Reading holy books for fun

  • #1
18,037
7,392

Main Question or Discussion Point

I don't adhere to any religion nor have I been conviced there is a God. However I have recently decided that in order to better understand human history and current world affairs it would be very benefical to read the major holy books. My GF is currently reading the Bible and I am about 100 pages into the Qur'an. I also picked up the Upanishads and would like to get a Torah. Now, finishing all these will likely take me a couple years (with the Qur'an I can only handle reading maybe 15 pages at a time!). Does anyone else read holy books for "fun"?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
turbo
Gold Member
3,077
45
My faves in college were translations of the writings of Eastern philosophy/religion, especially Zen Buddhism. And yes, I did read them for insight/entertainment, though I had a double major in Philosophy and English Lit, and they did have some bearing on my course-work. Most interesting to me was the progression from the Indian "wheel of life" to the Buddhist concept of progressive enlightenment to the Zen concept of "awakening" in a real "aha" moment. If you want to come full circle and read about Zen-like concepts being applied to Indian mysticism, I highly recommend "Be Here Now" by Baba Ram Dass (Richard Alpert).
 
  • #3
Evo
Mentor
23,104
2,450
Since I was raised Catholic, I had never read or owned a Bible. My youger daughter was given one, so I started reading it. It's frightening and interesting what was considered acceptable back then, I'm reading it as a form of history.
 
  • #4
mgb_phys
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
7,774
12
Or like W.C. fields you could read them looking for loopholes
 
  • #5
18,037
7,392
Since I was raised Catholic, I had never read or owned a Bible. My youger daughter was given one, so I started reading it. It's frightening and interesting what was considered acceptable back then, I'm reading it as a form of history.
Yeah my GF tells me there is alot of animal sacrifice early in the Bible.
 
  • #6
Evo
Mentor
23,104
2,450
Yeah my GF tells me there is alot of animal sacrifice early in the Bible.
:frown: Yes, a lot.
 
Last edited:
  • #7
18,037
7,392
:frown: Yes, a lot.
Which surprised me because I thought animal sacrifice was Pagan and frowned on by the Church.

Also back to the Qu'ran. I was very surprised to see many "Biblical" characters in the text. I wonder what the relationship between the two books are and why they share characters.
 
  • #8
turbo
Gold Member
3,077
45
God said to Abraham "Kill me a son" and Abe said "Man, you gotta be putting me on." God said "No." Abe said "What?" God said "You can do what you want, Abe, but...next time you see me coming you'd better run." Abe said "Where do you want this killing done?" and God said "Out on Highway 61."

Wait til' you read about God's bet with the devil about Job, and the horrors that God visited on Job to win the bet and prove his point. There is not a lot of love and kumbaya in the old testament.
 
  • #9
Evo
Mentor
23,104
2,450
Which surprised me because I thought animal sacrifice was Pagan and frowned on by the Church.

Also back to the Qu'ran. I was very surprised to see many "Biblical" characters in the text. I wonder what the relationship between the two books are and why they share characters.
Mohammed believed he was a prophet of the same God as in the Old testament. I'll let someone more knowledgeable flesh that out.
 
  • #10
798
0
Which surprised me because I thought animal sacrifice was Pagan and frowned on by the Church.

Also back to the Qu'ran. I was very surprised to see many "Biblical" characters in the text. I wonder what the relationship between the two books are and why they share characters.
Are they not both abrahamic religions?


Give some of this a read. I know it is wikipedia and religion so there could be some bias but alot of it is goo dstuff as far as I have read.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abrahamic_religion
 
Last edited:
  • #11
Evo
Mentor
23,104
2,450
The Bible even goes into what the priests were to wear, relly elaborate stuff, colorful, purple, with pomegranites embroidered on the hems, God was quite the fashion designer.
 
  • #12
turbo
Gold Member
3,077
45
Which surprised me because I thought animal sacrifice was Pagan and frowned on by the Church.

Also back to the Qu'ran. I was very surprised to see many "Biblical" characters in the text. I wonder what the relationship between the two books are and why they share characters.
The old testament predated the Church, and ritual sacrifices were performed by observant Jews well past the time of Jesus. Also, the Bible and Qu'ran came from a common religious tradition - Jesus is just another in a long line of prophets in the latter, though.
 
  • #13
18,037
7,392
Are they not both abrahamic religions?


Give some of this a read. I know it is wikipedia and religion so there could be some bias but alot of it is goo dstuff as far as I have read.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abrahamic_religion
No idea, I have really no background in any relgion or as a historical concept. Unfortunately the Qu'ran doesn't give background information or any history (yet). So when a character is mentioned, it feels very arbitrary.
 
  • #14
turbo
Gold Member
3,077
45
No idea, I have really no background in any relgion or as a historical concept. Unfortunately the Qu'ran doesn't give background information or any history (yet). So when a character is mentioned, it feels very arbitrary.
Reading translations of original texts is a bit dicey at times, because these (the Torah and Qu'ran especially) were passed down orally (rote memorization) for countless generations, and there was a social context that those adherents had that we lack today. For instance, if you read Leviticus, it was a grave offense for Jews to wear clothing woven of more than one type of fiber. In other words, all-cotton was OK, all-wool was OK, but a blend forbidden. Slavery was permitted, though releasing slaves was encouraged in Jubilee years. There were also some interesting social arrangements permissible if one's male relatives died, leaving their spouses widowed. If you can take a course locally that focuses on the historical placement of these texts in the context of nomadic tribes with oral traditions, who eventually settled and transitioned to agriculture, I think you'll get a lot more out of your readings.
 
  • #15
Evo
Mentor
23,104
2,450
It would be fun to read the books together on here. I'm willing to buy the Quran, I have a bible and would be interested in reading the Torah as well. We'd all have to have the same versions though.
 
  • #16
Math Is Hard
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
4,527
28
http://interoz.com/egypt/bkofdead.htm" [Broken]

I got this for my 12th birthday because I was fascinated with hieroglyphics.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #17
Evo
Mentor
23,104
2,450
Good suggestions Turbo. We do have some people here with quite an historical background. I believe Arildno is one.
 
  • #18
Evo
Mentor
23,104
2,450
Funny, I know someone that read the Bhagavad Gita and although he is an atheist, he'd pray for the spiders he'd have to kill for research and he's the world's top authority on spiders. We're talking MANY dead spiders.
 
  • #19
18,037
7,392
It would be fun to read the books together on here. I'm willing to buy the Quran, I have a bible and would be interested in reading the Torah as well. We'd all have to have the same versions though.
That would be awesome. This is one one I bought. It's a simple paperback and the translation is fairly modern.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/0940368188/?tag=pfamazon01-20

Maybe there is a better one, I don't know.
 
  • #20
turbo
Gold Member
3,077
45
It would be fun to read the books together on here. I'm willing to buy the Quran, I have a bible and would be interested in reading the Torah as well. We'd all have to have the same versions though.
Very important! The Jesuits released a translation of the Bible back in the '60s (the New Jerusalem Bible) in which they attempted to translate the earliest-known examples of each section of text. If you have a book that is written in Hebrew, translated to Aramaic, then to Greek, then to Latin, then to German, then to English there are many opportunities for error, unintentional or intentional. In their version of the Bible, Mary is a "maiden" and not a "virgin", and it appears that the word virgin crept into the Bible's Latin translations because of the Romans' long tradition of virginity cults.
 
Last edited:
  • #21
Evo
Mentor
23,104
2,450
That would be awesome. This is one one I bought. It's a simple paperback and the translation is fairly modern.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/0940368188/?tag=pfamazon01-20

Maybe there is a better one, I don't know.
I did see one suggestion in the reviews for another one. Let's see if there are any other suggestions and then decide.

This could be a lot of fun.
 
  • #22
mgb_phys
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
7,774
12
Mary is a "maiden" and not a "virgin", and it appears that the word virgin crept into the Bible's Latin translations because of the Romans' long tradition of virginity cults.
The trouble with all translations is you have simply moved the arguement up a level.
Does maiden imply virgin in English or simply unmarried?
It certainly used to mean virginal in many folk songs, although that usually got solved by about verse 3.
 
  • #23
turbo
Gold Member
3,077
45
The trouble with all translations is you have simply moved the arguement up a level.
Does maiden imply virgin in English or simply unmarried?
It certainly used to mean virginal in many folk songs, although that usually got solved by about verse 3.
Understood. The methodology of the Jesuits in compiling their Jerusalem Bible was to translate from the earliest known examples of each text directly into English, with the goal of producing a more historically accurate document. The Jesuits are perhaps the most scholarly branch of the Roman Catholic Church, and their penchant for questioning dogma has gotten them into hot water with the Vatican more than once.
 
Last edited:
  • #24
Astronuc
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
18,704
1,716
Rather than reading just Torah, I would recommend the entire Tanach. The Stone edition of the Tanach is one of the best modern versions, and I have a copy.

Rather than just the Torah (or Chumash), one should perhaps read the entire Tanach, which is Torah, Nevi'im (Prophets) and Ketuvim (Writings - Psalms, proverbs and others)

http://www.artscroll.com/stonetanach.html (offline between Friday-sundown and Saturday-sundown EST)

or https://www.amazon.com/dp/0899062695/?tag=pfamazon01-20

All 24 books of the Torah, Prophets, and Writings are now at your fingertips in one magnificent 2,200 page volume, as interpreted by the classic sages of Talmudic and Rabbinic literature.


Torah/Chumash

Genesis (Beresh!t: "In the beginning...")
Exodus (Shemot: "Names")
Leviticus (Vayyiqra: "And he called...")
Numbers (Bamidbar: "In the desert/wilderness...")
Deuteronomy (Devarim: "Words", "Discourses", or "Things")


Nevi'im (Prophets)

I. Joshua (Yehoshua)
II. Judges (Shoftim)
III. Samuel (Shmu'el)
IV. Kings (Melakhim)

V. Isaiah (Yeshayahu)
VI. Jeremiah (Yirmiyahu)
VII. Ezekiel (Yehezq'el)
VIII. Trei Asar (The Twelve Minor Prophets)


The Ketuvim

Group I: The Three Poetic Books (Sifrei Emet)

1. Tehillim (Psalms)
2. Mishlei (Book of Proverbs)
3. `Iyyov (Book of Job)

Group II: The Five Scrolls (Hamesh Megillot)

4. Shir ha-Shirim (Song of Songs) or (Song of Solomon)
5. Ruth (Book of Ruth) (Shavuot)
6. Eikhah (Lamentations)
7. Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) (Sukkot)
8. Esther (Book of Esther) (Purim)

Group III: Other Historical Books

9. Daniel (Book of Daniel)
10. Ezra (Book of Ezra-Book of Nehemiah)
11. Divrei ha-Yamim (Chronicles)


For further readings, I would suggest the commentaries of Rashi and theRambam (Maimonides)

Judism and Islam are considered to have common Abrahmic roots. Both Jewish and Islamic traditions consider Ishmael as the ancestor of Arab people.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ishmael
 
  • #25
mgb_phys
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
7,774
12
The methodology of the Jesuits in compiling their Jerusalem Bible was to translate from the earliest known examples of each text directly into English, with the goal of producing a more historically accurate document.
It's not that the translation is bad - it's that translations assume a common definition of the word in English.
Unless there is an appendix which states 'we take the term maiden to mean virgin' then it is more ambiguous than the original.
That's why patents and technical standards end up being written in such unreadable langauge, you have to define every word as you go.

To take a simple example 'bad' means something very different to a teenager and to their parent.
 
Last edited:

Related Threads for: Reading holy books for fun

Replies
13
Views
969
  • Last Post
7
Replies
162
Views
21K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
25
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
10
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
2
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
1
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
3
Views
1K
  • Last Post
Replies
4
Views
3K
Top