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  1. #1
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    Eye for eye, tooth for tooth

    Introduction

    We all have heard this statement. It has been used at times by non-Christians as an attack against Christianity as evidence (erroneously so) of a call for necessary, vengeful reaction. That is, if someone takes your eye, then you should take theirs.

    Problem:
    This is a gross misunderstanding of the passage. It means nothing of the sort. Below is an explanation supported by scholars on the topic.

    Links and sources are given throughout this article, and at the end.


    The Context - The Times

    The ancient world was a time where the most radical forms of paganism was practiced. The societies of which wallowed in the most primitive and debased emotional darkness. The law as practiced by that world was simply: (1) If you kill my child, I will kill you, your family, and your whole generation. (2) If you knock out my tooth, I will knock out all of yours and gouge out your eyes in additional! Obviously, not a "healthy" legal or social environment.

    Imagine this scenerio: You and your family live in a place with no police force, no courts, no local, state, or federal government – no king or other authority ruling over you or the people around you. Then one day as you are going about your business, you are shocked with the news that one of your neighbors had intentionally and maliciously hit your daughter so hard that four of her teeth are permanently knocked out. What would you do? There is no authority to report it to – to seek justice. What if the situation was worse, and your child was intentionally killed? You would probably want to take the matter into your own hands and seek retribution, maybe even to the point of blood revenge. Perhaps you would try to impose the same type of injury on the attacker that he imposed. Maybe you would even want to punish him in greater degree than his offense. After you take revenge, the attacker’s family may feel that they have been mistreated and may want to respond, setting up a cycle of retaliation and revenge between you and them – the Hatfields and the McCoys so to speak.

    Genesis 34 records an actual incident like this between Jacob’s family and the family of Shechem. After Jacob’s daughter Dinah is physically abused, Dinah’s brothers, Simeon and Levi, seek revenge by first deceiving Shechem’s family into getting men circumcised, and then they take the retaliatory action of killing all the males. Of course, it is clear from later in Genesis 49:5-7 that God did not approve of this action.

    So the institution of the lex talionis into the Mosaic law for the nation of Israel and the ruling authorities was a real advancement for the cause of justice designed to prevent personal actions of retaliation and revenge. The injured person or relative of the injured person could go to the governing judicial authority in Israel to seek justice. But what should the appropriate punishment be in the case of murder or maiming? This is where the law comes into play.

    The introduction of the law called the "Lex Talionis," was a vast improvement over what preceded it. This law was known as early as the Code of Hammurabi (circa 2,000 B.C.). It had the effect of limiting revenge. Also, as the Jews interpreted it, it gradually led to the substitution of monetary penalties for the retaliative dismemberment of enemies, as when a victim would confront the relative benefit to himself of seeing his neighbor's hand cut off (for example), or of receiving a money reward instead of it. "The Hebrew words here carry the sense of `substitute.' What is meant is that whoever causes another to lose his eye ... must make financial restitution."1 We are not qualified to decide whether that interpretation is authentic or not, but one thing is clear, the Code of Hammurabi demanded that the penalty be executed, whereas, there are no instances in the Bible where the "Lex Talionis" was applied in any such brutal manner.


    The Passage

    This passage in question, is Exodus 21:24. Here is the passage in context. It is a series of laws regarding personal injury.
    "22If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman's husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. 23 "But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.
    First of all, one of the first things we notice, is that this entire passage specifically references a very specific offense. It isn't just getting into a fight, nor just hurting someone else. It is injuring a pregnant woman during a scuffle between 2 other individuals. It is protection against the innocent 3rd party. There were indeed laws against harming another individual when there was just the assailant and the victim...and there were laws concerning many other specific instances. This, is one of them.

    Why the specific law concerning a pregnant woman?*

    As a posterity among the Jews was among the peculiar promises of their covenant, and as every man had some reason to think that the Messiah should spring from his family, therefore any injury done to a woman with child, by which the fruit of her womb might be destroyed, was considered a very heavy offence; and as the crime was committed principally against the husband, the degree of punishment was left to his discretion. [in as far as what was to be the ransom/fine : money, livestock, property, etc...] But if mischief followed, that is, if the child had been fully formed, and was killed by this means, or the woman lost her life in consequence, then the punishment was as in other cases of murder-the person was put to death2.

    "Damages"

    If a pregnant woman gets injured by a man involved in a fight w/ another to the point where the baby is delivered prematurely, yet no other injury exists...then the husband of the woman, the father of the baby...may request a fine which is LIMITED to the discretion of appointed judges. If however, the woman not only has a premature birth, but is injured with some degree of severity, the punitive action taken is that of the value of the offense. That is, it is a limitation imposed on what can be done. This doesn't necessarily mean that it is saying that there should be no punishment however. It merely means that the punishment, should fit the crime. What sort of punisment are we talking about? Physical? Incarceration? No...monetary. Fines, despite the cries and claims of the "critic", were one of the primary means of punitive action in ancient Israel. Fines could be monetary, livestock, property, etc... (not just money).

    The point here, is that ransom (payment as penalty) is for lasting damages. Which tells us there are degrees of severity in offenses. For severe offenses, justice is required (as it should be). In cases of a mere slap upside the head, although it may have been possible to request a fine, it is equally likely that no compensation would be given. This law served the purpose of lasting damages being punished, not mere squabbles.

    How do we know that though?

    There are 2 basic forms of Hebraic Law. The Written (Torah) and the Oral Law. The Oral Law was used to explain The Written.

    The Oral Law explains that what is meant is a sophisticated five-part monetary form of compensation, consisting of payment for "Damages, Pain, Medical Expenses, Incapacitation, and Mental Anguish"

    The expression, "An eye for an eye, etc." means that that is what the perpetrator deserves, if not for the mercy of the Torah and its Author. How do you know the Torah means that, and is not to be taken literally?

    Because the Torah says, "Do not take a ransom for the life of a Murderer, who is wicked to the extent that he must die"; for the murderer, there is no monetary amount that is sufficient to grant him atonement in the eyes of G-d! Only payment with his life will secure that atonement. But for other forms of injury, monetary compensation (ransom for eye, tooth, bruise, life, etc...), which by the way, could easily render the man to be very poor depending upon his crime will be considered for his atonement of the offense.

    So who was allowed to carry out the punishment?

    Was it the case that anyone could exact retributive punishment as it is often argued was the case by atheists? That God was saying "Take action if you are violated!" NO! Of course not. This was strictly forbidden by Jewish Law.

    Personal retribution is explicitly forbidden by the Torah (Leviticus 19:18), such reciprocal justice being strictly reserved for the social magistrate (usually in the form of regional judges).
    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 underlie 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 Union of Orthodox Congregations website)
    The OT Laws are addressed to Judges, not to the average Joe Hebe. That is, you as a citizen, had absolutely no right whatsoever to exact punishment on another. The punishmens were given or laid out sure, but it was to be first determined then decided upon then acted upon by the Judges.

    Jesus on the other hand, spoke to you, the Average Joe citizen on what you should do when someone commits an offense against you. And that is where the "turn the other cheek" lesson comes in.

    Links & Sources:
    http://www.ou.org/about/judaism/torah.htm
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lex_talionis
    http://www.bible.org/page.asp?page_id=1066
    Gill, John. "Commentary on Exodus 21:24"
    Guzik, David. "Commentary on Exodus 21"

    1. Haketav Vehakabbalah, Wellsprings of Torah, Vol. 1 (New York: The Judaic Press, 1969), p. 155.

    2. Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Exodus 21". "The Adam Clarke Commentary".

    * There are 3 instances of lex talionis in scripture, each being explained in specific instances (like the case of the pregnant woman).
    Last edited by Apokalupsis; September 7th, 2010 at 12:59 PM. Reason: removed irrelevent opinions from introduction
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    I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend. - Thomas Jefferson




  2. #2
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    Re: Eye for eye, tooth for tooth

    I am a hardcore atheist and i believe in an eye for an eye!

  3. #3
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    Re: Eye for eye, tooth for tooth

    I like what Jesus preached better than what the Old Testament preached - JUST DON'T DIS ME!
    While laughing at others stupidity, you may want to contemplate your own comedic talents. (link)
    Disclaimer: This information is being provided for informational, educational, and entertainment purposes only.

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    Re: Eye for eye, tooth for tooth

    I do not see how ANY of that makes your case Apok'. The actual atheist contention(not any of the various straw men) that an omnibenevolent God would not allow the evil he was opposed to exist THEN act on it by killing everyone who lived within the vicinity of the allegedly "wicked"(including children) remains unanswered.

    Furthermore, whether the "Eye for an eye..." bit is a "limitiation" or a call to punitive action is irrelevant. It STILL implies a life for a life(as Booger pointed out) and, even more disturbingly, it implies that if a man rapes YOUR wife, you should rape HIS(this idea is further reinforced in a few other passages in the Bible as well).


    But I will admit, it is difficult to refute selective reinterpretation of scripture, no matter WHICH scripture and who is doing the reinterpreting. If you found a passage in the Bible wherein God said "A man who eats eggs for breakfast should but cut in two and fed to his pigs." then Bible believers would simply reinterpret this as meaning "You should see BOTH halves of the spirit of the man who eats eggs for breakfast and let him dine with the swine he spiritually keeps company with." or somesuch.

  5. #5
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    Re: Eye for eye, tooth for tooth

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis
    I submit, that such attacks, are only given by the "critic" who hasn't taken the time to read the context, understand the history, examine the prose, the culture, etc... yet insists, that their attack is legitimate.
    I'd like to preface this with a complaint about this part. The Bible is meant to be God's word, an unerring guide for the rest of history about how men are to live their lives. Why is it so hard to understand? There's context, cultures, social situations, etc. Why is the word of God so hard to interpret into modern day terms? Wouldn't God make it easy to understand His word and laws (this also brings up the point: why are there countless Christian sects)?

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis
    The introduction of the law called the "Lex Talionis," was a vast improvement over what preceded it. This law was known as early as the Code of Hammurabi (circa 2,000 B.C.). It had the effect of limiting revenge.
    Got it. It was better. But was it perfect?

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis
    First of all, one of the first things we notice, is that this entire passage specifically references a very specific offense. It isn't just getting into a fight, nor just hurting someone else. It is injuring a pregnant woman during a scuffle between 2 other individuals. It is protection against the innocent 3rd party.
    Does this apply generally as a guideline for punitive action, or can it only be applied in this specific circumstance?

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis
    The expression, "An eye for an eye, etc." means that that is what the perpetrator deserves, if not for the mercy of the Torah and its Author. How do you know the Torah means that, and is not to be taken literally?

    Because the Torah says, "Do not take a ransom for the life of a Murderer, who is wicked to the extent that he must die"; for the murderer, there is no monetary amount that is sufficient to grant him atonement in the eyes of G-d! Only payment with his life will secure that atonement. But for other forms of injury, monetary compensation (ransom for eye, tooth, bruise, life, etc...), which by the way, could easily render the man to be very poor depending upon his crime will be considered for his atonement of the offense.
    Let's take a look at Apok's reasoning here:
    Should we take eye for an eye literally? No, because the Torah says that we should take life for life literally? How does that in any way support your contention? IMO, it supports the other side. Now if you could provide a scriptual reference for this part, that would be different:
    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis
    But for other forms of injury, monetary compensation (ransom for eye, tooth, bruise, life, etc...), which by the way, could easily render the man to be very poor depending upon his crime will be considered for his atonement of the offense.
    Freedom is you choosing for yourself. Law is the government choosing for you. The two are opposites.

    Pray - To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy - Ambrose Bierce
    Faith - Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge about things without parallel - Ambrose Bierce

  6. #6
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    Re: Eye for eye, tooth for tooth

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis
    Introduction

    We all have heard this statement. Here at ODN, it is used primarily by non-Christians, usually the atheist, as an attack against Christianity as they believe (erroneously so) that it implies that it is a call for necessary vengeful reaction. That is, if someone takes your eye, then you should take theirs.

    The atheist scoffs at such a barbaric law, and tucks it away nice-and-tidy like in his arsenal of reasons why the Christian God, cannot be all-good or just, as it is claimed by the Christian.

    I submit, that such attacks, are only given by the "critic" who hasn't taken the time to read the context, understand the history, examine the prose, the culture, etc... yet insists, that their attack is legitimate.

    When those who are educated somewhat in Hebraic law, ancient languages, Biblical history and culture explain that this was not a calling for a punishment that is identical to the crime, the "critic" will typically respond with "Well, that's what YOU say...that's according to YOU".

    Problem:
    This isn't what the Christian or the Jew says...this is what the scholars (secular - non-religion aflliated, Islamic, Jewish, Christian, etc...) say. This is what those who have studied such relevant fields all their lives tell us. Christians and Jews, just happen to believe that it's important to consider expert testimony, experience, research and conclusions when it comes to truth discovery. Atheists believe so too, but only when it comes to matters of evolutionary science. And apparently, never when it comes to history, archaelogy, ancient law, anthropology, etc...

    This post, sets 'em straight and will be used as a reference for when the so-called "critic" makes such unfounded claims.

    Links and sources are given throughout this article, and at the end.


    The Context - The Times

    The ancient world was a time where the most radical forms of paganism was practiced. The societies of which wallowed in the most primitive and debased emotional darkness. The law as practiced by that world was simply: (1) If you kill my child, I will kill you, your family, and your whole generation. (2) If you knock out my tooth, I will knock out all of yours and gouge out your eyes in additional! Obviously, not a "healthy" legal or social environment.

    Imagine this scenerio: You and your family live in a place with no police force, no courts, no local, state, or federal government – no king or other authority ruling over you or the people around you. Then one day as you are going about your business, you are shocked with the news that one of your neighbors had intentionally and maliciously hit your daughter so hard that four of her teeth are permanently knocked out. What would you do? There is no authority to report it to – to seek justice. What if the situation was worse, and your child was intentionally killed? You would probably want to take the matter into your own hands and seek retribution, maybe even to the point of blood revenge. Perhaps you would try to impose the same type of injury on the attacker that he imposed. Maybe you would even want to punish him in greater degree than his offense. After you take revenge, the attacker’s family may feel that they have been mistreated and may want to respond, setting up a cycle of retaliation and revenge between you and them – the Hatfields and the McCoys so to speak.

    Genesis 34 records an actual incident like this between Jacob’s family and the family of Shechem. After Jacob’s daughter Dinah is physically abused, Dinah’s brothers, Simeon and Levi, seek revenge by first deceiving Shechem’s family into getting men circumcised, and then they take the retaliatory action of killing all the males. Of course, it is clear from later in Genesis 49:5-7 that God did not approve of this action.

    So the institution of the lex talionis into the Mosaic law for the nation of Israel and the ruling authorities was a real advancement for the cause of justice designed to prevent personal actions of retaliation and revenge. The injured person or relative of the injured person could go to the governing judicial authority in Israel to seek justice. But what should the appropriate punishment be in the case of murder or maiming? This is where the law comes into play.

    The introduction of the law called the "Lex Talionis," was a vast improvement over what preceded it. This law was known as early as the Code of Hammurabi (circa 2,000 B.C.). It had the effect of limiting revenge. Also, as the Jews interpreted it, it gradually led to the substitution of monetary penalties for the retaliative dismemberment of enemies, as when a victim would confront the relative benefit to himself of seeing his neighbor's hand cut off (for example), or of receiving a money reward instead of it. "The Hebrew words here carry the sense of `substitute.' What is meant is that whoever causes another to lose his eye ... must make financial restitution."1 We are not qualified to decide whether that interpretation is authentic or not, but one thing is clear, the Code of Hammurabi demanded that the penalty be executed, whereas, there are no instances in the Bible where the "Lex Talionis" was applied in any such brutal manner.


    The Passage

    This passage in question, is Exodus 21:24. Here is the passage in context. It is a series of laws regarding personal injury.
    "22If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman's husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. 23 "But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.
    First of all, one of the first things we notice, is that this entire passage specifically references a very specific offense. It isn't just getting into a fight, nor just hurting someone else. It is injuring a pregnant woman during a scuffle between 2 other individuals. It is protection against the innocent 3rd party. There were indeed laws against harming another individual when there was just the assailant and the victim...and there were laws concerning many other specific instances. This, is one of them.

    Why the specific law concerning a pregnant woman?*

    As a posterity among the Jews was among the peculiar promises of their covenant, and as every man had some reason to think that the Messiah should spring from his family, therefore any injury done to a woman with child, by which the fruit of her womb might be destroyed, was considered a very heavy offence; and as the crime was committed principally against the husband, the degree of punishment was left to his discretion. [in as far as what was to be the ransom/fine : money, livestock, property, etc...] But if mischief followed, that is, if the child had been fully formed, and was killed by this means, or the woman lost her life in consequence, then the punishment was as in other cases of murder-the person was put to death2.

    "Damages"

    If a pregnant woman gets injured by a man involved in a fight w/ another to the point where the baby is delivered prematurely, yet no other injury exists...then the husband of the woman, the father of the baby...may request a fine which is LIMITED to the discretion of appointed judges. If however, the woman not only has a premature birth, but is injured with some degree of severity, the punitive action taken is that of the value of the offense. That is, it is a limitation imposed on what can be done. This doesn't necessarily mean that it is saying that there should be no punishment however. It merely means that the punishment, should fit the crime. What sort of punisment are we talking about? Physical? Incarceration? No...monetary. Fines, despite the cries and claims of the "critic", were one of the primary means of punitive action in ancient Israel. Fines could be monetary, livestock, property, etc... (not just money).

    The point here, is that ransom (payment as penalty) is for lasting damages. Which tells us there are degrees of severity in offenses. For severe offenses, justice is required (as it should be). In cases of a mere slap upside the head, although it may have been possible to request a fine, it is equally likely that no compensation would be given. This law served the purpose of lasting damages being punished, not mere squabbles.

    How do we know that though?

    There are 2 basic forms of Hebraic Law. The Written (Torah) and the Oral Law. The Oral Law was used to explain The Written.

    The Oral Law explains that what is meant is a sophisticated five-part monetary form of compensation, consisting of payment for "Damages, Pain, Medical Expenses, Incapacitation, and Mental Anguish"

    The expression, "An eye for an eye, etc." means that that is what the perpetrator deserves, if not for the mercy of the Torah and its Author. How do you know the Torah means that, and is not to be taken literally?

    Because the Torah says, "Do not take a ransom for the life of a Murderer, who is wicked to the extent that he must die"; for the murderer, there is no monetary amount that is sufficient to grant him atonement in the eyes of G-d! Only payment with his life will secure that atonement. But for other forms of injury, monetary compensation (ransom for eye, tooth, bruise, life, etc...), which by the way, could easily render the man to be very poor depending upon his crime will be considered for his atonement of the offense.

    So who was allowed to carry out the punishment?

    Was it the case that anyone could exact retributive punishment as it is often argued was the case by atheists? That God was saying "Take action if you are violated!" NO! Of course not. This was strictly forbidden by Jewish Law.

    Personal retribution is explicitly forbidden by the Torah (Leviticus 19:18), such reciprocal justice being strictly reserved for the social magistrate (usually in the form of regional judges).
    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 underlie 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 Union of Orthodox Congregations website)
    The OT Laws are addressed to Judges, not to the average Joe Hebe. That is, you as a citizen, had absolutely no right whatsoever to exact punishment on another. The punishmens were given or laid out sure, but it was to be first determined then decided upon then acted upon by the Judges.

    Jesus on the other hand, spoke to you, the Average Joe citizen on what you should do when someone commits an offense against you. And that is where the "turn the other cheek" lesson comes in.

    Links & Sources:
    http://www.ou.org/about/judaism/torah.htm
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lex_talionis
    http://www.bible.org/page.asp?page_id=1066
    Gill, John. "Commentary on Exodus 21:24"
    Guzik, David. "Commentary on Exodus 21"

    1. Haketav Vehakabbalah, Wellsprings of Torah, Vol. 1 (New York: The Judaic Press, 1969), p. 155.

    2. Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Exodus 21". "The Adam Clarke Commentary".

    * There are 3 instances of lex talionis in scripture, each being explained in specific instances (like the case of the pregnant woman).

    The below text has been automerged with this post.

    *bump*
    Have been working on it the last couple days in the admin forum. Will remove this bumpage shortly.
    Why are you posting this?

    Matthew 5:38-39

    38 "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' 39 But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

  7. #7
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    Re: Eye for eye, tooth for tooth

    Quote Originally Posted by GodlessSkept
    I do not see how ANY of that makes your case Apok'. The actual atheist contention(not any of the various straw men) that an omnibenevolent God would not allow the evil he was opposed to exist THEN act on it by killing everyone who lived within the vicinity of the allegedly "wicked"(including children) remains unanswered.

    Furthermore, whether the "Eye for an eye..." bit is a "limitiation" or a call to punitive action is irrelevant. It STILL implies a life for a life(as Booger pointed out) and, even more disturbingly, it implies that if a man rapes YOUR wife, you should rape HIS(this idea is further reinforced in a few other passages in the Bible as well).
    ...did you even READ the op?? Apparently not. There is no straw man here...this is an essay written about what 'eye for eye' truly means, and is corrected the uneducated atheist about what he THINKS it means.

    Also, this isn't about why God allows something, if God exists, the nature of God, etc... Taking this thread off-topic, won't help your position in not knowing what the passage or what lex talionas means.

    If you wish to REFUTE something do it. Trolling with nothing more than "nuh-uh" arguments merely proves what I've always said about the "critic"...they are simply incapable of doing just a tad bit of research on their own, and despite the vast amount of evidence out there in these areas, they are just too heavily biased to learn anything new...ignorance is the tool of the "critic". I've given plenty of sources, plenty of scholarly consensus. Provide a mature, and valid rebuttal, at least TRY to graduate from "critic" status.

    The below text has been automerged with this post.

    Quote Originally Posted by GoldPhoenix
    Why are you posting this?
    ...what are you asking exactly? Why I linked the other thread?
    Last edited by Apokalupsis; June 29th, 2006 at 08:33 PM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
    -=]Apokalupsis[=-
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    I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend. - Thomas Jefferson




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    Re: Eye for eye, tooth for tooth

    Quote Originally Posted by Snoop
    I like what Jesus preached better than what the Old Testament preached - JUST DON'T DIS ME!

    There is a divide and debate (regrettibly) in Christianity as to which holds the greater legitimacy and/or authority, the 'Old Covenant' or the 'New Covenant'.

    The 'God' of the OT often appears to be more severe in judgment than Jesus of the NT. In reality the 'sin itself' is being equally judged - but importantly/significantly Jesus comes across as less harsh and more understanding of the fallibility and emotion of humanity - I suspect this difference lies more with human /cultural interpretion than a contradictory God. I feel that one of Jesus' tasks was to correct cultural and political misinterpretations and agendas that may have snuck into the OT in order to 'justify' the decisions and actions of the tribal elders, sanhedrin and kings. All any harsh judge today needs to do is make a diversion around Jesus and head straight to 'Exodus' or 'Deutronomy'.

    Speaking personally I tend as well to go more for the 'Jesus' approach to judging humanity.
    "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." - Anais Nin.
    Emitte lucem et veritatem - Send out light and truth.
    'Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt' - Julius Caesar (rough translation, 'Men will think what they want to think')
    Kill my boss? Do I dare live out the American dream? - Homer Simpson.

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    Re: Eye for eye, tooth for tooth

    Apok - well explained. I can't tell you how many times I have had to offer similar explanations (though not half as well-referenced as yours) to atheists who insist on misunderstanding this Divine limitation of retribution.

    Quote Originally Posted by castle
    Wouldn't God make it easy to understand His word and laws...

    In my experience it is not can't understand it is won't understand. A basic knowledge of human nature shows the wisdom behind this law. Humans have an instinctive sense of justice such that we believe deeply that if, say, a man murders our son or daughter, then justice can only be done if the murderer's life is forfeit. (That doesn't exclude the possibility of mercy, i.e. commutation of sentence, btw.) We also know how human nature has a tendency to want to extract more than is due - a bigger and better retaliation - which is why quarrels escalate into wars. This perverted sense of justice is what God limited by the "eye for eye" law.

    Many of the objections raised by atheists are answerable only by referencing the Bible from beginning to end. Biblical symbolism, Christiological typology, and doctrines such as sacrificial atonement begin in Genesis, are developed throughout the OT and find their fulfillment in Revelation, via the Gospels and the OT Letters. How does one even begin to explain the symbolism of The Tabernacle and the Priesthood for instance, to a person who insists on taking a single verse from Deuteronomy out of context? The deep things of God are not made available to those who just open a Bible, pick a verse, and proceed to try and demolish its content. After nearly fifty years of Bible study and listening to Biblical exposition, I still consider my Bible knowledge to be basic. There are layers on layers on layers to search and understand. The basic message may be easily grasped - God made me, Adam disobeyed and sin entered the world and all born thereafter, including me, are sinners; the wages of sin is death, Jesus died in my place, if I repent and believe I will be forgiven and have eternal life. Even as a five year old I could grasp that. But it takes years and years and years of faithful study and revelation by the Holy Spirit, to understand the deeper things of God. Yet atheists seem to think that they can come along and pick holes in God's Word without ever having read the Bible from beginnning to end, never mind having studied it under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and gifted Biblical teachers of the Word.

    Arguing with an atheist over the meaning of a single Scripture, is like trying to argue the finer points of English grammar with a five year old. How does one explain, for instance, the subjunctive mood to the stroppy five year old who insists that it is incorrect to say: if I were you.......

    There is the milk of the Word and there is the meat of the Word, as Paul puts it, and most atheists haven't even managed to digest the milk, never mind getting their teeth into the meat. Yet they insist their infantile regurgitations are justified. I can think of no other area of study where a novice would have the temerity to question the author and those who have studied under the author for years. Which person with Grade 1 Maths would question the validity of Einstein's GTR? Which novice student of iambic pentametre would tell Shakespeare that he got his metre wrong when he used a trochaic substitution for emphasis?

    I agree with Apok; first do your research and then come back and argue the toss. And since Christian doctrine begins in Genesis and is developed throughout the whole Bible, honest research requires at least one reading of the Bible from beginning to end, preferably with a reputable Biblical Commentary to hand and, if you don't not know the original Biblical languages, an interlinear Bible as well.
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    Re: Eye for eye, tooth for tooth

    Quote Originally Posted by disinterested
    This perverted sense of justice is what God limited by the "eye for eye" law.
    Alright; sounds good.

    Quote Originally Posted by disinterested
    But it takes years and years and years of faithful study and revelation by the Holy Spirit, to understand the deeper things of God.
    Yes, yes. It's all very complex and hard to understand. Why? Why didn't God write it so it was easier to understand? At the very least, He could have gotten rid of all the confusing cultural and "context of the times" stuff; an updated edition if you will. That is my objection here. I understand that the Bible is complex and requires many years of study, etc. but my question is: why did God write it that way?
    Freedom is you choosing for yourself. Law is the government choosing for you. The two are opposites.

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    Re: Eye for eye, tooth for tooth

    Quote Originally Posted by Castle
    Alright; sounds good.


    Yes, yes. It's all very complex and hard to understand. Why? Why didn't God write it so it was easier to understand? At the very least, He could have gotten rid of all the confusing cultural and "context of the times" stuff; an updated edition if you will. That is my objection here. I understand that the Bible is complex and requires many years of study, etc. but my question is: why did God write it that way?
    To continue the English grammar analogy:

    It is perfectly possible to understand, speak and write acceptable English without understanding the technicalities such as subordinate clauses, the subjunctive mood, the use of amphibrachs in poetry, etc etc. The same is true of the Bible. How deep do you want to go? You can understand enough of the Bible as a five year old to receive forgiveness of sins, but you are unlikely to understand the doctrine of the Atonement, even though you can accept its truth. You don't ask mathematicians or poets why it is so hard to understand the technicalities of their subjects so why do you question God? I cannot cope with much more than simple arithmetic, but I don't blame Einstein for making GTR too difficult for me to understand, I blame my own lack of diligence in learning mathematics.
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    Re: Eye for eye, tooth for tooth

    Quote Originally Posted by disinterested
    It is perfectly possible to understand, speak and write acceptable English without understanding the technicalities such as subordinate clauses, the subjunctive mood, the use of amphibrachs in poetry, etc etc.
    This analogy has its points. Consider how complex English is; one of the hardest languages in the world to learn, rife with exceptions to the rules, bizarre silent letters, etc. My complaint isn't really that the Bible requires a bit of study to understand, but that there appear to be quite a few elements that could be rewritten and make it far easier to comprehend without losing any of the meaning.

    Quote Originally Posted by disinterested
    You don't ask mathematicians or poets why it is so hard to understand the technicalities of their subjects so why do you question God?
    It's not so much the actual doctrine, it's all the stuff around the doctrine. We have cultural contexts. We have obsolete laws. We have metaphorical passages and allegorical passages. We have literal passages. We don't really know which is which, and the interpretations have changed over time. So, I suppose my two main points here are:
    1) The Bible was originally written for a culture 2000 years ago, and it shows. It would have been nice either to have a culture neutral version or one specifically designed for our culture.

    2) The variety in the different styles of writing Biblical passages. It could be literal, it could be metaphorical, it could be allegorical, etc. We don't know, and sometimes there's disagreement (The Creation story, for instance). God should have labeled it.
    Freedom is you choosing for yourself. Law is the government choosing for you. The two are opposites.

    Pray - To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy - Ambrose Bierce
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    Re: Eye for eye, tooth for tooth

    GodlessSkept, that has to be the worst "rebuttle" in ODN history. In fact, I think it's official, that WAS the worst rebuttle in ODN history, I believe you get some sort of award for that so look for it in the mail.

    Apok presented his arguments that "an eye for an eye" wasn't for the average citizen, but for judges - you respond to this by saying "an omnibenevolent God would not allow the evil he was opposed to exist THEN act on it by killing everyone who lived within the vicinity of the allegedly "wicked"(including children) remains unanswered", what on EARTH did that have to do with this thread? In fact, in reading your post again, I think you've confused this thread with my thread "Do something about evil - Wait, why did you do something about evil?!". Especially since you went on to say, "It STILL implies a life for a life(as Booger pointed out)" - Booger never posted in this thread, you've definately confused it with the other one, in which Booger and Apok were having a similar discussion.

    Now the one statement that came close to addressing the topic at hand was " if a man rapes YOUR wife, you should rape HIS", this is about "an eye for an eye", all right, but Apok already refuted this notion of "an eye for an eye" applying to the average Joe when it was really intended for judges...so you really haven't refuted one of the many points Apok brought up. You then go on with the bald assertion/ad hom that Apok just dismisses any scholarly opinion that disagrees with him without providing us any examples of where he did this. If you are going to make accusations, at least be prepared to back them up.

    Furthermore, if all we Christians are doing is "selectively re-interpreting scripture", than it should be very easy for you to prove us wrong. Now, please show exactly where Apok is wrong and how he is "selectively re-interpreting" things so we can proceed with this debate. Merely popping into debates, declaring the opposition position to be absurd and disappearing for months on end will get us no where. You were planning on debating in this thread, weren't you?
    Last edited by nanderson; June 30th, 2006 at 02:22 PM.
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    Re: Eye for eye, tooth for tooth

    Quote Originally Posted by Castle
    This analogy has its points. Consider how complex English is; one of the hardest languages in the world to learn, rife with exceptions to the rules, bizarre silent letters, etc. My complaint isn't really that the Bible requires a bit of study to understand, but that there appear to be quite a few elements that could be rewritten and make it far easier to comprehend without losing any of the meaning.

    It's not so much the actual doctrine, it's all the stuff around the doctrine. We have cultural contexts. We have obsolete laws. We have metaphorical passages and allegorical passages. We have literal passages. We don't really know which is which, and the interpretations have changed over time.
    While the cultural information threaded into the Bible may be confusing without further study, it is a major reason that the Bible can be proven accurate at least historically, and gives at least some spiritual and theological validity to it and it's claims.

    Quote Originally Posted by Castle
    1) The Bible was originally written for a culture 2000 years ago, and it shows. It would have been nice either to have a culture neutral version or one specifically designed for our culture.
    The Bible wasn't written for a culture 2000 years ago, it was written through a culture that existed 2000 years ago. Most of the time, God uses people to reveal Himself or His will, which explains the cultural implications tied into both the Old and New Testaments.
    "It is better by noble boldness to run the risk of being subject to half the evils we anticipate than to remain in cowardly listlessness for fear of what might happen." -Heroditus

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    Re: Eye for eye, tooth for tooth

    So does the bible give any cred to Hammbri?

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    Re: Eye for eye, tooth for tooth

    Quote Originally Posted by Castle
    I'd like to preface this with a complaint about this part. The Bible is meant to be God's word, an unerring guide for the rest of history about how men are to live their lives. Why is it so hard to understand?
    What's so hard about it exactly? Isn't the difficulty level dependent upon the aptitude of the reader? Isn't this saying "If it is the word of God, then people should be able to read the KJV (which is written in English)...even if they don't know how to read English." ?

    First, you have to learn to read English. Until then, understanding any page of the Bible will be impossible. Thus, extremely high degree of difficulty. Once that is accomplished, you can understand quite a bit. You can definitely undertand the the core message of the Gospels, which is truly all one needs.

    But then there are a variety of literary styles in the Bible. If someone has just learned English, are the qualified to determine metaphor from factual recording? Doubtful. One just has to spend a bit more time to understand certain nuances of the language. The same applies to certain texts, especially historical texts.

    Also, I believe the Bible serves as a tool of communication/interaction/knowledge with God in that the more involved we are with God, the more we want to learn. And the more we learn, the more we are involved. God desires this. He didn't want to give you "See Spot Run" book...He wants us to be challenged (for those willing to BE challenged) so that we may grow closer with Him and develop that relationship.

    There's context, cultures, social situations, etc. Why is the word of God so hard to interpret into modern day terms? Wouldn't God make it easy to understand His word and laws (this also brings up the point: why are there countless Christian sects)?
    See above. Any further inquiry about this subject would be best covered in a different thread, not one specifically discussion the meaning of a specific passage/concept.

    Got it. It was better. But was it perfect?
    I fail to see any flaws in it. It's what we use today. I'd say it's pretty darn important to NOT abuse others wouldn't you? I mean, is justice really be served if those who are to implement it step their bounds? Isn't this criminal instead?

    Does this apply generally as a guideline for punitive action, or can it only be applied in this specific circumstance?
    Not clear on your question...do you mean is Lex Talionis a concept that is to only be applied when a pregnant woman is hurt? Or rather is it to be applied as a general principle of justice?

    Let's take a look at Apok's reasoning here:
    Should we take eye for an eye literally? No, because the Torah says that we should take life for life literally? How does that in any way support your contention? IMO, it supports the other side. Now if you could provide a scriptual reference for this part, that would be different:
    As already explained, lex talionis as it is described throughout scripture is the ransom (compensation through payment of fines). The passage re: murder, says DO NOT take ransom, take the life. It singles itself out as the only offense in which the concept may not apply. In other words, for the murderer, there is no monetary amount that is sufficient to grant him atonement in the eyes of God, and only payment with his life will secure that atonement. For other forms of injury, however, the criminal must pay a huge sum, as a ransom for his eye, hand, or foot; and as atonement, which is intended to make him a poor man for his terrible crime.

    The below text has been automerged with this post.

    First of all GS, consider this an official warning for trolling. Your post here address NO point of this thread or argument. Your purpose here is merely to stir the pot.

    Quote Originally Posted by GodlessSkept
    Well, I never accused YOU (or anyone else here)of any straw man. Go back and read what I wrote . I can see how you might have assumed otherwise though .
    I made a post. You respond with telling me that the ACTUAL atheist position is X, and not the variety of strawmen offered up. I tell you that no strawman was offered up. Now you say that you were not suggesting one existed? Then why did you say that they did in the first place?

    I know what it is(an essay offering a pretty common, yet unconvincing defense of a particular interpretation of the "eye for an eye" thing). But who is the "uneducated atheist" you keep harping on? Are all atheists who don't buy what you sell "uneducated"?
    It is most assuredly safe to say that you fall into that category.

    I hate it when kids learn new words/terms and fall in love with them. Now we are going to have to listen to Apok spouting "lex talionas THIS!" and "lex talionas THAT!" for who knows how long.
    Trolling.

    Straw men, ad hominems, bald assertions...you are not doing well here Apok'.
    Trolling.

    Apok' please...spare us. WE know your track record when presented with scholarly consensus which does not support YOUR conclusions. Anything not coming from a Christian bias will be dismissed as "uneducated atheists" and "critics".
    Then BACK UP YOUR CLAIMS already GS. You say you are not the "uneducated atheist", yet you can NEVER provide any of these sources and support for your argument that you say exist that REFUTE scholarly consense already given. You continually whine with "nuh-uh, that's not true" and never provide ANY argumentation or actual rebuttal? You have merely said "I'm not convinced". Great. WHY? What knowledge do YOU have that has convinced you otherwise? Which scholars have you studied or referenced that have shown you the light on this particular issue?

    Quite being the "critic child", grow some brass ones, come to the plate with some real argumentation/sources/refutation and gain a little bit of credibility as a debater instead of just another atheist troll. You don't do your position any favors here "debating" like you do. AOL chat room debate styles just aren't very popular here.
    Last edited by Apokalupsis; July 5th, 2006 at 11:30 AM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
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    Re: Eye for eye, tooth for tooth

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis
    Any further inquiry about this subject would be best covered in a different thread, not one specifically discussion the meaning of a specific passage/concept.
    Fair enough.

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis
    do you mean is Lex Talionis a concept that is to only be applied when a pregnant woman is hurt? Or rather is it to be applied as a general principle of justice?
    Exactly. Which one is it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis
    The passage re: murder, says DO NOT take ransom, take the life. It singles itself out as the only offense in which the concept may not apply.
    OK. IMO, it might have been better support to provide the passages regarding ransom, but I get it now.
    Freedom is you choosing for yourself. Law is the government choosing for you. The two are opposites.

    Pray - To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy - Ambrose Bierce
    Faith - Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge about things without parallel - Ambrose Bierce

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    Re: Eye for eye, tooth for tooth

    Quote Originally Posted by Castle
    Exactly. Which one is it?
    Very much a general principle which would be applied in more than just this one instance as it is recorded. In fact, it appears in at least 3 other instances that I'm aware of.

    OK. IMO, it might have been better support to provide the passages regarding ransom, but I get it now.
    I'll try to dig more up if you like...but as explained in the previous posts, this was how it was understood by the Hebrews through oral tradition and oral law. So if THEY understood it and practiced it that way...why shouldn't we? In other words, on what grounds do we stand that it should be taken literally considering the fact that they didn't? Isn't the point of the objection to point out the barbarism or trite revenge that one is to take? If so, then it would be reasonable to examine how it is applied and interpreted by those who were practicing the principle, right?
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    Re: Eye for eye, tooth for tooth

    It seems like we must pass so many OT passages off as irrelevant to modern times just because they were written in the context of the times. It's interesting, though; many more liberal Christian churches disregard a lot of OT teachings in favour of the NT and modern times.

    In any case, reading over this thread, I think a lot of people in this thread have forgotten, as Apok mentioned in his OP, some of the things Jesus had said about "an eye for an eye":

    "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.' But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you." (Matthew 5:38-42, NIV)

    "But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,"

    "Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise." (Luke 6:28-31. King James Version)

    When reading the OT (or the NT, for that matter) we have to keep the statements in the context of the times.

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    Re: Eye for eye, tooth for tooth

    Not only that Star, but much of what is complained about by the non-Christian in re: the odd laws, is only for Israel as they had higher standards to appeal to. God didn't make the same covenants with all of man as He did with Israel. God didn't make all tribes/nations His representative, He made Israel His tool.

    When Christ came, and fulfilled the prophecies, the covenant changed. The next phase began, thus, the first was no longer necessary. It served its purpose. The "critic" needs to understand the difference between universal and particular laws. Heck, the "critic" needs to start at Hebraic Law 101 to learn the differences between ceremonial, sacrificial, civic, etc... laws. Until then, it's just another "objection" copied/pasted from another atheist site started by some angry high school or college student.

    I'd love for once, to see the atheist present some actual argumentation from scholars, historians/archeologists/anthropologists, etc... At least then we'd finally see a promotion into the criticism heirarchy. Debating the "critic" it seems, is nearly always a waste of time. It's like trying to debate the relevancy of the theory of relativity with a 5 year old. Pointless until the kid grows up (intellectually).
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