GOD: You need to give your readers (if any are left) an example of the Bible being interpreted as tripe. Take that passage from Genesis that you used
to ponder over.
TERRY: I will use the Complete Jewish Bible by David Stern, this will help give a less waspish feel to the text, but I will stay with the more familiar Anglicized names.
Genesis chapter 9 starting at verse 20.
20 Noah, a farmer, was first to plant a vineyard. 21He drank so much of the wine that he got drunk and lay uncovered in his tent. 22Ham, the father of Canaan saw his father shamefully exposed, went out and told his two brothers. 23Shem and Japheth took a cloak, put it over both their shoulders, and walking backward, went in and covered their naked father lying there shamefully exposed.
24When Noah awoke from his wine, he knew what his youngest son had done to him. 25He said, “Cursed be Canaan; he will be a servant of servants to his brothers.” 26Then he said, “Blessed be ADONAI, the God of Shem; Canaan will be their servant. 27May God enlarge Japheth; he will live in the tents of Shem, but Canaan will be their servant.”
Genesis chapter 10 verse 6.
6The sons of Ham were Cush, Egypt, Phut and Canaan. This verse is repeated in 1 Chronicles 1:8.
TERRY: Now there are a few trivial problems with this story that don’t bother me at all. This is because I consider this story to be technically a myth.
These trivial problems are: Noah was about 700 years old and his sons could have been up to 100 years old; however, if this followed soon after the
flood, then Cush, Egypt, Phut and Canaan would still be babies.
GOD: We will accept your interpretation as being reasonable for your purposes.
TERRY: Next a slightly less trivial problem: In Genesis 6:9 and possibly 2 Peter 2:5, Noah is described as a righteous man. However, in the above story he doesn’t seem to be very righteous.
GOD: Of course he was righteous. If you went through a universal flood as he did you would have lost faith in us entirely.
TERRY: OK, going deeper we are left pondering exactly what it was that Ham did that was so wrong. The wasp Bibles have Leviticus 18:7 telling us that ‘we are not to uncover the nakedness of our fathers’. But Ham did not uncover his father. Stern’s Jewish version is more typically explicit and renders the phrase “You are not to have sexual relations with your father …” There is no suggestion that Ham did this either.
GOD: So what do you think is the point of the story?
TERRY: I suppose the point is that Ham did not honour or respect his father. Of course the Ten Commandments hadn’t been given then, but natural law requires respect for one’s parents.
GOD: Good work your exposition is going well. What further difficulties occur in this text?
TERRY: When Noah awoke, he knew what had happened and inexplicably blamed or cursed his grandson Canaan. Canaan could have in no way offended his grandfather!
GOD: Good point, what do you think happened here?
TERRY: I think that when this story was finally written out, about a thousand years later it was edited (redacted) to defame the Canaanites who had become the traditional enemies of the Jews. This explanation is not accepted by the inerrantists.
GOD: Yes we discussed this proscription of the Canaanites three interviews back. Your explanation is quite reasonable.
TERRY: We are still left with another deep question. And this is: If a righteous person curses someone, will you back up the curse and see that is applied?
GOD: Of course not, this is an inversion of the Cosmic Santa Clause theory that we have asked you to discard.
TERRY: Although the Canaanites were constantly defamed there is no clear biblical evidence that they were descended from Canaan, nor were they ever slaves to others, or wiped out by the Israelites who were supposed to be their masters. Whether you are an inerrantist or use an allegorical interpretation, the actual content of the bible should not be in dispute. The question of: whether or not stories really happened? should not arise. These days some people seem to think that scientific veracity is an extra requirement for believing. Ultimately faith cannot have a scientific basis!
GOD: What you say is quite true. But you still have a problem with the story, don’t you?
TERRY: Well the story of Noah and his curse then descends into a scurrilous tale, claiming that the original Canaanites were dark skinned (unlike the later ones) and therefore the curse of Noah justifies all dark skinned people being enslaved by Europeans and Asiatics. These details are worse than tripe, they are simply garbage; completely unsubstantiated by any interpretation of the biblical text. If you want a summary of these satanic lies just Google “Curse of Ham”, the Wikipedia discussion seems fairly complete and reliable.
GOD: Yes, yes; but we don’t need to consult Wikipedia, we already know more about the story than mortals ever will.
Why does all this upset you so much?
TERRY: In 2004, I went to and indigenous Christian tent meeting where an indigenous Australian pastor told me in all seriousness that his people suffered so much during the European occupation of Australia; because of ‘the curse on Ham’. I could not believe that this non-biblical foolishness could be so easily transmitted or believed.
This why I agree with Katharin; some interpretations of the bible are pure tripe and must be consistently opposed no matter how authoritative the source.