Culture colored glasses

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Culture colored glasses

Postby bn2bnude » Sat Oct 21, 2006 9:14 am

I was talking to a friend on the bus yesterday about reading the Bible with "culture colored glasses".

What I meant by this is that we tend to think of our culture when we read, not the culture the text was originally written in.

A good example of this is (may be) nudity. We are so clothing compulsive that we can't imagine functioning naked or mostly naked. We see, for example, pictures of Ruth in the wheat field fully clothed with a colorful robe. From what I have read on this forum as well as others, it is quite likely she didn't have much on at all. Some of the would be the cost of the clothing and the number of robes (1-2) she likely had.

What techniques do you (or can we) use to take off the culture glasses when we read scripture?
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Great observation

Postby willbtan » Sat Oct 21, 2006 12:25 pm

You are so right about seeing scripture through our cultural vision. This leads to misunderstanding the meaning of the text. I think it would be helpful if we would study some books that give us the cultural background of the times around the Biblical passage. Yes, it takes time, but we will be rewarded with a clearer understanding when the passage can be put in context of that culture.

All Scripture is profitable...

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Postby scurtis » Sat Oct 21, 2006 7:35 pm

An interesting thought Willbtan. Can you or anyone else recommend such a book or a series of books. Preferably something from the local library. The nearest bookstore is approx. 20 miles away. Not far, but the library is only 5 blocks away.
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Postby bn2bnude » Sun Oct 22, 2006 8:34 am

I'll throw out a couple of resources that are $0 and still require no trip to the library... Just patience.

http://aibi.gospelcom.net/pdf/creative_bible_study.pdf - I have not read it as I just found the resource but it looks like it has several different approaches to bible study.

The book "How to read the Bible for All It's Worth" by Gordon Fee. (This does require $ or a trip to the library). Amazon has it here...

http://www.e-sword.net - a fantasic program. Although you can download several different commentaries, I don't look at them as often as I look at the concordances.

A good Bible Encyclopedia (e-sword has the International Standard Bible Encylopedia for $0).

One speaker I recently heard talked about how, after he had become a Christian, he was given a "Scofield Study Bible" and, until using the techniques of "How to read the Bible for All It's Worth" used them primarily. After using that book, his cultural glasses were removed.
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Siloam Mystery

Postby deldelotta » Sun Oct 22, 2006 10:13 am

The pool of Siloam south of the Temple Mount has been discovered. Its placement suggests that it was used for cleansing on the way to the temple. That is, it served as a mikvah, which had to be used entirely nude. However, archaelogists are puzzled because it has "no provision for privacy." Perhaps users didn't require any.
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Re: Siloam Mystery

Postby jochanaan » Sun Oct 22, 2006 1:18 pm

deldelotta wrote:...archaelogists are puzzled because it has "no provision for privacy." Perhaps users didn't require any.

Which would indicate that, at least for ceremonies, Hebrews were accustomed to semi-public nudity. And the early Christians were mostly Hebrews; for them, baptism in the nude was no radically new thing but merely the mikveh, to which Jesus had given new or "renude" meaning... 8)

And there are so many other cultural things. I will merely mention the "long-hair" passage in I Corinthians 11, the prohibitions against women pastors...
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Postby natman » Mon Oct 23, 2006 1:25 pm

There is a book "How to Read the Bible for All It's Worth" by Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart that teaches you how to read the Bible in context.

It is available at...

http://www.equip.org/store/details.asp?SKU=SB815
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Re: Siloam Mystery

Postby MatthewNeal » Mon Oct 23, 2006 2:45 pm

deldelotta wrote:The pool of Siloam south of the Temple Mount has been discovered. Its placement suggests that it was used for cleansing on the way to the temple. That is, it served as a mikvah, which had to be used entirely nude. However, archaelogists are puzzled because it has "no provision for privacy." Perhaps users didn't require any.
I was fascinated by this!

I did a google search and found this video and modern day explanation of the ritual:

http://www.boomerstv.com/episodes_video.php?lid=239

yep, evidently she's fully nude... else there would have been no need for the careful camera angles!

Matt

Last edited by MatthewNeal on Thu Nov 16, 2006 1:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby bn2bnude » Mon Oct 23, 2006 11:05 pm

natman wrote:There is a book "How to Read the Bible for All It's Worth" by Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart that teaches you how to read the Bible in context.

It is available at...

http://www.equip.org/store/details.asp?SKU=SB815


I ordered it for a few $$ less at Amazon yesterday.
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Postby scurtis » Tue Oct 24, 2006 12:12 am

Thank you for the resources!

Is interesting and sad to know that I have been a professing Christian most of my life, attended a Christian University, married a preacher/teacher's daughter and served as a layman. Yet, I had never heard of a mitveh, nude baptism. biblical era clothing or many other things until I found the Village.

Is sad that it isn't being taught and is even sadder that I had never thought to check into biblical culture on my own.

It would make sense for Christian colleges and universities to offer such a class. It would have made an interesting Sociology classs (Biblical Sociology 1A). Perhaps they do now, I was in school 35+ years ago.
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Postby LivingFree » Tue Oct 24, 2006 3:22 am

The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, 5 vols, is much more recent than International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, and so would have much more recent information available. It's well worth the money, and could probably be found, used, on alibris. A trip to a regional Christian book store, or checking out Bible Book Stores on Google, is another option, well worth the effort, to get at specialty books on Bible Life and Times.

Regarding the Pool of Siloam, it was originally built by King Hezekiah, and fed by a man made tunnel cut through the soft limestone rock layers from the Gihon Spring outside the city wall. It was built to provide a water source for the city in times of seige. The amazing feat is that two sets of workmen worked simultaneously, one from the Pool of Siloam inside the city, and the other from the Gihon Spring outside the city wall. When they both met, deep underground, they were only a few inches off. What amazing mathematical calculations in such an early era.

In Jesus' day, the Pool features in the story of the blind man, whom Jesus told to go wash his eyes, and they were opened. The pool certainly had multiple uses, namely as a water supply, a place for bathing, and certainly perhaps a mikvah. But also there were a number of pools built around the temple where people could perform ritual baths. There was also a pool where people waited for the "troubling of the waters" and the first one in was healed. I've often wondered how many of them lounged under the porches of that pool fully naked, ready to jump into the water the moment it started to bubble. Anyone remaining clothed would never have a chance. And it was thought that a person with clothes on could not be fully cleansed. It was necessary, in the case of a ritual cleansing, or a healing bath, for the entire body to come into contact with water.
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Postby dune_nude#2 » Tue Nov 07, 2006 12:40 am

Everyone, thanks for posting those resouces for readinf Scripture in context. That is something that I would say most of us do without realizing it, but I think that understanding the contex of what we are reading will drastically change our understanding of the text itself. Thanks for that.
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Re: Siloam Mystery

Postby dby » Sun Nov 26, 2006 9:32 am

deldelotta wrote:The pool of Siloam south of the Temple Mount has been discovered. Its placement suggests that it was used for cleansing on the way to the temple. That is, it served as a mikvah, which had to be used entirely nude. However, archaelogists are puzzled because it has "no provision for privacy." Perhaps users didn't require any.


It hasn't been mentioned in this thread, but there is a specific way in which a person prepares themselves to immerse in a Mikveh.

First, all obvious barriers to the water are removed including clothing, hair ribbons, jewelry, watches, contact lenses, bandages, etc. The hair is unbraided.

Dirt is removed from under finger and toenails. Then the nails are trimmed short.

Makeup is removed from the face, and any other powders (talcum, deoderant, etc) is washed off.

The hair is washed with shampoo and any henna or other unnatural hair color is to be washed out.

The entire body is washed with soap paying special attention to areas where the skin folds - armpits, under the breasts of women (and fat men). A loufa or rough cloth is used to remove dead skin cells as part of this phase.

Dentures, if present, are removed and the teeth are brushed and flossed.

The hair of the head is brushed out to make sure that there are no knots or tangles. The hair of the body is gone over with a fine-toothed comb to make sure there are no tangles or adhesions left.

Then the person is ready to immerse in the mikveh. Under the water it is proper to run your hands over the skin to remove air bubbles. Someone outside the pool should watch as you immerse your head to make sure none of your hair remained on top of the water.

So there is careful washing that occurs before immersion. On the spiritual level this relates to repentance.

You start by repenting of the really obvious gross things - the dirt under the nails that would cause your Mama to send you away from the table. The nails are trimmed down so no more dirt can accumulate there. So we seek what it is in our lives that caused those sins to accumulate and remove those things.

Just as the makeup is removed, so too we must turn from all our false fronts that we put up, the hypocrisy in our lives.

Just as the hair and skin is washed, we repent for those smaller things that wouldn't be seen from a distance, but are obvious to those closest to us.

Just as the inside of the mouth is washed we need to repent of those internal things which cause our speech to be impure.

Just as the dead skin cells are brushed off, so too we must turn from dead works.

Just as the hair is checked with a fine-toothed comb, so too we must check our lives for any hidden entanglements that bind us down.

Then, when we enter the mikveh every area of our life is washed. There are no barriers between us and God. It is an outward picture of what we are supposed to be doing internally.

Realize that Christianity started within Judaism and these were the procedures that the earliest followers would have been using - because it was part of the culture they were raised in. That is why all the earliest Christian baptisms were done in the nude. Just as Christianity moved away from following these procedures, they perhaps became less repentant as well. They moved to wearing clothing which provided a barrier, and their spiritual lives retained the barriers as well. Think of the amount of makeup that is worn by some of the women hosts of Christian TV that we have seen - is the facade really being removed in a pentatenial manner on the spiritual level?

Just some things to consider. There are some deep spiritual meanings when you consider these things. I realize that Christian tradition has been built up over the centuries that a person should only go through 1 baptism. But again, realize that this was not always so. The Bible commands this washing every month for a woman when her cycle has ended. And for a man everytime he has an emmission. For a couple everytime they have sexual relations. It gives the idea that repentance is something that should occur frequently. Many of the Orthodox men in Europe go through the mikveh every morning just on general principle.

There is an old adage that you should make sure that you repent the day before you die. And since you don't know the day of your death, you should therefore repent every day.
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Postby jochanaan » Sun Nov 26, 2006 2:36 pm

Wow! So apparently for the mikveh a person removed not only all dirt but also everything artificial. Not a bad way to live our lives. :)
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Postby dby » Sun Nov 26, 2006 5:31 pm

jochanaan wrote:Wow! So apparently for the mikveh a person removed not only all dirt but also everything artificial. Not a bad way to live our lives. :)


Exactly, and the spiritual concept is that the Ruach HaQodesh (Holy Spirit) is that in which we are immersing ourselves with no barriers between us and Him. So the concept of "the baptism of the Holy Spirit" isn't something which originated with Christianity, rather you even find it taught in the Hebrew Scriptures if you know where to look. Hassidic Judaism founded by the Baal Shem Tov was very charismatic for that time period, they believed in the infilling of the Ruach HaQodesh. In Hassidic Judaism there is much discussion of the concept of "Klippah" ("husks") which surround us because of our sins. We are to peal away those husks so that there is nothing between us and His Spirit. That is why the idea of the "OR" (light) becoming "OR" (skin) is so important - it was the first "husk" put into place. And the husk that we finally shed at the end of our life. In the interum time we are to seek that immersion in the Holy Spirit. The word "Mikveh" appears in the Hebrew Scriptures a total of 12 times in 10 verses. Here are some of them:

Jeremiah 17:13 "The Mikveh of Israel, YHVH! All that forsake Thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from Thee shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken YHVH, the fountain of living waters."
Jeremiah 50:7 "All that found them have devoured them; and their adversaries said: 'We are not guilty'; because they have sinned against YHVH, the habitation of justice, even the Mikveh of their fathers - YHVH!" These 2 verses clearly show the concept of immersing ourselves in Him, that He is "the fountain of Mayim Chayim" ('living waters').

Jeremiah 14:8 "Mikveh of Israel, their Savior in time of trouble, why should You be like a stranger in The Land, a wayfarer that turns aside to stay for a night?" Again, the same idea that we immerse ourselves in Him and stay there rather than just a momentary event that lasts but for a night.

1 Chronicles 29:15 "For we are strangers before Thee, and sojourners, as all our fathers were: our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is no Mikveh." Again the idea that the immersion is not occuring as it should.

Ezra 10:2 "... We have broken faith with our God, and have married foreign women of the peoples of the land; yet now there is Mikveh for Israel concerning this thing." In spite of past sins, we can still go to Him and become immersed.

The first use of "Mikveh" is in Genesis 1:10 "... the Mikveh of waters He called 'Seas'..." - as a result all natural rivers, lakes, oceans, etc are considered to be valid Mikveh pools. Even in the middle of the Russian winter the Jewish community would build a bonfire at the edge of the lake, chop a hole in the ice and use the lake for immersion. The shock of ice cold water followed by being quickly wrapped completely in hot towels. Obviously the preliminary preperations for the use of the mikveh was performed in the warmth of the home and not in the lake itself, and the trip to the lake was in a fully clothed state.

Exodus 7:19 "... Speak unto Aaron, 'Take thy rod, and stretch out thine hand upon the waters of Egypt, upon their streams, upon their rivers, and upon their ponds, and upon all their Mikvehs of water, that they may become blood ..." All the places that the Egyptians used to bathe themselves was turned to blood, to remember the blood of all the male infants that the Egyptians threw into the Nile.

Leviticus 11:36 "Nevertheless a fountain or a cistern wherein is a water Mikveh shall be clean; but he who toucheth their carcass shall be unclean." The Mikveh does not become unclean because of a dead animal falling into it. The Mikveh only cleans, it never becomes fouled - no matter how polluted it looks on the physical level.

1 Kings 10:28 "Also Solomon’s import of horses was from Egypt and Mikveh, and the king’s merchants procured them Mikveh for a price." The same spelling, but another meaning. The "Mi" prefix on a word means "from", so this should be read as "from K'veh". For some odd reason, King James rendered this as "linen yarn". Some other translations say "from Kue" which doesn't look like a proper transliteration to me. This usage is also found in 2 Chronicles 1:16.
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