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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Readings and Ramblings

Salaam, Nabad, Shalom, and Peace all,

Update: As of Aug 16 I am almost done with the Torah (Genesis-Deut) and have read 35 of the Psalms as well. I'm waiting to start the Quran until Ramadan.

Our little family was productive today. The hubby and myself are now licensed Oregon drivers with Oregon license plates. It wasn't actually all that bad. We did forget one paper at home to prove our address, so Dave had to drive back while I stayed at the counter with Layla. She was really good, but I didn't bring the camera. So it's out with the old, Minnesota, and in with the new, Oregon. Our tabs had expired in July, so we figured to just get it all done in one shot.

My mom and brother are coming tomorrow! I'm so excited. My mom just saw Layla right before we moved, but after seeing her every day for a year she's going through withdrawls. I don't blame her though. I can't wait to show them around the city. We are also planning to go to Mt. St. Helens during the week. I want them to fall in love with it so they move here when my dad retires.

I have gotten a jump start on the Bible reading part of my Ramadan Challenge. I'm already to Exodus 22. I have some comments and insights from my readings in Genesis, but I may just write a few notes and post them later. As far as the Bible is concerned, the most ancient period of Israelite history excites me the most. Unfortunately, the texts themselves were written long after the events they are purported to describe. I do believe that oral transmission of stories was pretty reliable during that time, but the details are still sketchy. I always find that part of the Bible drawing me in. I'm not so into theology. I like the human interest stories in Genesis, Joshua, Judges, I and II Samuel and I and II Kings the best. No matter how you look at the inspiration issue, I think that most of the Old Testament's authors were great storytellers and writers.

Do any of you Muslimas who were People of the Book previously miss reading the Bible, or do you still read it sometimes?


Sarah the Seeker said...

I'm amazed at the amount of reading you're planning to do! I am too slow, but I intend to do more over Ramadan.

I know I've come across at least a couple of Muslims in the blogosphere that appreciate the Bible.

Nikki said...

I miss my old feelings towards the Bible. The feeling that "as I read this I'll come to know God better/know what he wants for my life." I never really read it consistently before, I'd go through phases where I'd eat it up for awhile and then it'd gather dust for awhile. I have four Bibles actually. My church gives you one when you enter 6th grade, one when you graduate 8th grade, one when you graduate high school, and one when you graduate college(I haven't received that one yet, but probably will seeing as how no one there knows I'm Muslim). I also have one my parents bought me in 2nd grade. I've always treasured them and don't like changing how I feel about them. They're sitting on my bookshelf. I'm trying to focus on (finishing) the Qur'an right now, but I'd still like to read the Bible. As a Christian I felt that I had to appreciate the whole thing as God's word, thus, I forced myself through it all, even the boring parts. Now I'm excited to pick and choose, lol. No more begats and no more temple measurements...

Candice said...

I've never read the Bible. Small, tiny parts of it, yes. But not enough to get a feel for it, or even a feel for one of the parts. I'm kind of interested in reading it though, but I don't have any real plans for it right now... And I don't own one. My family has one falling apart from the beginning of the 1900s but I'm not sure it should move. And there's a New Testament written in modern style French language there, but I don't like to imagine the Bible in French. And I almost feel like it's translated from the English translation which is creepy.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

@Sarah, I think that Muslims should study the Bible, because it is still part of the heritage of Islam. It may be considered to be replaced by the Quran in a sense, but I still think that knowing the whole history from start to finish can illuminate your studies of Islam as well!

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

@Nikki, I have a lot of Bibles too. I have at least 4 in English, 2 Hebrew, 2 Greek, and numerous resources for studying the original languages. Its a part of my life that I enjoy and would never give up.
I also have an English Quran translation (Y. Ali), an Arabic one I can't read much of, oh and I have an Arabic Bible as well.

I am just getting to the Tabernacle measurements and the genealogies. I hope I can manage to plow through them!

There's nothing wrong with picking and choosing though. One of my favorite is to read the Quranic and Biblical versions of various stories of the prophets.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

@Candice, You can probably check into the particular French translation and find out whether it was translated directly from the Greek or from an English translation. Of course no translation is without bias, but its much better if the translated directly from the Greek.

You should start with the Quran for Ramadan and see where it goes from there!

Susanne said...

I recently finished reading through the Old Testament and greatly enjoyed it. I was surprised how much I enjoyed some books that I didn't think I would like so much. Even though Chronicles has a lot of names, I really found some GREAT stories in there. And in Jeremiah, I felt God's heart as He was rejected over and over again by Israel as they served foreign gods. It was so neat!

And as you mentioned in your post, I think oral transmission was much better than it is today. Even the Quran was transmitted orally at first and that was hundreds of years post-Bible. Nowadays I wouldn't like orally-transmitted things because my culture doesn't transmit information well that way. But I think some ancient cultures did that extremely well.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

@Susanne, I like Isaiah and Jeremiah both a lot.
I didn't used to think that oral transmission could be very reliable until I stared hanging out with Somalis. They had a history of oral poetry much like the Arabic-speaking Bedouins. The amount of poetry that some older people have memorized is staggering. They also have many stories that have been passed in virtually the same form for generations. I think that really helped me understand the role oral transmission had, especially in the early Patriarchal period.

Our culture doesn't do well with oral transmission. Just look at the "telephone" game. Here the message gets garbled after only a few transmissions. However, I once heard of a study among modern Bedouin where they tried this game, and the message didn't change at all over many times of being passed.

Sarah the Seeker said...

Stacy, your comment about oral transmission is fascinating. There seem to be two types of transmission, verbatim and non-verbatim; Quran is clearly memorised word-for-word but some other oral traditions such as hadith-type stories may not have been. I wonder whether you feel oral transmission was equally reliable for verbatim and non-verbatim messages in these ancient cultures? Or was it all verbatim memorisation do you think?

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

Interesting question. I'm not really qualified to answer that, I suppose, but I will give you my opinion.
There were very few texts that were verbatim in the ancient Israelite culture. One of these was the so-called priestly blessing. A very ancient copy of this was found in recent years written on a silver scroll that was probably worn as an amulet. The text there is an alternate version to the one actually preserved in the Bible.

Scholars think that there were probably different regional forms of a blessing that was formulaic in nature. Thus, there was a basic formula, but certain words in it could be changed to fit a certain situation.

Most of the works in the O.T. Bible were probably preserved in a flexible, non verbatim format until literacy become more common around the 8th Cent. BCE. The O.T. that we have today is a product of the late Israelite monarchy for the most part.

The New Testament was a product of a more literate society, so that is why the books that were canonized only have certain types of variants, most due to the fact that they were hand copied by scribes. Some of them copied as a reader read the text to them, which made errors with homonyms more common.

The Quran was also a product of a society that was literate to an extent. It was definitely a verbatim message from the onset. Why?

The Quran was considered sacred utterance by the Muslims from the moment it left the mouth of Muhammad.

I think this is the key point. The writers of the New Testament were literate, but they did't necessarily know that they were writing sacred scriptures. This was decided later. They were just trying to preserve the message of Jesus as they had witnessed it.

On the other hand, the followers of Muhammad tried harder to memorize and preserve the Quran because they believed it to be the word of God from the very beginning.

Again, just my 2 cents :)

NeverEver said...

Wa alaikum a salam Fahiima!

Yes I do actually still read the Bible. It helps me to remember why I made the choice that I did, and also allows me to more accurately describe my reasons to other Christians.
I made notes on post its and lists of questions. I still get really excited when I find a verse or section that says the same thing the Qur'an does, lol. This actually happens a whole lot!
I went through and also read stories, especially the story of Joseph (Yousef) in the Bible and the Qur'an and thought the similarities were so interesting.
I especially like to read the "red letter" versions of the Bible to see if I can find anything that Jesus said and compare it to the teachings of Islam. They are also amazingly similar!

So yes, I do still read the Bible, but when I have questions I go to the Qur'an for answers. :-D

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

@NeverEver, I just read through the two stories of Yusuf recently too. The different emphases are interesting.
I like your idea of just looking at the red letters in the gospels too. My husband said he did that recently to try to get a better idea of Jesus' sayings without all the narrative around it.

I'm sure you're really excited about Ramadan!

I hope you get some time to post on your continuing insights. You're a really insightful new Muslimah.

Sarah the Seeker said...

So the oral transmission of OT stories was mostly non-verbatim, yet highly accurate? That's interesting... I wonder if the same is true for hadith. I'm trying to weigh up how accurate the picture of early Islam is, as presented by hadith. I've tended to doubt them, but I wonder now whether I am wrong.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

@Sarah, The situation with the O.T. transmission was pretty complex. I think that some of the prayers, psalms, and other poetic parts of the O.T. were memorized in a pretty static format.
Stories and narrative content were passed down in forms varying from region. This can be seen if you look into the J and E texts of the Torah.
I think that the hadiths were more like these, as there are sometimes varying accounts of a hadith on the same topic. This is based upon a person's actual memory of the event that was then told to others who wrote it down. The basic points are the same, but the wording varies somewhat.

William said...

There is nothing human about the Judges. Its purely sadistic. Look at (Judges 21:10-24 NLT)where men are ordered to kill and rape an entire town and then when they want more virgins, they hide beside the road to kidnap and rape some more.
How can anyone see this as anything but evil?

William said...

"They must be dividing the spoils they took: there must be a damsel or two for each man, Spoils of dyed cloth as Sisera's spoil, an ornate shawl or two for me in the spoil. (Judges 5:30 NAB)
Once again the bible promotes forcible rape and slavery!