Obviously, the Bible says a lot of things about a lot of different subjects and many sections of the Holy Book can sometimes be quite unsettling.
For example when the snake says to Eve : “For God knows that in the very day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and bad” (Genesis 3:5)
Two questions arise when reading this verse : first, has Bad been there for all eternity? If so, what is man’s take in eliminating it? and second, some translations say : “you will be like Gods”, as if the snake was mentioning the existence of many Gods.
And this is not the only occurrence. God himself is also reported as saying :
“The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” (Genesis 3:22)
Those allusions to several Gods could be quite unsettling for a Christian whose faith is based on the belief in one God.
Plus,when destroying the Tower of Babel, why scatter humans all over the world, when they were united as one people, speaking the same language and trying to work together to build something? all because “Now there is nothing that they may have in mind to do that will be impossible for them.” (Genesis 11:7)
This urge from God to fight man’s hubris or pride pretty much resemble what is found in Greek mythology concerning the reactions of the gods to man’s desire to show his strength and compete with them : The Greek goddess, Athena, changed into a spider the young Arachne, a girl who was boasting of being able to weave as well as the goddess, when the latter found herself unable to defeat the mortal whose work happened to be as good as hers.
Prometheus, who was a Titan, is known to have provoked the gods in anger when he decided to steal fire from them to bring to humans. For wanting to improve mankind, he was condemned by Zeus to be chained to a rock and to have his liver eaten by an eagle while he was still alive. The liver will grow back every morning, so that the punishment can take place again and again.
Some stories you find in the Bible seem outright reenacted from ancient legends, even the story of a central figure like Abraham presents a great similarity with the Greek myth of Iphigenia: Agamemnon, King of Mycenea, who was leading the Greek army in the war against the Trojans was asked to sacrifice his daughter, Iphigenia, to goddess Artemis (he had offended her by saying he was as good a hunter as she was, so, she prevented the winds from blowing keeping the Greek ships in the port of Aulis). Agamemnon agreed to the sacrifice and Iphigenia also, was willing to give her life in order to allow the Greeks fight for their honour. The similarity between the Greek legend and the Biblical story can be noticed when it is said that, at the last minute, out of pity, goddess Artemis replaced Iphigenia with a deer. Exactly what God is said to have done in the case of Abraham’s son who was replaced by a ram.
In view of all its unsettling elements (even when considering the fact that a lot is lost in translation), some Christians are of the opinion that one should forget about the Old Testament and just rely on the New Testament whose message of Love is much more appealing to people of this time while the Old Testament was meant to cater to the need and understanding of people of ancient times.
It is true that the life of Jesus, his unselfishness, his unconditional love for everybody and anybody is quite inspiring and rather revolutionary for his time. For a pacifist like myself, the Old Testament ‘s command: “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”, doesn’t go down well with me, even if its violent meaning is said to be a misinterpretation.
What I strongly believe, however, is that religion or the lack of it, is really a personal matter.
The only reason I am talking about this today is because it is on my mind since I read this article about the experiment of two Dutch YouTubers who went on the street reading verses of the Bible while making it sound like it was coming from the Quran. But I am sharing their story in a different post here!