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This is from the Holy Bible...


This is the story of how Jephthah
made a deal with God!

If God would give him victory
over the people of Ammon
then Jephthah would make a burned offering to God
of the first thing that walks out of his house when he returns home.

This story begins with the very important words:

"Then
the Spirit of the Lord
came upon Jephthah!"






Judges 11:29 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah,

and he passed through Gilead
and Manasseh,
and passed through Mizpah of Gilead;
and from Mizpah of Gilead
he advanced toward the people of Ammon.

Jud 11:30 And Jephthah
MADE A VOW TO THE LORD,
and said,
"If You will indeed deliver
the people of Ammon into my hands,

Jud 11:31 "then it will be that
whatever comes out of the doors
of my house to meet me,
when I return in peace
from the people of Ammon,

shall surely be the LORD'S,
and I WILL OFFER IT UP
AS A BURNT OFFERING."


Jud 11:32 So Jephthah advanced toward the people of Ammon to fight against them,

AND THE LORD DELIVERED
THEM INTO HIS HANDS.


( Now Jephthah keeps his part of the bargain! )

Jud 11:34 When Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah,
there was his daughter,
coming out to meet him with timbrels and dancing;
and she was his only child.
Besides her he had neither son nor daughter.

Jud 11:35 And it came to pass,
when he saw her,
that he tore his clothes, and said,
"Alas, my daughter!
You have brought me very low!
You are among those who trouble me!

For I have given my word to the LORD, AND I CANNOT GO BACK ON IT."



( Then....
We even have Jephthah's little daughter agreeing that because Jephthah gave his word to God,
he made an oath,
he must keep that oath.
She says: )

Jud 11:36 "My father," she replied,
"you have given your word
to the LORD.

Do to me just as you promised,
now that the LORD has avenged you
of your enemies, the Ammonites.

Jud 11:37 But grant me this one request," she said.
"Give me two months to roam the hills and weep with my friends, because I will never marry."


And then we read how,
after the little girl returns,
Jephthah keeps the vow
that he made to the lord!


Jud 11:39 And it was so at the end of two months
that she returned to her father,

AND HE CARRIED OUT HIS VOW
WITH HER
WHICH HE HAD VOWED."



[ The vow was to burn her
on the altar
"to the Lord" ]













There is nothing here about God stopping Jephthah
in the way He supposedly did
when Abraham was supposedly
asked by Him
to sacrifice his son Isaac.


If there was a God actually listening
He could have stopped Jephthah

but

"HE CARRIED OUT HIS VOW
WITH HER
WHICH HE HAD VOWED."



The wars that follow this episode are similarly ignorant and savage.










NOT usually asked from pulpits:

WHY did not the rest of the clan
STOP Jephthah ?



Notice the additional information
"...and she was his only child.
Besides her he had neither son nor daughter."

Would having additional children
make it less sad to kill this one
as a "sacrifice to the Lord" ?


We know that in many cultures,
primitive peoples
did practice human sacrifice.


The fact that Jephthah
was not stopped by his clan,

and that it was passed down to us
as a religious story showing a commendable virtue,
suggests, at least,
that they did NOT view
human sacrifice with horror.


It is quite possible it was common among them.


( See the reference by Christian bishop Eusebius of Caesarea in Palestine
c. 263–339 AD to human sacrifice
- at right, below. )









What does it say about the people
who collected the writings
that we know as the
Old & New Testaments,
( in the early centuries of Christianity )
that they, too,
saw this as fit to include
in "God's Holy Word" ?

It's inclusion is a valuable
insight into their thinking.










"In former times,
when there was drought
and famine in the land,
men loaded the altars of the gods
with gifts intended
to placate their anger,
and to induce them to send
the wished-for rain.


Today, in famine-stricken India,
what is it that the wisest rulers
of the country are intent upon ?

They are studing how to supply on a stupendous scale artificial irrigation, how to increase the facilities of transportation, how to uplift the peasantry by education,
so that they may be able to employ more effective methods of agriculture.


In former times,
when the plague passed over Europe,
mowing down its millions,
the churches were thronged with multitudes of worshippers who besieged the Almighty
to withdraw the fearful scourge.

Today when an invasion of cholera threatens a country, the Kochs and Pasteurs are busy in their laboratories,


seeking to discover the germs of the disease;
and rigorous sanitation is everywhere applied to deprive those germs of the congenial soil in which they flourish.


The conception of a Heavenly Father,
interfering with
the operations of Nature,
arose when the teachings
of natural science were unknown."


- Prof. L. Adler ( son of a Rabbi )










Robert M. Price, PhD,
a former Baptist minister,
and professor of theology and scriptural studies at the Coleman Theological Seminary
argues reconstructions of the "historical Jesus" are, as Albert Schweitzer pointed out long ago, creating their own view of Jesus.



Christian faith,
whether fundamentalist or theologically liberal,
invariably tends to produce a Jesus
capable of playing the role
of a religious figurehead
for those differing views.





This is no surprise,
Price demonstrates,
since the Jesus Christ of the gospels
is very likely a fictional amalgam
of several first-century
prophets and messiahs,
as well as of purely mythic
Mystery Cult redeemers
and Gnostic Aions.


To show this, Price follows the noted scholar Burton Mack's outline of a range of "Jesus movements" and "Christ cults,"
showing the origins of each one's
Jesus figures
and how they may have finally merged into the patchwork savior of Christian dogma.

Finally, Price argues that there is good reason to believe that Jesus never existed as a historical figure,
and that responsible historians must remain agnostic about a "historical Jesus" and what he stood for.

"DECONSTRUCTING JESUS"



http://www.amazon.com/
Deconstructing-Jesus-Robert-M-Price
/dp/1573927589/ref=pd_sim_b_3








Abraham Lincoln (1809 - 1865):

"My earlier views of the unsoundness
of the Christian scheme of salvation

and the human origin of the scriptures

have become clearer and
stronger with advancing years,

and I see no reason for thinking
that I shall ever change them."






"The whole Christian myth
originated in illiterate,
savage minds..."







"Divine Insanity ?:

God ?
HAD to ?
kill himself on the cross ?
to save his own creation
from his own wrath ?"

???








" Christianity was only one
of a hundred religions
claiming special access
to truth and salvation;

and that myths of virgin births,
mother goddesses,
dying and resurrected deities,
had appeared in many
pre-Christian faiths,

and had helped to transform
a lovable Hebrew mystic
into the Son of God”


William J. Durant Ph.D. 1885 - 1981

Author of
"The Story of Philosophy" ,
"Heroes of History" .

Co-author of the comprehensive 11-volume
"The Story of Civilization"
which documents
the entire history of
Western civilization.

(From "A Dual Autobiography"
by Will and Ariel Durant, 1977.)







New reformation Leaving













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For a modern person, not indoctinated into Christianity,
the idea that Jesus ( supposedly "God's Son" ) HAD to suffer a crucified death
before God COULD allow Himself to forgive humanity's past, present & future sins;
and that ONLY those who believe this can be forgiven;
is very strange.

"He was crucified for our sins..."

"Were you there when they crucified my Lord, were you there...?"
sung emotionally, devotedly, prayerfully at Good Friday church services,
with the meaning "yes, you WERE there, YOUR sins put Him there.."


"God killed Himself on the cross to save His own creation from His own wrath ?"


How could anyone come up with this idea ?

Towards the end of this page is an instuctive example from a non-Jewish source.



The Scapegoat by William Holman Hunt, 1854.
Hunt had this framed in a picture with the quotations "Surely he hath borne our Griefs and carried our Sorrows; Yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of GOD and afflicted."
and "And the Goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a Land not inhabited." (Leviticus 16:22)



Here is how it started in the Bible:

( Often we don't really know what is really there.
Feel free to omit reading the quote,
but it is interesting
and a vital insight into the thinking........)


Did God really tell them to do this, or was it just their version of the animal & human sacrifices common among primitive peoples world wide ??

Why should this really be "God ordained" ?



( KJV - Authorised Version )

Lev 16:3 Thus shall Aaron come into the holy [place]: with a young bullock for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering.

Lev 16:4 He shall put on the holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches upon his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with the linen mitre shall he be attired: these [are] holy garments; therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and [so] put them on.

Lev 16:5 And he shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering.

Lev 16:6 And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin offering, which [is] for himself, and make an atonement for himself, and for his house.

Lev 16:7 And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the LORD [at] the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

Lev 16:8 And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat.

Lev 16:9 And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the LORD'S lot fell, and offer him [for] a sin offering.


Lev 16:10 But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement with him, [and] to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness.


Lev 16:11 And Aaron shall bring the bullock of the sin offering, which [is] for himself, and shall make an atonement for himself, and for his house, and shall kill the bullock of the sin offering which [is] for himself:

Lev 16:12 And he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the LORD, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring [it] within the vail:

Lev 16:13 And he shall put the incense upon the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that [is] upon the testimony, that he die not:


Lev 16:14 And he shall take of the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle [it] with his finger upon the mercy seat eastward; and before the mercy seat shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times.

Lev 16:15 Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that [is] for the people, and bring his blood within the vail, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat:


Lev 16:16 And he shall make an atonement for the holy [place], because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness.

Lev 16:17 And there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in to make an atonement in the holy [place], until he come out, and have made an atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel.

Lev 16:18 And he shall go out unto the altar that [is] before the LORD, and make an atonement for it; and shall take of the blood of the bullock, and of the blood of the goat, and put [it] upon the horns of the altar round about.

Lev 16:19 And he shall sprinkle of the blood upon it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it, and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel.


Lev 16:20 And when he hath made an end of reconciling the holy [place], and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat:

Lev 16:21 And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send [him] away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness:

Lev 16:22 And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.
*

Lev 16:23 And Aaron shall come into the tabernacle of the congregation, and shall put off the linen garments, which he put on when he went into the holy [place], and shall leave them there:

Lev 16:24 And he shall wash his flesh with water in the holy place, and put on his garments, and come forth, and offer his burnt offering, and the burnt offering of the people, and make an atonement for himself, and for the people.

Lev 16:25 And the fat of the sin offering shall he burn upon the altar.


Lev 16:26 And he that let go the goat for the scapegoat shall wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in water, and afterward come into the camp.

Lev 16:27 And the bullock [for] the sin offering, and the goat [for] the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the holy [place], shall [one] carry forth without the camp; and they shall burn in the fire their skins, and their flesh, and their dung.

Lev 16:28 And he that burneth them shall wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp.

Lev 16:29 And [this] shall be a statute for ever unto you: [that] in the seventh month, on the tenth [day] of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, [whether it be] one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you:

Lev 16:30 For on that day shall [the priest] make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, [that] ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD. Lev 16:31 It [shall be] a sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever.

Lev 16:32 And the priest, whom he shall anoint, and whom he shall consecrate to minister in the priest's office in his father's stead, shall make the atonement, and shall put on the linen clothes, [even] the holy garments:

Lev 16:33 And he shall make an atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make an atonement for the tabernacle of the congregation, and for the altar, and he shall make an atonement for the priests, and for all the people of the congregation.

Lev 16:34 And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year.

And he did as the LORD commanded Moses. "





I was reminded of this when I found : http://fayfreethinkers.com/tracts/scapegoat.shtml

Quote from there:
"These were very superstitious times and perhaps this was a way that people found to comfort their natural feelings of guilt.

According to Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary, the tradition was later modified a little:

"…the man in whose charge the goat was sent out, while setting him free,
was instructed to push the unhappy beast down the slope of the mountain side,
which was so steep as to insure the death of the goat,
whose bones were broken by the fall.


The reason of this barbarous custom was that
on one occasion the scapegoat returned to Jerusalem after being set free,
which was considered such an evil
omen that its recurrence was prevented for the future
by ensuring the death of the goat"
.






If you haven't already done so, please also read
"Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah!" in the green side panel....



I didn't realise that there was actual animal sacrifice still continued in Jerusalem
during the purported lifetimes of Jesus & the disciples:


( After the Roman destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem ( 70 CE/AD),
which made it impossible to continue the attonement animal sacrifice,
( Rabbi ) Yochanan ben Zakkai *( 30 CE/AD - 90 )
"comforted his pupils for the destruction of the Temple
and the discontinuance of the sacrifice of atonement."

http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=362&letter=J )

This indicates how primitive the Early Christian times & ideas were.

[ * Yochanan ben Zakkai, instead of trying to restore the "God - instructed" procedures elsewhere,
( and possibly making the Romans worried about a revival of Jewish nationalist rebellion ),
took a sensible view & taught that it was not necessary !

He totally ignored Leviticus 16:34:"...And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you.."
and concentrated on decent living.


It has to be seen as a great advance for Judaism. ]



It is easy to see how
the forced discontinuence
of the atonement sacrifices
and Jesus' crucifiction
were conflated into the "death for our sins" idea,
after it was obvious Jesus was NOT returning in his disciples' lifetime.







Ideas of killing children
to obtain good outcomes for people
already existed in pre-Christian times.


This is from a Phoenician ( non-Jewish, pre-Christian ) author, Sanchuniathon :


" But we are told that ( the god ) El slew his own son Sadidus
( a name that some commentators think might be a corruption of Shaddai,
one of the epithets of the Biblical El )
and that El also beheaded one of his daughters."

Later, perhaps referring to this same death of Sadidus we are told:

"But on the occurrence of a pestilence and mortality Cronus ( aka El )
offers his only begotten son as a whole burnt-offering to his father Sky
and circumcises himself, compelling his allies also to do the same.
"

A fuller account of the sacrifice appears later:

"It was a custom of the ancients in great crises of danger
for the rulers of a city or nation,
in order to avert the common ruin,
to give up the most beloved of their children
for sacrifice as a ransom to the avenging daemons;
and those who were thus given up were sacrificed with mystic rites.


Cronus then, whom the Phoenicians call Elus,
who was king of the country and subsequently, after his decease, was deified as the star Saturn,
had by a nymph of the country named Anobret an only begotten son,

whom they on this account called Iedud,
the only begotten being still so called among the Phoenicians;

and when very great dangers from war had beset the country,
he arrayed his son in royal apparel,
and prepared an altar,
and sacrificed him...
"


For more on the co-mingling of these influences see next section with this background color, below.


Unfortunately the Christian bishop Eusebius of Caesarea in Palestine c. 263–339 AD,
( a historian, exegete and polemicist, one of the more renowned Church Fathers, )

through whom the account by Phoenician author Sanchuniathon is preserved,
was not interested in setting the work forth completely or in order.

( Phoenicia, was an ancient civilization centered in the north of ancient Canaan,

practiced a form of Ancient Semitic religion,

with its heartland along the coastal regions of modern day Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Israel.

It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean during the period 1550 BC to 300 BC. )




Interestingly in Exodus 6.2–3:

The Hebrew word "El-Shaddai" is translated as "God Almighty".

(KJV)" And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the LORD:
and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob,
by the name of El-Shaddai * ;
but by my name Jehovah was I not known to them."


footnote 1 , http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus+6&version=NIV#fen-NIV-1659a

( * The term may mean "God of the mountains," referring to the Mesopotamian divine mountain.
The term was one of the patriarchal names for the tribal god of the Mesopotamians.


- Stephen L. Harris, Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985. )



Ritual sacrifices,
often connected to festivals surrounding a dying and resurrecting god,
were important in Phoenician religion.

Sacrifices of vegetable and animals were most common,
but human sacrifices occurred in times of difficulty.
Sacrifice and consumption of pigs, however, was taboo.

The preferred human sacrifice
was an innocent child who, as a vicarious victim,
represented the most extreme act of propitiation possible
and was probably intended to guaranteed the future of the entire community.

The areas where sacrifices were made were known as tofet,
which appears in Biblical texts as Topheth.

The sacrifice itself was known as a mulk offering.
Mulk is a Semitic term derived from the root 'king'
and is represented in the Bible as Molech.


" [Josiah] brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah,
and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense,
from Geba to Beersheba,
and brake down the high places of the gates that were in the entering in of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on a man's left hand at the gate of the city. ...

And he defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom,
that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech." [2 Kings 23:8-10]

" For the children of Judah have done evil in my sight, saith the Lord: they have set their abominations in the house which is called by my name, to pollute it.
And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire;
which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart.

Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that it shall no more be called Tophet, nor the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of slaughter: for they shall bury in Tophet, till there be no place." [Jeremiah 7:30-32]

From such passages it appears that people in Judah were actively participating in Phoenician religious rituals,
though Topheth here appears to refer to just one particular place.

A tofet could be found in every Phoenician city
- the one in Carthage, for example, is about 6,000 square meters in size
and contains thousands of urns with the cremated remains of animals
and small children sacrificed there over the centuries.

Retrieved March 29 2013 from : Phoenician-Ritual-Sacrifices




If the Resurrection claim of author of Matthew (the only one to do so )
that at the crucifixion dead people emerged from the graves of Jerusalem,
walking around showing themselves to everyone
REALLY HAPPENED
it would have been so recorded by Jewish religious writers,
Jewish and Roman secular authorities and certainly by the other NT writers.

( Matthew 27:52-53 New King James Version (NKJV)

" 52 and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised;
53 and coming out of the graves after His resurrection,
they went into the holy city and appeared to many."

Note the use of "saints", a much later concept,
if literally true would have had to have been Jews
since Jesus's disciples were still alive. )

The idea of Resurrection is tied in with, and is an analogy for re-birth of each day
( as in Egypt with the Sun-God ) and the "miracle" of Spring.

This is a common thread in many early religions' practices,
even in the idea of Re-Incarnation ( from seeing that the seed becomes re-born as the tree )

Our name "Easter" for these Holy Days is derived from Eastre (Old English goddess of the dawn, Greek counterpart was "Eos" )
and Ishtar, Astarte the Semitic Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility,
hence of Spring ie the time when life is resurrected after winter. )

When NT was finally & labouriously assembled some of the more fantastical writings were discarded,
what was seen as 'believable' ( by those who decided ) remains as the "Holy Word"

In view these factors and of similar claims for other "Dieties" of antiquity
many scholars view it all as on par with the claim that
Jesus promised to return "in Glory" within the lifetime of his listeners :

all mythical, clearly there to provide a focus for the new emergent religion
and enable it to win over the ( also fantastical ) claims of it's rival religions.


Dan Barker has summarised the inconsistences in the NT accounts here:
http://ffrf.org/news/blog/item/17425-easter-challenge

Also was in Freethought Today, March 1990.
In Losing Faith in Faith.
It is also a chapter in Godless: How An Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists





Arianism, a Christian variant view of Jesus

"saw Jesus Christ as not divine, simply an exceptional human being.

This reached a wide audience, from the imperial household down to humble citizens.

In 325 the Council of Nicaea condemned it.

After Constantine's death the Roman empire was divided on the issue,
and another condemnation was issued at Constantinople in 381.

Germanic invaders of the empire generally adopted Arianism
as it was simpler than orthodox Christianity.

It spread throughout western Europe and persisted in places until the 8th century."

Excerpted from The Oxford Interactive Encyclopedia
Developed by The Learning Company, Inc. Copyright (c) 1997 TLC Properties Inc. All rights reserved.






"Our God was made by men,
sculptured by savages who did the best they could.

They made our God somewhat like themselves,
and gave to him their passions,
their ideas of right and wrong.


As man advanced he slowly changed his God
- took a little ferocity from his heart,
and put a little kindness in his eyes.

As man progressed he obtained a wider view,
extending his intellectual horizon,

and again he changed his God,
making him as nearly perfect as he could,
and yet this God was patterned after those who made him...."

- Robert G. Ingersoll ( son of a minister )

_________________

* In fact there are good arguements
that a true historical Jesus may NOT have even existed....



Putting all this behind us is long overdue...



--------

The development of religious ideas, starting from basic Animism
& going on to present-day belief systems is a huge study.

This page : mix_stir_well.htm touches on some of the influences on the societies & religion of the early church.

Modern people can make the mistake of forgetting
that people in the past DID NOT have
the advantage of hard-won empirical knowledge
and reasoning skills.

These have been in development for centuries
and are now available to us.

It is our responsibility to use them.






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