Indifferent about the Judeo-Christian Bible

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
6,866
#61
Let's explain my "evolved feelings" towards the Christian Scripture:

As a child, I went to a Christian "summer Christian Scripture class" and was a little impressed; then, I read part of the "New Testament".
My brother went to a Christian secondary school and had a few books of "testimonies of faiths".
Interestingly enough, my brother remains non-religious and almost an atheist.
I had a state of "superficial belief" from childhood to the third year of university.
I learned about Lucy the australopithecus and rejected the Genesis story.
This was my turn towards agnostic atheism, and today I understand that Buddhism is agnostic atheistic.
Still at that point, I valued the Christian Scripture as a valuable piece of literature and ethic guide.
Then, at one point, I tried to "test" the threats of Christians and discarded all copies of Christian Scripture and Christian pamphlets.
Nothing happens, of course.
Some people have suggested that the Christian Scripture is the most owned and least read texts.
Funny enough, some testimonies state that full reading of the Christian Scripture turned some Christians into ex-Christians.

I tried to read Buddhist writings, but found it tedious in the extreme, and also lacking in any real historical information.

Far more people actually read the Bible and know its stories first hand than have actually read any Buddhist scripture. While groups meeting weekly to study and read the Bible are quite common, the same cannot be said for Buddhism. The Bible, unlike Buddhist writing, played a significant role in promoting literacy, and areas where reading the Bible was actively encouraged, high literacy rates resulted, such as in Puritan New England, and Scotland. I believe de Tocquiville that if an American frontier family possessed any books, it would likely be the Bible and the works of Shakespeare

While Buddhism also had a role in bringing literacy to some countries like Japan, its role and impact was far less than the role Christianity and the Bible played in promoting literacy. Many Christisn groups, such as the Puritan, felt reading the Bible was a religious duty to be promoted, which had the benefit of promoting literacy, which is why Christian societies achieved very high levels of literacy before Buddhist ones did, and those of other religions. The Bible is actually a rather a good book to promote literacy, since it includes a wide variety of genres, including poetry, history, theological discussion, letters, just so stories, parables, and others.

I am curious what Buddhist scriptures have you read? And what short Buddhist scripture would you recommend reading? Something comparable in length to a Gospel, or the book of Genesis.
 

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,185
Brassicaland
#62
I tried to read Buddhist writings, but found it tedious in the extreme, and also lacking in any real historical information.

Far more people actually read the Bible and know its stories first hand than have actually read any Buddhist scripture. While groups meeting weekly to study and read the Bible are quite common, the same cannot be said for Buddhism. The Bible, unlike Buddhist writing, played a significant role in promoting literacy, and areas where reading the Bible was actively encouraged, high literacy rates resulted, such as in Puritan New England, and Scotland. I believe de Tocquiville that if an American frontier family possessed any books, it would likely be the Bible and the works of Shakespeare

While Buddhism also had a role in bringing literacy to some countries like Japan, its role and impact was far less than the role Christianity and the Bible played in promoting literacy. Many Christisn groups, such as the Puritan, felt reading the Bible was a religious duty to be promoted, which had the benefit of promoting literacy, which is why Christian societies achieved very high levels of literacy before Buddhist ones did, and those of other religions. The Bible is actually a rather a good book to promote literacy, since it includes a wide variety of genres, including poetry, history, theological discussion, letters, just so stories, parables, and others.

I am curious what Buddhist scriptures have you read? And what short Buddhist scripture would you recommend reading? Something comparable in length to a Gospel, or the book of Genesis.
I perfectly understand the popularity and appeal of the Christian Bible; then, it doesn't appeal to me.
People have different paths and ways; insulting ex-followers of religions will not do a thing.
These quotes by George Bernard Shaw respect individual differences way more than Christianity:

THE GOLDEN RULE
Do not do unto others as you would that they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the
same.
Never resist temptation: prove all things: hold fast that which is good.
Do not love your neighbor as yourself. If you are on good terms with yourself it is an
impertinence: if on bad, an injury.
The golden rule is that there are no golden rules.

The true golden rule would be "respect individual differences and address the unique needs or aspirations".
The Buddhist text I suggest would be Agama.
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
6,866
#63
I perfectly understand the popularity and appeal of the Christian Bible; then, it doesn't appeal to me.
People have different paths and ways; insulting ex-followers of religions will not do a thing.
These quotes by George Bernard Shaw respect individual differences way more than Christianity:

THE GOLDEN RULE
Do not do unto others as you would that they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the
same.
Never resist temptation: prove all things: hold fast that which is good.
Do not love your neighbor as yourself. If you are on good terms with yourself it is an
impertinence: if on bad, an injury.
The golden rule is that there are no golden rules.


The true golden rule would be "respect individual differences and address the unique needs or aspirations".
The Buddhist text I suggest would be Agama.
The Agama doesn't refer to a specific text, but is a term for a collection of sutras/discourses of the early Mahayanistic Buddhist school, with 4 primary agama in Chinese translations, and each agams seems a tediously long multi volume collection. From spot checking a few of the volumes they seem tedious, lacking any comprehensive overall structure or theme, send talking a lot about trivial.stuff I have zero interest, and lacking historical detail. Life is too short to read such, in my view, drivel. If have some specific recommendation or sections to read, I would attempt to read it, but not several pages that says nothing meaningful to me. At the least the Gospels are much shorter and tell a story, instead of droning on like the worse college professor I ever had.

At least the Bible as a variety of different styles and literary genres, and often tell compelling story, none of which I can find in the super tedious agama you recommend. Not only are the Gospels way shorter by comparison, but the story is full of drama, pathos, and triumph. To go from the triumphant entry on Palm Sunday to an ignoble death deserted by all his closest followers less than week later, to an ultimate triumph just 3 days later after all seemed lost is really a very dramatic tale, better than what I have seen from any of the Buddhist. I guess that is why movies based on the life of Buddha aren't blockbusters, too full.

I guess that is why the Bible is the top selling book in history inspiring a number of blockbuster movies, while the Buddhist books don't rate smong the top 50 I would say, and inspired no blockbuster movie I am aware of.




Thanks
 

Theodoric

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
2,590
#64
I think the bible gets a bad rap because I honestly feel people read it the wrong way. The order it's presented makes it unappealing.

The Chronological ordering of the Torah before Joshua doesn't work well, because the Torah is not really a book about history. It's a series of heroic stories, metaphors, and rules. This is going to turn A LOT of people off, some of the stuff is just crazy guy on mescaline preachy: "The village must smite thee who wears the cloth of two thread and eats snails by hand on the day of the LORD!" (a slightly hyperbolic parody, not actual text)

Then another book that gets A LOT of attention, Revelation. Revelation is basically in the style of books like Isaiah and Daniel, and IMO comes out as very preachy and wishy-washy, full of WAAAY too much metaphor: about the whole thing is a series of metaphors. "And from the tall green waves came billions of unicorns with the heads of dragons, and they trampled down 7 lambs who each had 17 eyes... WOE onto them!" (parody, not actual text... not even hyperbolic)

So where DO you start? IMO, start with the Book of Joshua.

Here is a list of my reading recommendations from the Bible, a bit of a starters guide. These are FAR easier to digest, and not just due to the nature of the content, but also the pacing of the content:
Joshua
Judges
Ruth
Samuel 1 and 2
Kings 1 and 2
Chronicles 1 and 2
Esdras
Ezra
Nehemiah
Tobias (Tobit)
Judith
Esther
Maccabees 1-4
the Gospel of Mark
the Gospel of John (Better if you have a background in Platonism; otherwise, some key parts will be head-scratchers)
Book of Acts (Optional)

And you can also throw in Song of Songs/Solomon in there too, it's entertaining for its high amount of innuendo.

Gospel of Mark is often called the worst Gospel - but I disagree - I think this is the easiest to digest and BY FAR the best paced and most powerfully stated of the 4.

John is the most complex of the Gospels, it is filled with reference and kind of assumes a more intellectual audience... But basically, if you have read Plato's Republic and understand it, maybe know some basic Platonic theology (such as concepts like Word/Logos, and father/son theology, etc...) then you'll be more than good, and you'll probably find John to be interesting.
 
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VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,185
Brassicaland
#68
My last finished Chinese classic is "The Discourse of Balance"(my translation) (论衡)
In spite of scientific inaccuracy of the time, it is a powerful force against superstitions that have persisted today.
Due to my atheist tendencies (absence of beliefs in deities; Buddha has transcended death and cycle of life, he is NOT a deity per se), I am quite fond of "the Discourse of Balance".
If Christians have the spirit of Wang Chong, they will give up their faiths very soon.
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
6,866
#69
My last finished Chinese classic is "The Discourse of Balance"(my translation) (论衡)
In spite of scientific inaccuracy of the time, it is a powerful force against superstitions that have persisted today.
Due to my atheist tendencies (absence of beliefs in deities; Buddha has transcended death and cycle of life, he is NOT a deity per se), I am quite fond of "the Discourse of Balance".
If Christians have the spirit of Wang Chong, they will give up their faiths very soon.

Why? The Chinese and others haven't given up on their believe in Buddha,.and despite claims.otherwise, Buddhism is.really at a religion as practiced in China.

Nor did the Discourse of Balance eliminate superstition in China, which is as superstition as any country. If the Chinese had the spirit of Wang Chong, they would give up ideas such as fen shui. But apparently the spirit Want Chong does even hold sway in China..
 
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VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,185
Brassicaland
#70
Why? The Chinese and others haven't given up on their believe in Buddha,.and despite claims.otherwise, Buddhism is.really at a religion as practiced in China.

Nor did the Discourse of Balance eliminate superstition in China, which is as superstition as any country. If the Chinese had the spirit of Wang Chong, they would give up ideas such as fen shui. But apparently the spirit Want Chong does even hold sway in China..
Wang Chong claims that humans are products of nature rather than any deities; "天地合氣,人偶自生” (humans are born of nature) is his own words.
Buddhism isn't interested in origin at all; Buddha called it "the unknowable" or non-issue.
Wang Chong was way ahead of his time in many ways that many consider him a "time traveler" (穿越者); he was never a mainstream thinker during his time.
 

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