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How much continuity?

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    Posted: 14 Oct 2017 at 00:50
I am curious about what other people think regarding how much (or how little) continuity there was between the Pre-exile Judeans and the post-exile Judeans. How much of Judean culture was destroyed by the Babylonian captivity?  Is it fair to say that there is a continuity in the culture, or is there a huge break?  

Not that this break is necessarily all bad, it divorces the religion from the ties that make it a particular, localized religious cult, and makes it more universal, less physically tied down.  It makes the religion more iconoclastic, less idolatrous, or at least starts it down this path.  It also makes it so that the religion depends on a written text, Torah, and eventually, the Hebrew Bible as a whole (Tanakh).  

But, we should be honest that that written text has gone through a strainer of time, and strife, and the priorities of the priesthood in putting something together after the break.  How fair is it to say that Judaism goes back beyond the Babylonian captivity (580? BC), back past a break of about, what, maybe 60 years?  Of course a lot of material goes back earlier than that, but how much can we say that the Jewish religion goes back?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vanuatu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Oct 2017 at 02:09
Thinking of Ezra and lists of those returning from exile, and those who came with each of those 8 people. Since the lists still exist, not just of returning exiles but lists of many types, I'd say the link is very strong in terms of identity and in the practice. The exile is a dominant element of the Jewish identity. Would you agree?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Oct 2017 at 03:08
Yes, exile is a dominant theme, but the question is did the post-exilic Jews overcome the exile, or did exile fundamentally shape what came afterward, shape it in a way that radically changed the direction from what came before exile.  Jews and Christians might like to think that the exiles picked up just from where they left off.  I tend to think that there was a fundamental change, and not only a fundamental change, but a (albeit incomplete) rewriting of what went on before, to match up with what was later.  Now part of this writing got away from the pagan, local deity of Yahweh of a henotheism towards a more solid monotheism, a jealous God.  The God of Exodus, "I am who I am."  I just think that the spiritual being of Yahweh does not go back to Moses.  It goes back to the J source (Jahwist), in the time of the court of Solomon or David.  These sources orally go back earlier, but to portray them as reflecting a Pentateuch given by Moses.  Well, I prefer to accept the Bible in all its complications.  That means that, unless we draw a rabbit out of a hat we can go so far.  And probably the biggest division we have from "what really happened" lies in exilic period, taking the amorphous mass of disentangled material coming from before the exile, and working it into some semblance of order, of the written tradition and the oral tradition.  But, a lot probably was cut out in the process.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Oct 2017 at 03:57
Let me give a comparison, how much do you think there is a continuity in American Indian traditions (and of course we are talking about traditions, plural, with each having a different history and circumstances.  The Indian tribes were only prohibited from practicing their religion, their ceremonies for, what? a generation or two?  ("only")  But it seems like there was a loss of inertia, of tradition, of momentum.  They are reclaiming their religion, but the mere fact they have to reclaim it shows that there was a big interruption.

Vanuatu, looking at the passage you gave, it seems like the Levites really lost out, and the priests really won.  It sounds like maybe the Levites worshipped on the High Places, and when they came back, the inertia had shifted to the Temple.  It also sound like many of the courtiers and the proselytites lost out because they were of foreign origin.  Before the exile happened, I assume that the religion was a rather dynamic entity, after the exile, it probably was reactionary, trying to get back to an old time religion, that never really existed.

I think America is great, but I think the force behind the saying, "make America great again," has some of that get back to the good ol' days, (that were never that good). 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vanuatu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Oct 2017 at 17:48
Quote  Now part of this writing got away from the pagan, local deity of Yahweh of a henotheism towards a more solid monotheism, a jealous God.  The God of Exodus, "I am who I am."  I just think that the spiritual being of Yahweh does not go back to Moses. 

I'm a little baffled here, Moses was asked the name of God after he saw the "burning bush" The answer was "I Am Who Am" that's Moses baby.

Asherah was the wife of Yaweh? Remember that discussion? The clay figures of Asherah date back to 750 bce Moses lifetime estimated at 1400 bce
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vanuatu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Oct 2017 at 18:45
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

Let me give a comparison, how much do you think there is a continuity in American Indian traditions (and of course we are talking about traditions, plural, with each having a different history and circumstances.  The Indian tribes were only prohibited from practicing their religion, their ceremonies for, what? a generation or two?  ("only")  But it seems like there was a loss of inertia, of tradition, of momentum.  They are reclaiming their religion, but the mere fact they have to reclaim it shows that there was a big interruption.

Vanuatu, looking at the passage you gave, it seems like the Levites really lost out, and the priests really won.  It sounds like maybe the Levites worshipped on the High Places, and when they came back, the inertia had shifted to the Temple.  It also sound like many of the courtiers and the proselytites lost out because they were of foreign origin.  Before the exile happened, I assume that the religion was a rather dynamic entity, after the exile, it probably was reactionary, trying to get back to an old time religion, that never really existed.

I think America is great, but I think the force behind the saying, "make America great again," has some of that get back to the good ol' days, (that were never that good). 

Pretty amazing that Judea was just waiting for the return from exile.
The Levites sound a bit like the First Church Fathers vs the intellectualizing, Clement of A, Origen etc.

Some of the Native Americans held the oral traditions but truly after the forced move to reservations and huge generational gaps it appears more Identity was lost than preserved. Now the Seminoles in Florida never surrendered to the US military. They knew how to hide & fight in swamps. They are distinct for that reason but the legacy is mixed bc we are no longer talking about purely Native American blood lines. People of other tribes and races mixed with the Seminoles.  

Jews have grown in scope and identity and if the lists came from exile with them can't we expect to see most of the pre exile connections? On each occasion of exile? Not an easy answer but very good food for thought.

I don't know that the Levites lost out, it reads like they chose to stay away. As though they had a Druid/nature based religiosity. From the article;

 "Some speculate that the Levites were particularly invested in worship at the high places, scattered on the hills all around pre-exilic Israel and Judah. The purifying fires of exile effectively burned out this idolatrous impulse, and therefore few Levites wanted to return to the Promised Land."

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Oct 2017 at 22:41
I am saying that I suspect the God of Exodus is too sophisticated for 1400 BC, or maybe Yahweh is there in the form of a core idea, but there are also, I suspect, pagan elements that are still part of that time which get written out of the picture as time goes on.  It is not just that the tribal religion of the Hebrews and the Israelite/Judean people have a continual problem with an "external" pagan polytheism.  It is that that the problem is internal, but becomes external.  First, "one shall have no other gods before me." (but that implies there are other gods.) Yahweh is one god amongst others who becomes _the_ One God.  First, the one God for the 'Jewish' people, then the one God for everybody through Christianity on the one hand, and then Islam.  Asherah, his wife and others get written out of the story, but even today, there are still traces of the others gods, archaeologically and in text.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vanuatu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Oct 2017 at 00:44
IMHO, no Yahweh is not too sophisticated for neolithic people. The others are written out of the story over the millennia yes, and so Yahweh would have evolved. Abraham and Issac / Cain & Able are THE stories that demonstrate the neolithic fears of pleasing God and retribution. 

Yahweh could take anything from you even make you do it yourself. Is this the same God that told (probably) Thutmose II to Let My People Go? Seems more like love than control here. 

The internal does become external like the medieval peasants seeing the Renaissance St Francis paintings. You can bet that the level of mind in serious religious practitioners living within a strict prayer and ritual regimen, would envisage deeper meanings in their beliefs as a matter of course.

What is the Core Idea of the God Yahweh? I say the idea means that generations will be preserved when observances are met. And suffering to those who fail at observing the Patriarch.

That idea has not changed in the Judeo Christian tradition.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Oct 2017 at 23:16
If there is literacy, (ten commandments), then it is not neolithic, if it is neolithic, there is not literacy.  But one could say that it is not neolithic and they got literacy from the Egyptians.  The structure of the covenant in the Pentateuch is one of a suzerainty-vassal treaty, with Yahweh as the Suzerain and the people as the vassals, and the Ten commandments as the conditions of the suzerain.  It is a neat structure, but presupposes knowledge of the Mesopotamian treaty structure usual between a great king, and lesser kings.  What the Hebrews do is turn it inward and make it between a god and his people.  But if that is done then, then why does this pesky Asherah come creeping back in later?  Now neither the literacy or the Suzerainty-Vassal Treaties are strictly anachronistic for the supposed time of Moses (an Egyptian name suffix, as in Thutmose), and one could say that they are possible for an exceptional individual at that time, or they could be put together by J, E, P, D sources, 400-500 years later in the courts of Solomon, David and after.  J, E. P and D each have their own agendas which are competing, but also complimenting each other.

For Judaism, the core idea is chosenness. and one's obligations under chosenness.  Christianity adds on forgiveness of sins and union with God in the after life.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vanuatu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Oct 2017 at 13:16
Quote For Judaism, the core idea is chosenness. and one's obligations under chosenness.  Christianity adds on forgiveness of sins and union with God in the after life.
So Yahweh and Judaism are the same thing? Asherah seems to show that people are looking back in their collective history.

As for neolithic and literacy, a hundred years or so not much changes. We are really just putting the conversation on a timeline. Certainly Sumerians, Babylonians had writing systems 2700 bc. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Oct 2017 at 00:00
You said the idea had not changed in Judeo-Christian tradition, I said Judaism.... and Christian ..... are different.  Therefore, something has changed in the time between their formation.

Asherah is an interesting aside, but she really is an aside.  She shows that at one time Yahweh was not that separate from the pagan milleu of early Palestine.  The story has been rewritten and written over several times, writing various characters out of the story, such as Asherah, and Lilith, Adam's first wife.  Some of these come up in sources other than Torah.

The Jahwist (J) (yahwist) refers to Yahweh and Jacob, whereas the Elohist (E) talks about Elohim and Israel.  Are they talking about the same people, we thinks so, but what did they thinks?

But who can blame them, how many people would like to write their first wives/husbands out of the picture?

I believe that Egyptians and Babylonians and before them, the Sumerians, had metalwork, literacy and agriculture, so thus I would not consider them neolithic.  Of course, one culture could be bronze age (or the silicon age for that matter) and next door there could be a neolithic.

I suppose that the refugees from Egypt could be a neolithic people, but as far as literacy and the Ark are considered, I would consider it incongruous in the context of neolithic, I also suspect the Suzerainty-Vassal treaty that the covenant presupposes, to be a little incongruous as well, but of course one can always say all that came from Egypt. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vanuatu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Oct 2017 at 07:07
from wiki ; ("Faith" in the context of Genesis and the Hebrew bible means agreement to the promissory relationship, not a body of belief).[23]

 Abraham is dated at 2100-1900 bc, well recent change because of texts that mention these kings that he smacked.

Does it make sense to correlate the history of Israel with Egypt?

Some have suggested the Ark was a Ethiopian drum made of wood.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote toyomotor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Oct 2017 at 07:38
Can we say, without equivocation, that in fact there has been continuity?

If we can, on what basis?

Written history of Christianity and Judaism is so closely intertwined as to be, basically, inseperable, but bearing in mind that the Bible and other historic tomes were written well after the event, and, to say the least, facts are cloudy, we don't really know, IMHO.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Oct 2017 at 00:48
continuity is not on an absolute basis, but a relative one.  So yes, we can say there is continuity, or we can say there is not continuity.  On a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being the least, Continuity on a 1 or a 2 is trivial, but there is still some continuity, the most empty of names and the vaguest idea of the religion is preserved.  I would consider modern day Druidism to be very much this way, there is very little record of ancient druidism, preserved in archaeological or literary remains.  There is a lot of wishful thinking, and channeling and I assume that some developments are good, but others are going through the motions of what people think druids ought to be like, people who don't necessarily know, because there is no continuous tradition down from Celtic times.
I have a friend who he and his family belong to a Western Rite Orthodox Church, Western Rite seeks to recreate what the Roman Catholic Church was like before the Catholic Church broke away from the other Orthodox Churches.  Western Rite is more friendly to people coming from a Catholic, or Anglican background, less foreign than, say, Greek or Russian Orthodox.  But of course, there is a problem with saying that certain practices before the split were Orthodox, and certain ones were Catholic.  It is an interesting effort at recovery, but it is hard to say what is authentic because one does not have a basis for judging whether any ancient practice is truly "Orthodox" or just "Roman Catholic."  Not that it is a bad thing, it is cool hearing the Latin.  

What basis?  The scratch and sniff test.  Although for believers that can be very different from other observers.  But looking at history, we can see bottlenecks, when a tradition of a religion gets trimmed back, not necessarily through any fault of theirs, but when it get trimmed back, the religion has to adapt.  It cannot just grow, and it cannot just continue.  It has to change, often simplify.

Christianity is very separable from Judaism, I think that they chased the Jews away with pitch forks and torches.  That is not good, but Christianity and Judaism have very much defined each other as separate and the other, throughout their history.  toyomotor, if you think that they are so intertwined, you should look at Church histories.  Now maybe they do get together more now, and maybe they should get along together more, but historically, not so much.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote toyomotor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Oct 2017 at 01:14
Perhaps I should have said that their origins were intertwined, as they were also with the Muslim faith.

All three have common basis upon which their faiths developed.

Each took a slightly different path, while sill retaining some of those basis, like the belief in one God (or Allah) and belief in the existance and teachings of Jesus.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Oct 2017 at 03:17
A common basis often gives people more to fight over.  One does not necessarily fight over differences.  If you like cake and I like pie, it is easier for us to get along, especially compared to whether we both like cake and we are down to the last piece.

But, out of antiquity, there were three major philosophical traditions, the Islamic, the Judaic, and the Christian (and varieties within those).  I think that one thing modern society could do, to address Fundamentalism (particularly Islamic), is to go back to common links when the three traditions were in philosophical dialogue.  Of course, that may mean reining in the unlimited idea of progress for sake of progress that comes with (Enlightenment) modernity.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote toyomotor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Oct 2017 at 07:03
That's very nice of you. I like cake.LOL
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vanuatu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Oct 2017 at 14:26
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

A common basis often gives people more to fight over.  One does not necessarily fight over differences.  If you like cake and I like pie, it is easier for us to get along, especially compared to whether we both like cake and we are down to the last piece.

But, out of antiquity, there were three major philosophical traditions, the Islamic, the Judaic, and the Christian (and varieties within those).  I think that one thing modern society could do, to address Fundamentalism (particularly Islamic), is to go back to common links when the three traditions were in philosophical dialogue.  Of course, that may mean reining in the unlimited idea of progress for sake of progress that comes with (Enlightenment) modernity.

In Newton's Principia he reveals the intense study he invested in understanding Rabbinic texts and the work of Maimonodes in the area of...well areas, cubits and Biblical measurements. News to me.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vanuatu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Oct 2017 at 14:30
Originally posted by toyomotor toyomotor wrote:

Can we say, without equivocation, that in fact there has been continuity?

If we can, on what basis?

Written history of Christianity and Judaism is so closely intertwined as to be, basically, inseperable, but bearing in mind that the Bible and other historic tomes were written well after the event, and, to say the least, facts are cloudy, we don't really know, IMHO.



Ancient texts still in use indicate a reverence if not strict adherence to the ancestral wisdom. Could that devotion be more aligned to a connection with the past rather than belief in a Deity? Either way it seems like continuity, extraordinary continuity.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Oct 2017 at 01:38
Very interesting article about Isaac Newton and Moses Maimonides, puts a lot of things such as Newton's religion into perspective, but also his view of God as transcendent, which appears to be necessary for his physics.
Mose Maimonides is the greatest of the medieval Jewish (Aristotelian) philosophers.  Born in Spain, died in Cairo in 1204 AD.

For Maimonides and Orthodox Judaism, you are not allowed to ask why the laws are the way they are, because explaining the laws is the first step to explaining away the laws.  So you question about whether reverence is a reverence for G-d or the past would be an anathema for Orthodox Judaism.  For one thing I write G-d or YHWH (but you don't really know how to pronounce the tetragrammaton), for there is an element in Judaism that the name of the deity is unpronounceable, because you (the individual) cannot define it, encompass it, possess it.

Now Maimonides does skirt around giving an exegesis for the Law, so one might accuse him of "explaining" it.  He probably makes a distinction between his exegesis and "explaining" it.

If you want to look at Maimonides thought, the Guide of the Perplexed (if you do, get 2. vol. Schlomo Pines translation.) is probably not the best place to start.  A Maimonides Reader by Isidore Twersky, particularly his 13 Principles, and on charity, are probably better and branch off from that.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vanuatu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Oct 2017 at 14:32
It is argued that the Temple at Jerusalem is the defining moment in Jewish history and the road back to the Temple reflects the endless arguments of the Rabbinic texts around the Pentateuch.

Do you know if avoiding the use of "The Name" is Rabbinic or does it come from Exile?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Oct 2017 at 22:22
I would think that the idea that names have power is a very old one.  Pre-Babylonian exile probably (probably).  Not just Hebrew culture, but ancient Greek and Celtic culture as well.

But, it could be something that was _reinforced_ by Mystic Judaism (Kabbalah), which probably got into the symbolic and numerological reading of the Hebrew Bible.

Maimonides has a letter on Astrology which criticizes the Jewish people for studying astrology, when they should have been studying the art of war (the highest form of politics), otherwise perhaps the diaspora could have been prevented (???)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vanuatu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Oct 2017 at 04:43
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

A common basis often gives people more to fight over.  One does not necessarily fight over differences.  If you like cake and I like pie, it is easier for us to get along, especially compared to whether we both like cake and we are down to the last piece.

But, out of antiquity, there were three major philosophical traditions, the Islamic, the Judaic, and the Christian (and varieties within those).  I think that one thing modern society could do, to address Fundamentalism (particularly Islamic), is to go back to common links when the three traditions were in philosophical dialogue.  Of course, that may mean reining in the unlimited idea of progress for sake of progress that comes with (Enlightenment) modernity.

Even when Jews were allowed to live among Muslims - medieval Portugal, Spain- there were always designated professions, for Jews a thousand years in Andalusia didn't spare them prohibitions against even the color of clothing they could wear. 

No Jews carrying gold out of the city, which led to the first paper checks. They were allowed to worship without persecution but by 1100 the Berber Almohade fighters drive them into the dirt and the golden age is over. Diaspora -North into the arms of the Spanish Inquisition.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vanuatu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Oct 2017 at 04:47
Originally posted by toyomotor toyomotor wrote:

Perhaps I should have said that their origins were intertwined, as they were also with the Muslim faith.

All three have common basis upon which their faiths developed.

Each took a slightly different path, while sill retaining some of those basis, like the belief in one God (or Allah) and belief in the existance and teachings of Jesus.

The big rift is about Issac and Ishmael Jesus wasn't even a glimmer in no one's eye.

Jesus is no slouch even he reveres the history.
The root of all desires is the one desire: to come home, to be at peace. -Jean Klein
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Oct 2017 at 02:44
Maimonides may have been forced to convert in Spain or Morocco, and "converted back" when he moved to Cairo.  One usually fights with one's siblings, more than one fights with the kids down the block.  I wonder what the Muslim party line is about Hinduism and Buddhism, since they are not "people of the book."  Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians are people of the book, there might be others (Mandeans??).
Ba'hais are not, they recognize prophets _after_ Mohammed.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Nov 2017 at 21:56
I wonder about how the Muslim stories, deviate from the Jewish and the Christian stories.  Of course, they would claim that it is Judaism and Christianity that is deviating from Jesus, the prophet, or Ishmael the chosen of Abraham.  I have looked at the Koran in translation and thumbed through it a little, but I find it more daunting than the New Testament or the Hebrew Bible.  Of course, part of that is familiarity.  But part of that is the Koran is more straight theology than anything else, or so I have heard.  The Bible (OT and NT) are more stories, sayings and songs, more accessible.  But it is interesting, that they have the skeletons of some stories, but with a different twist, different ending.

I like Sufi stories, the story of a young Jesus making clay birds in the mud of a river, the rabbi coming and yelling at him for making clay birds on the Sabbath, Jesus claps his hands and while they fly away, he says, "what birds?"  Of course, there is nothing like that in the New Testament, but it raises the question of "what is continuity?"  If something is gone and it comes back, should that count as part of the continuity of the original?  Or does it represent an innovation now, and an innovation then too?  The people who put forth orthodoxy, had an agenda, it isn't any less of an agenda for the fact that they fervently believed in it.  Still a papyri is found in the desert, is 'it' settled?  Perhaps one should let sleeping dogs lie?  Or do we reset the limb and have to break it all over again?
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