Friday, September 14, 2007

As promised, prophecies

I've read some of the Old Testament prophets in full and I'm sure I've encountered all of their juciest bits somewhere between church and my own readings. Judaism holds that the prophets foretold of the Messiah, who will come restore the temple in Jerusalem, restore God's chosen people to their seat of glory, and bring about God's will on Earth. Both Christianity and Islam believe that Jesus was the Messiah, whereas Judaism obviously insists that Jesus did not fulfill the messianic prophecies. Islam goes one step farther and believes that the Old Testament prophets fortell of Muhammad, as well (see here.)

Usually, when I read these passages, I don't pick up on anything too intensely prophetic. There are a few places like Isaiah 53 that definitely remind me of Jesus' life. However, usually, the prophetic portions of the Bible read just like the rest. If I read them with my study Bible, I see and understand how everything applies to Jesus and explains the Trinity and supports Christianity. When I read it from sources such as the first link above, I see that the Bible is obviously talking about Muhammad and Judaism and Christianity have both been twisting God's word for centuries. However, when I read them alone, I get that God is great and is worthy of our praise and that we are weak and full of faults but if I were reading the Old Testament without any other background, I don't think I'd flag any parts as prophecies.

It's also very possible that my uninsightful Bible interpretations are just a result of my own academic shortcomings. I've always been very skewed towards the maths and sciences and weaker in the liberal arts. I love reading but apparently I'm a very superficial reader, seeing only the explicitly stated and overlooking any deeper meaning.

Life (from the religious search for truth perspective) would really be so much easier if I had original, untampered sources for all the religious texts. I'm pretty accepting of the Qu'ran's veracity just because of its relative modernity and the intense tradition of memorization from the very beginnings of Islam. However, Christianity's and Judaism's texts are collections from various authors over various periods of time and their history of oral tradition provides plenty of oportunity for modification, whether intentional or not.

I'll finish by returning to a theme from my very first post. Religion is supposed to give peace. Sometimes it definitely does that. Sometimes when I'm experiencing God's wonderful creation and beauty, I'm very grateful and praising. However, whenever I remember my current confusion, religion just depresses me. I don't feel like God has abandoned me but I feel like I suddenly don't know Him anymore. I guess that's to be expected since I'm questioning my fundamental beliefs about God; I guess on some level, I don't know Him. Hopefully I'll find Him again and I'll regain that confidence and certainty of my beliefs, thereby regaining my peace and shaking this religious depression.

By the way, if you're Muslim, Happy Ramadan, if you're Jewish, Happy Rosh Hashanah, and if you're Christian, Happy mid-September!

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