

    It was in the other thread. You I note did not post there so it understandable you missed it:

    QUOTE”Matt Citing Westbrook.

    “Their interpretation seems strained to a modern reader. The introduction to the formula in Leviticus 24:19 is unequivocal: “If anyone maims a fellow, as he had done so shall it be done to him.” Scholars have therefore tended to see the rabbinic opinion as a disguised reform: the revision of a barbaric ancient law for a more enlightened age. It fit in with a developmental view of history going back to the eighteenth century, which saw humanity progressing in stages from unbridled revenge to controlled revenge to court-ordered compensation. This view was reinforced by the discovery of the Laws of Hammurabi, which revealed the existence of an explicit talionic provision hundreds of years earlier than the Torah (196-97):

    If a man destroys a man’s eye, they shall destroy his eye.

    If he breaks a man’s bone, they shall break his bone.

    The discovery of other and even older cuneiform codes, however, which require payment, not talio, has confused the picture. The old developmental view cannot be maintained, although various attempts have been made to modify it (Diamond 1957).”[2] [Emphasis mine]

    Also this from Westbrook.

    QUOTE“The rabbinical view may not be entirely unhistorical. The Roman Twelve Tables, roughly contemporary with the biblical codes, provides (I 13 [VIII 2]):

    If he destroys a limb, there shall be talio, unless he compounds with him.

    If ransom were a possible alternative to talionic revenge, then the approach of the Priestly source in Leviticus 24:19 is understandable. It is the same opposition to payment of ransom that P manifests in the case of homicide (Num. 35:31).

    The three references in the Torah to talio all consist of a list of injuries and maimed body parts, with slight variations in detail. Curiously, in none of the contexts in which they occur do they quite seem to fit. In Exodus, the list follows a case involving the miscarriage of a fetus; in Leviticus, that of a blasphemer, in a sequence that begins with the punishment of homicide and compensation for killing a sheep. In Deuteronomy, it supposedly represents the punishment of a false accuser. The overall impression is of an ancient maxim, applied wherever “measure for measure” is to be the standard of justice, whether or not the case involves any of the physical injuries listed. [3][Emphasis mine]END QUOTE

  • Ben Yachov, you quote Matthew Flannagan citing Westbrook: “The discovery of other and even older cuneiform codes, however, which require payment, not talio, has confused the picture. ”

    What are these older cuneiform codes and from which cultures?

    I think this you (Ben Yacham) quoting Flannagan quoting Westbrook”: “The three references in the Torah to talio all consist of a list of injuries and maimed body parts, with slight variations in detail. Curiously, in none of the contexts in which they occur do they quite seem to fit.”

    Are not the instances in which lex talionis is non in-kind mutilation punishment for a peer for permanent injury because it doesn’t fit the requirements (peer to peer injury, permanent injury) required for lex talionis punishments to be carried out? I.e. these are the exceptions that prove the rule; when peer to peer permanent injury described, in-kind mutilation is expected.

  • @Enenennx

    I think your are going to have to ask Matt these questions. That’s his area of expertise.

    For me however the bottom line is if these texts where understood literally and applied literally (via the moral development theory) then the burden of proof is on the accuser as it were.

    That is I need hard evidence these texts where implemented in the literal way back in ancient Israel. Otherwise I am predisposed to stick with the official tradition.

    Also much religious polemics in this area often presupposes a polemic against Evangelical Biblical Presuppositions.

    Those of us who are Catholic, Eastern Orthodox or Orthodox Jewish might not except those presuppositions and as such any said polemic is has no meaning.

    You may have the last word friend Enenennx. I enjoyed the discussion but now I am bored(no offense to you) & Video gaMES beckon.

    Cheers to you.

  • But you don’t seem to need “hard evidence” that peer to peer punishments for permanent injury is to be taken figuratively that supports the beliefs you choose? Because when I ask for it, and when we’ve finally whittled it down to brass tacks, you’re just gonna go, uh, well, you gotta ask Matthew Flannagan.

    You stating the burden of proof is on the “accuser” I fear suggests a bias. No one is accusing the text or the ancient Israelites of something, but instead an interpretation of a text is being put forth.

    I will take your sign off as coinciding with failure to provide evidence that peer to peer injury of a permanent matter is to be taken figuratively. Cheers, enjoy your games.

  • >I will take your sign off as coinciding with failure to provide evidence that peer to peer injury of a permanent matter is to be taken figuratively. Cheers, enjoy your games.

    Excuse me just to correct the record but when I jumped in here I was commenting on Avalos fundamentalist insistence these texts can only be interpreted literally.

    Thus the burden of proof is on the accuser(him). You have to prove the historical evidence these verse where implemented literally. Your failure to do so indicates failure to provide evidence they where implemented literally as well.

    I had already said in my earlier post QUOTE” It seems given the Pharisees held a non-literal view vs the Sadducee who held the opposite, baring hard evidence of what the ancients did the only respectable view is Agnosticism at least from an academic view point.

    I’m afraid I must reject the idea it is literal till proven otherwise as the default position. Especially in light of Tradition.END QUOTE

    I never once took on the burden of proof. I took up the burden of explaining the Catholic view.

    That’s not fair to sideswipe me that way.

  • >Because when I ask for it, and when we’ve finally whittled it down to brass tacks, you’re just gonna go, uh, well, you gotta ask Matthew Flannagan.

    That’s another thing. Every time I answer a question you ask another question and another and another…..>

    You asked “If this information has been offered above, I humbly ask that someone resubmit it” I answered then you asked ” What are these older cuneiform codes and from which cultures?” etc

    So I pass the buck & you pull a dick move of say “Ha! You can’t answer” even thought I told you I would never do that to someone.

    All this after I forgave you for calling me a troll out of the blue.

    Seriously dude.

    Uncool!

  • Ben Yachov, you say “Excuse me just to correct the record but when I jumped in here I was commenting on Avalos fundamentalist insistence these texts can only be interpreted literally.”

    Was Hector Avalos saying that the texts in question could only be interpreted literally, as you assume? I feel Hector Avalos was suggesting that the evidence is in favor of those texts are to be taken literally, and Hector was saying (I believe) that Copan’s claims that they are definitely NOT, and were never, taken literally was unsubstantiated.

    Why is not the burden of proof on Copan who argues that the texts were never taken literally (i.e. in-kind mutilation carried out for peer to peer permanent injury)?

    Can you direct me to your evidence that the Pharisees held a non-literal view of in-kind mutilation for peer to peeer permanent injury; and additionally can you direct me to your evidence that the Saducees had literal view of in-kind mutilation for peer to peer permanent injury. Additionally I would gratefully read the scholars I’m sure you have at your disposal that suggest it is the Pharisees’s interpretation that predates that of the Saducees. Both these groups, correct me if I’m wrong, seems to have arisen more than a millenium after the codes in question.

    Additionally Ben Yachov you say “baring hard evidence of what the ancients did the only respectable view is Agnosticism at least from an academic view point.”

    As Copan seems to deny that the literal interpretation of in-kind mutilation of peer to peer inflicted personal injury ever occured, in your opinion, is his view unrespectable, since Agnosticism, in your mind, is the only respectable stance from an adademic view point, and Copan’s stance is definitely not agnostic on this.

    I may keep asking questions because you keep bringing in more premises (e.g. assertions about Saducees and Phaisees, validity of Oral Tradition).

    I might be obtuse, but I don’t recall you providing (or Copan, or Flannagan) providing evidence that in-kind mutilation as punishment for permanent injury amongst peers was to be interpreted non-literally.

  • @ Enenennx

    You keep asking all these question when have you answered any of my questions?

    I have asked several which you ignored but I let it go. This stops now.

    Where have I taken on the burden of proof for the view this texts should not be taken literally?

    If you really want answers I told you to ask Matt but you baked?

    So really I no longer believe via your conduct you are acting in good faith.

  • You originally said:

    “I meant no disrespect and am offering my opinion as merely a mildly educated (much as most of the population) individual;”

    So for some reason I can’t do the same? I have prove every tangent to the n’th degree? I have to back up every assumption to the N’Th degree?

    I can’t defer to an expert?

    In the beginning I wrote up front ” Here is the problem we don’t know for certain. Even if we deny the existence of God & by extension the divine inspiration of the Text how do we know these texts where meant to be applied literally?

    The Talmud is replete with vivid imagery of what gastly physical sufferings should be inflicted on the wicked by Divine Judgment yet it often very human in how criminals should be punished. “END QUOTE

    We are not having the same conversation & you are clearly not being straight with me.

    So good day to you.

  • >Can you direct me to your evidence that the Pharisees held a non-literal view of in-kind mutilation for peer to peeer permanent injury;

    I could but I refuse. You troll game of making me document my every assertion to the N’th degree is tedious.

    Maybe for Hector & his fanboyz like you this is legitimate but for me it show when you accused me of being a troll you where projecting.

  • >Why is not the burden of proof on Copan who argues that the texts were never taken literally (i.e. in-kind mutilation carried out for peer to peer permanent injury)?

    Can you direct me to the the evidence Copan argues the texts were never taken literally?

    We are done! Or I will make you document all your assertions and claims to the N’th degree

  • Yachov vs the Loftus bots—-sort of like stalinists vs nazis

    We are not asked to accept the literal, historical reading of scripture, old T. or New–that was Hume’s mistake, carried down by the skeptics for the last 250+ years, down to the Sam-bots (tho, thats not to say history doesn’t have some relation to the New Testament, or that the Old T. monotheistic code should be accepted as dogma).

    The story of Jesus is like, metaphorical.

  • No the story of Jesus is history that is Tradition.

  • Ah it’s J the Atheist!

    You hate Loftus?

    Weird.

  • where did I say I was an atheist Benstein?

    I didn’t. Not upholding monotheistic dogma or Roody Giuliani-catholicism-lite does not an atheist make.

  • For example, were you to scroll though my blog you’d note I do not agree with Sam Harris’s views on about anything. His recent attempts to justify strict determinism are IMHE quite misguided, about the non-believer equivalent of like…say Ed Feser’s attempts to justify judeo-christian dogma (in some odd way, the atheist determinist not so different than calvinists and spinoza sorts–in each case, the human, and dare we say normative element has been removed).

  • Good to know. As long as it affirms your basic Ok’ness & super dooperness.

  • I’m out of here………

  • Profound.

    Maybe we scroll back a few years and note like your approval of Bush-Cheney, and Feser’s machiavellian agenda. Which is to say, you and the EF gang are hardly in line with the tradition of JP II. More like Randians who may take Mass at times (the view of many in the LA Diocese as well, hermano benito)

  • For the record I hypothesized you might be a troll early on in our discussion. I have treated you as if you are not since you demonstrated yourself to not be so.

    I imagine Matthew Flannagan reads his threads. I have suggested I am eager to hear his answers to my questions that I pose to you and this thread (I thought that was how blog threads work).

    When you straight up refuse to direct me to the evidence you intimate you have regarding the assertions you make about Pharasees and Saducees, I can only be disheartened. My experience is that those who directly refuse to point to the sources that support their assertions either 1) don’t have those resources or 2) those resources don’t exist or 3) those resources don’t actually support what the person making assertions claims.

  • >For the record I hypothesized you might be a troll early on in our discussion. I have treated you as if you are not since you demonstrated yourself to not be so.

    You threw out the troll charge because you couldn’t argue rationally against my polemic against Avarlos demanding Matt only answer Yes or no to his question.

    Nothing more.

    You are disingenuous and you have shameless double standards.

    It’s that simple.

  • >When you straight up refuse to direct me to the evidence you intimate you have regarding the assertions you make about Pharasees and Saducees,

    It’s in the Wikipedia and the Encylopedia Judaica. If you are too stupid to use google that is not my problem.

  • BTW you still haven’t answered any of my questions.

    Till you do I will not answer any of yours.

    Live with it.

  • >My experience is that those who directly refuse to point to the sources that support their assertions either 1) don’t have those resources or 2) those resources don’t exist or 3) those resources don’t actually support what the person making assertions claims.

    Yet when i answered you questions you kept asking more & more & more & you in essence demand I document everything I say yet exempt yourself from that rule.

    That’s troll behavior.

  • So this is the New Atheism?

    Sophistry, hypocrisy, phony civility and nuts cases like J?

    You can have it.

    I’ll take either Old Atheism or Catholic Christianity. Preferably Catholic Christianity.

  • I’m not sure if I should expect a tirade or an apology next from Ben Yachov.

  • In regards to the charge I’m not answering your questions I have culled your comments and collected your questions. I will list and answer them here.

    First, the questions you ask which I presume are rhetorical?

    - BY: What is wrong with that?
    Ya got a problem with that buddy? Seriously?
    - BY: I suppose the Pope could rule on the matter but why would he want too?
    - BY: Why are you fighting me on this? What is it about the brute fact Catholicism rejects perpetuity that bothers you?

    I don’t know how to answer these.

    Next, your question about the direction of this thread:

    -BY: What is the “main issue” here other that I reject Hector’s irrational demand of Matt for answers that fit his Procrustean bed and not complete answers?

    The issue evolved (just as naturally occurs in conversation) to your assertions about Pharisees and Saducees. Besides, I am unable to make sense of the rest of that question.

    Finally, your most recent question:

    Thom Stark states that Copans’s claim….is to not be taken non-literally is without sufficient justification.

    -BY: Why so? It seems given the Pharasees held a non-literal view vs the Sadducees who held the opposite, baring hard evidence of what the ancients did the only respectable view is Agnosticism at least from an academic view point.

    In answering this question I directed you to a rather specific source and attempted to summarize it as best I could. Regarding the Pharisees, please see my next comment.

    I don’t think you are asking as many questions as you think you might be. You are mostly asserting a lot of things

  • Expect Neither.

    Bye.

  • It seems the Pharisees held that lex talion could be interpreted in the following manner: in the case of injury the victim could choose either monetary remuneration or in-kind punitive mutilation.

    In “Lex Talionis in Early Judaism and the Echortation of Jesus in Matthew 5.38-42″ by James F. Davis, copyright 2005, Davis says on page 72 the following:

    “Josephus, like Philo, provides a significant data point for the lex talionis in the first century AD. While he interprets the ‘life for life” provision as applying in a literal fashion, he makes allowance on the maiming portion for financial compensation, but at the discretion of the victim. At the discretion of the victim a literal maiming talion may be imposed.”

    I don’t know how to read this or whether or not how to find whether this is reliable. Do you have any thoughts? It appears the Pharisees viewed in-kind mutilation as acceptable, according to this source, yes?

  • If you can handle answering or offering guidance on the above comment that seems to contradict your assertions about the Pharisees I will ignore that you have said ‘goodbye’, like, four times now.

  • >In answering this question I directed you to a rather specific source and attempted to summarize it as best I could.

    Oh so it’s Ok for you to pass the buck to Stark but if I do it to Matt you snark at me?

    Thanks for nothing.

  • Loftus is a moron, sort of a dyslexic Hume. (And since Avalos hangs with Loftus…well connect the dots)

    That’s the problem. (not to defend Yachov either) What sort of intelligent believer (or agnostic) demands strict scriptural inerrancy anyway? So…lex talionus was in force in some areas. The message of the New Testament refutes or greatly modifies the lex talionis.

    Loftus and his little gang of wiccans really don’t understand the game—(or maybe they got …somethin’ somethin to hide). An insult to the tradition of Bertrand Russell (as are most of the neo-atheists, Harris especially).

  • >If you can handle answering or offering guidance on the above comment that seems to contradict your assertions about the Pharisees I will ignore that you have said ‘goodbye’, like, four times now.

    You addressed me first. I graciously offered you the last word which you abused with your sideswipe.

    So drop it. You have abused my trust & that is the end of it.

  • It seems the Pharisees held that lex talion could be interpreted in the following manner: in the case of injury the victim could choose either monetary remuneration or in-kind punitive mutilation.

    In “Lex Talionis in Early Judaism and the Echortation of Jesus in Matthew 5.38-42″ by James F. Davis, copyright 2005, Davis says on page 72 the following:

    “Josephus, like Philo, provides a significant data point for the lex talionis in the first century AD. While he interprets the ‘life for life” provision as applying in a literal fashion, he makes allowance on the maiming portion for financial compensation, but at the discretion of the victim. At the discretion of the victim a literal maiming talion may be imposed.”

    I don’t know how to read this or whether or not how to find whether this is reliable. Do you have any thoughts? It appears the Pharisees viewed in-kind mutilation as acceptable, according to this source, yes?

  • Remember this one?

    >Because when I ask for it, and when we’ve finally whittled it down to brass tacks, you’re just gonna go, uh, well, you gotta ask Matthew Flannagan.

    Yet I didn’t complain when you passed the buck by an ambiguous reference to a 300 page tome he wrote which was a 100 pages longer than the book he was criticizing?

    Hypocrite much?

  • Behind a lot of words from your part Ben Yachov, your main contribution to this thread were some assertions about the Pharisees and the Saducees. I have now google and consulted some wikipedia and google books and the info I stumbled on seems to contradict your assertions, which is why I resubmitted my questions above. If you can offer specific sources (I now ask a third time) for your assertions I will be grateful.

  • My reference to Thom Stark’s book (which I am open to having misunderstood and claimed so) was NOT ambiguous. It as a narrow 10 pages in an easy to find book on the web. To say this was an ambiguous reference is a lie, and you know it is a lie.

  • Judaism

    George Robinson characterizes the passage of Exodus that contains the principle of lex talionis (“an eye for an eye”) as one of the “most controversial in the Bible”. According to Robinson, some have pointed to this passage as evidence of the vengeful nature of justice in the Hebrew Bible.[6] Similarly, Abraham Bloch asserts that the “lex talionis has been singled out as a classical example of biblical harshness.”[7]

    Harry S. Lewis points to Lamech, Gideon and Samson as Biblical heroes who were renowned for “their prowess in executing blood revenge upon their public and private enemies.” Lewis asserts that this “right of ‘wild’ justice was gradually limited.”[8] Isaac Kalimi explains that the “lex talionis was humanized by the Rabbis who interpreted it to mean pecuniary compensation. As in the case of the lex talionis, humanization of the law replaces the peshat of the written Torah law.[9] Pasachoff and Littman point to the reinterpretation of the lex talionis as an example of the ability of Pharisaic Judaism to “adapt to changing social and intellectual ideas.”[10] Stephen Wylen asserts that the lex talionis is “proof of the unique value of each individual” and that it teaches “equality of all human beings for law.”[11]

    The Talmud (in Bava Kamma, 83b-84a), interprets the verses referring to “an eye for an eye” and similar expressions as mandating monetary compensation in tort cases and argues against the interpretations by Sadducees that the Bible verses refer to physical retaliation in kind, using the argument that such an interpretation would be inapplicable to blind or eyeless offenders. Since the Torah requires that penalties be universally applicable, the phrase cannot be interpreted in this manner.

    The Oral Law explains, based upon the biblical verses, that the Bible mandates a sophisticated five-part monetary form of compensation, consisting of payment for “Damages, Pain, Medical Expenses, Incapacitation, and Mental Anguish” — which underlies many modern legal codes. Some rabbinic literature explains, moreover, that the expression, “An eye for an eye, etc.” suggests that the perpetrator deserves to lose his own eye, but that biblical law treats him leniently. − Paraphrased from the Union of Orthodox Congregations[12]

    However, the Torah also discusses a form of direct reciprocal justice, where the phrase ayin tachat ayin makes another appearance (Dt 19:16–21). Here, the Torah discusses false witnesses who conspire to testify against another person. The Torah requires the court to “do to him as he had conspired to do to his brother” (Dt 19:19). Assuming the fulfillment of certain technical criteria (such as the sentencing of the accused whose punishment was not yet executed), wherever it is possible to punish the conspirators with exactly the same punishment through which they had planned to harm their fellow, the court carries out this direct reciprocal justice (including when the punishment constitutes the death penalty). Otherwise, the offenders receive lashes.[13]

    Since there is no form of punishment in the Torah that calls for the maiming of an offender, there is no case where a conspiratorial false witness could possibly be punished by the court injuring to his eye, tooth, hand, or foot. (There is one case where the Torah states “…and you shall cut off her hand…” Dt 25:11–12. The sages of the Talmud understood the literal meaning of this verse as referring to a case where the woman is attacking a man in potentially lethal manner. This verse teaches that, although one must intervene to save the victim, one may not kill a lethal attacker if it is possible to neutralize that attacker through non-lethal injury {Sifrei; Maimonides’ Yad, Nezikin, Hil. Rotze’ach u’Sh’mirat Nefesh 1:7}. Regardless, there is no verse that even appears to mandate injury to the eye, tooth, or foot.) Thus, it is impossible to read “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” literally in the context of a conspiratorial witness.

    Numbers 35:9–30 discusses the only form of remotely reciprocal justice not carried out directly by the court, where, under very limited circumstances, someone found guilty of negligent manslaughter may be killed by a relative of the deceased who takes on the role of “redeemer of blood”. In such cases, the court requires the guilty party to flee to a designated city of refuge. While the guilty party is there, the “redeemer of blood” may not kill him. If, however, the guilty party illegally forgoes his exile, the “redeemer of blood”, as an accessory of the court, may kill the guilty party. Nevertheless, the provision of the “redeemer of blood” does not serve as true reciprocal justice, because the redeemer only acts to penalize a negligent killer who forgoes his exile. Furthermore, intentional killing does not parallel negligent killing and thus cannot serve directly as a reciprocal punishment for manslaughter, but as a penalty for escaping punishment (Makot 7a–13a). (According to traditional Jewish Law, application of these laws requires the presence and maintenance of the biblically designated cities of refuge, as well as a conviction in an eligible court of 23 judges as delineated by the Torah and Talmud. The latter condition is also applicable for any capital punishment. These circumstances have not existed for approximately 2,000 years.)
    [edit] Objective of reciprocal justice in Judaism

    The Talmud discusses the concept of justice as measure-for-measure retribution (middah k’neged middah) in the context of divinely implemented justice. Regarding reciprocal justice by court, however, the Torah states that punishments serve to remove dangerous elements from society (“…and you shall eliminate the evil from your midst,” Deut. 19:19) and to deter potential criminals from violating the law (“And the rest shall hear and be daunted, and they shall no longer commit anything like this wicked deed in your midst”, Dt 19:20). Additionally, reciprocal justice in tort cases serves to compensate the victim (see above).

    The ideal of vengeance for the sake of assuaging the distress of the victim plays no role in the Torah’s conception of court justice, as victims are cautioned against even hating or bearing a grudge against those who have harmed them. The Torah makes no distinction between whether the potential object of hatred or a grudge has been brought to justice, and all people are taught to love their fellow human beings(Lv 19:17–18).End QUOTE

    ^ Wylen, Stephen M. (2005). The seventy faces of Torah: the Jewish way of reading the Sacred Scriptures. Paulist Press. p. 20.
    ^ Torah, Union of Orthodox Congregations.
    ^ Makot 1:1; ibid., Bab. Talmud 2a based on critical exegesis of Dt 25:1–3)

  • I go to far. My reference was not ambiguous, it was very clear and concise. And you know it is not ambiguous, as you claim it to be. It was an example of not clear word choice by you, but I know not if it was a lie on your part, and I doubt it was.

  • >My reference to Thom Stark’s book (which I am open to having misunderstood and claimed so) was NOT ambiguous. It as a narrow 10 pages in an easy to find book on the web. To say this was an ambiguous reference is a lie, and you know it is a lie.

    You gave me you characterization but you didn’t cite him directly.

    Yet elsewhere you demanded I give direct quote but refused citations. Also I cited Westbrook you whined about that.

    Like I said hypocrite.

    OH & BTW
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eye_for_an_eye

  • >In “Lex Talionis in Early Judaism and the Echortation of Jesus in Matthew 5.38-42″ by James F. Davis, copyright 2005, Davis says on page 72 the following:

    >“Josephus, like Philo, provides a significant data point for the lex talionis in the first century AD. While he interprets the ‘life for life” provision as applying in a literal fashion, he makes allowance on the maiming portion for financial compensation, but at the discretion of the victim. At the discretion of the victim a literal maiming talion may be imposed.”

    Let’s give you a taste of your own medicine. Where does Josepjus or Phlo literally say any of this? Give quotes from them.

  • So, it appears the Pharisees viewed in-kind mutilation as acceptable way to carry out the Law, yes?

  • Lex talionis in early Judaism and the exhortation of Jesus in Matthew 5.38-42
    By James F. Davis, James Frederick Davis

    According to page 70 of the same book Josepheus was not considered a representative of normative Judaism because of his collaboration with the romans and his view contradicted the Mishna and the Talmud.

    see online copy here

    http://books.google.com/books?id=eMoSyifgS5cC&pg=PA70&lpg=PA70&dq=Josephus+lex+talionis&source=bl&ots=nMKDDAvQRd&sig=UpBjlUV43vjOOC6jvcHNnrLqzpw&hl=en&ei=DY8XTs_oCKnn0QHBqOiWBQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBgQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Josephus%20lex%20talionis&f=false

  • Ben Yachov you say “Let’s give you a taste of your own medicine. Where does Josepjus or Phlo literally say any of this? Give quotes from them.”

    Davis points to Josephus in Antiquities 4.280. Davis references this on page 70 of his book. I would gladly cut and paste it here, but I don’t know how to cut and paste from google books. But if you google books Davis’s book and scroll to page 70, it’s right there.

  • >So, it appears the Pharisees viewed in-kind mutilation as acceptable way to carry out the Law, yes?

    Why because of Josephus? One man? That’s like saying all Catholic Priests believe in Sola Fide because Fr. Martin Luther did.

  • So is Josephus an unreliable source on this material?

  • Productive thread here for the last few comments. I must retire for the evening.

  • But on page 71, Davis says “However” (in response to the critics that he is not speaking on behalf of “normative Judaism”), a strong case can be made that Josephus is commenting on Jewish Law from a Jewish perspective

  • >Davis points to Josephus in Antiquities 4.280. Davis references this on page 70 of his book. I would gladly cut and paste it here, but I don’t know how to cut and paste from google books. But if you google books Davis’s book and scroll to page 70, it’s right there.

    I am way ahead of you. I just gave a link. Amazing what context does eh?

    He could just as easily been refering to Roman Law since the refer to poision is not found in Torah.

    It is likely he was taking the middle ground between the Pharisees vs the Sadducee.

  • >So is Josephus an unreliable source on this material?

    Sola Josephus yes.

  • All this vindicates my original claim & the Catholic Claim Scripture is not clear.

    Still we need hard evidence it was originally held literally?

    You can not demand the non-literal must provide all the evidence and the literal the presumed view.

  • >but I don’t know how to cut and paste from google books.

    Again let’s provide a link:
    http://books.google.com/books?id=eMoSyifgS5cC&pg=PA70&lpg=PA70&dq=Josephus+lex+talionis&source=bl&ots=nMKDDAvQRd&sig=UpBjlUV43vjOOC6jvcHNnrLqzpw&hl=en&ei=DY8XTs_oCKnn0QHBqOiWBQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBgQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Josephus%20lex%20talionis&f=false

    Davis goes on to make a case Poision was reference to verse in Exod 21 & 22. He mentions there was no uniform view at the time which I showed from my citation from the wiki & Josephus was taking the middle view. He also concedes Josephus might have been trying to make Judaism more palatable to the Romans.

    He end by asking retorically why if this was not normative then why was it debated in the Talmud?

    Speaking as a Catholic that is like asking why was the Deity of Christ debated at Nicea? Because heretics keep bringing it up.

    The Sadducee believed only in the Law of Moses alone. They rejected the Prophets and the Writings and the resurrection.

    Yet they are the harbingers of the literal interpretation?

    Not impressed since the normative Jewish religion is bigger than the Sadducees.

  • >I have now google and consulted some wikipedia and google books and the info I stumbled on seems to contradict your assertions,

    You really are obtuse. I both quoted the wiki & provided a link to is as well as a link to Davis who you clearly misrepresented.

    You OTOH demand I document my claims but content yourself to make undocument accusations like you do above.

    Yet you act surprised as to why I am pissed you? You really are obtuse!

    Anyway anybody can read the links for themselves and see they are consistent with what I was saying.

    Now I am done. I will force myself to ignore this thread. So go ahead lie misrepresent me. Make claims I didn’t make. Put the burden of proof on me while refusing to give any evidence the ancients held this text literally outside of some scholars interpretive opinion which contradicts others interpretive opinion.

    Little skin off my neck I still don’t believe in private interpretation or the perpetuity of scripture.

    I have nothing more to say to you.

  • Parting shot:

    >So is Josephus an unreliable source on this material?

    What does your own source say “This text has been debated and at best only partially been accepted as representing a view of Judaism.” [emphasis added].

    Next time read your own source more carefully before you cast aspersions.

  • May I hesitantly quote from Thom Stark’s review of Paul Copan’s Is God a Moral Copromiser. On page 47 or his review, Thom Stark says “Copan then states, again, that the
    Code of Hammurabi called for the cutting off of ears, noses, breaths, and hands (again omitting that his scholarly sources argue that these maimings should not be taken literally).” I believe (I am open to having misread anybody) that Thom Stark is saying that these other cultures (that you refer to as “near east paganism) had law codes existing around the time of the Biblical law codes which were already not taken literally, and thus what you see as a “reform over brutal near east paganism” is just a adoption of a non-literal interpretation of lex talionis type law codes found in other cultures at the time?

    Your welcome to also read my discussion with Stark on this point at Randal Rauser’s blog http://randalrauser.com/2011/06/reflections-on-the-thom-stark-paul-copan-debate/#comments-wrap. Here is the exchange:

    Matt says:
    Thursday, June 23, 2011 at 1:06am
    “The context was one where I was critiquing Copan for maligning other ancient Near Eastern law codes as barbaric, while defending Israel’s barbaric laws with the argument that they weren’t meant to be taken literally. I pointed out that the same scholars Copan cites who argue that Israel’s laws were not always meant to be taken literally also made the same argument for the ancient Near Eastern laws that Copan was maligning by contrast to Israel. Then I made the statement quoted above. So my point was that, in my estimation, Copan’s commitment to the Bible was responsible for this inconsistency in his application of the scholarship.”

    I don’t have Paul’s book to hand, but I think this is a misunderstanding of his argument. From memory Paul suggested the non literal reading as an alternative perspective to his main line of argument which you mention’s, he was not intending both to be taken together conjuctively but disjunctively.

    I suspect this is the case , because after Paul had finished the main draft we corresponded over this very issue and he added those references afterword’s.

    In my PhD thesis I had done a large chapter on one of the Lex tallonis passages in the book of Exodus. Hector Avalos had written an article criticising Paul, in it Avalos contended that there was no evidence that the lex tallonis was non-literal followed, but less than a page latter he cited the authority of Raymond Westbrook to attack Paul on another issue. This surprised me because Westbrook was one of several who had argued for a non literal reading of this passage.

    Just before the book went to print, Paul contacted me and asked me for my sources on this so I referred Copan to various sources and so he, added a reference to their position as an alternative to the main line of argument. I think its a mistake to read this as a single argument its more a disjunct, if you read it literally then X on the other hand if you read it non literally then Z.

    Reply

    Thom Stark says:
    Thursday, June 23, 2011 at 1:11am

    That maybe but that wasn’t at all clear on his presentation. I’m happy to be corrected.

    End of exchange on that topic.

  • BTW to anyone else following this tedieous discussion. That book by James F. Davis is very informative. I just been reading it. Sadly many of the pages are omitted and as such they leave out the opinions of various scholars whose names I recognize.

    But it’s a good read. Thought I think his opinion that the Text was taken literally in ancient judaism kind of begs the question. It references the Roman 12 tablets on page 4 is telling though.

  • I just finished reading Paul Copan’s reply to Hector in the link above and his answer to him on his demand for a Yes or No response on Westbrook’s view on Leviticus 24:17-22 in regards to taking it literally.

    Well Copan contacted the co-author of the Book in question and asked him!

    (Westbrook is dead you see and we can”t ask him)

    I’m not going to give any dirrect spoilers

    What can I say but “Ouch! That is gotta hurt Loftus & Hector”!

    Of course if I was an Atheist I could very well agree with Copan that the human interpretation he gives to these texts is more than plausible and likely the view. I just wouldn’t believe there was a God who was the ultimate author. Also I wouldn’t waste my time in useless polemics against a Text I already believe as a Catholic is not completely clear & can have more than one interpretation. I’d either try to come up with some philosophical arguments against the existence of God or I would start reading Ayn Rand and ignore God.

    Thank God this is not going to happen anytime soon. But there you have it.

  • some philosophical arguments against the existence of God

    well, the bloody, inconsistent, a-historical nature of the Old Testament aka Septuagint will suffice as one. From a historical/archaeological POV the OT has little more credibility than the …Book of Mormon. –tho’ granted some moving passages (cue “Exodus theme”;…..). even Spinoza denied its historical credibility and said it was mostly …myth.

  • [...] will find his interpretative solutions novel. For example, in the (now much discussed) Deuteronomy 25:11-12 passage, Copan concludes that the English translations have it all [...]

  • [...] this book. In the mean time, there have been some exchanges between Paul Copan, Hec­tor Avalaos, Matthew Flan­na­gan, and Thom Stark con­cern­ing Copan’s answers, so if you can’t wait for my review, you might [...]

  • [...] things started earlier with an exchange between and Avalos and Matthew Flanagan. See Flanagan’s Hector Avalos and Careful, Non-Selective Citation of Sources for links and comments on that part of the discussion.)  Specifically, Avalos argued that in [...]