August 17, 2010

Comparative Religion: A Quiz

Following are forty passages excerpted from four holy books. One is the Torah and canonical prophets of the Hebrew tradition, what Christians call the "Old Testament." One is the collected Christian Gospels and epistles of Paul the Apostle, what Christians call the "New Testament." One is the Koran, Qu'ran, or however you want to spell it in the Latin alphabet, the holy book of Islam. And the last is the Book of Mormon.

Your challenge is to correctly guess the source of as many of the passages as possible, without using any reference like a Google search, from which holy book each passage comes. Obviously, if you use a reference you'll do very well, and I can't stop you.  So you're on the honor system here.

I have changed references to "The LORD," "the Father," and "Allah" to "God;" references to particular persons who are not themselves divinities with a generic "[prophet]", and all references to "infidels" and "Gentiles" to be "unbelievers." I have also updated archaic conjugations ("ye shall know them by their fruits") with modern phrasing.  Otherwise, the quotes are as they appear in at least readily-available version of the text in question.

Holy Text
Old Testament
New Testament
  Koran  
Book of Mormon
1. For six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the day of rest, holy to God; He who does any work on this day shall surely be put to death.        
2. You have also heard me when I have been cast out and have been despised by my enemies; yes, you heard my cries, and was angry with my enemies, and you visited them in your anger with speedy destruction.       
3. Who does a greater wrong than he who invents a lie concerning God and denies His revelations?       
4. If a man find a virgin girl, not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; then the man that lay with her shall give unto the girl’s father fifty coins of silver, and she shall be his wife.     
5. [God] teaches my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by my arms.     
6. Almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.       
7. And [prophet] said unto the people, “You cannot serve God: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.”       
8. And it shall come to pass, says [God], that the sword of my justice shall hang over them at that day; and except they repent it shall fall upon them, says [God], yes, even upon all the nations of the [unfaithful].       
9. Must you lust after men instead of women? No, but you are folk who act senselessly.       
10. And the husbands and fathers of those women and children they have slain; and they feed the women upon the flesh of their husbands, and the children upon the flesh of their fathers; and no water, save a little, do they give unto them.       
11. All that ever came before me [God] are thieves and robbers.       
12. As for they who do not believe, whether you warn them or warn them not it is all one for them; they believe not. God has sealed their hearing and their hearts, and on their eyes there is a covering. Theirs will be an awful doom.       
13. …[O]f the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall you buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession. And you shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your slaves for ever       
14. Choose not disbelievers for friends in place of believers. Would you give God a clear warrant against you?       
15. For he gave commandment that all men must repent; for he showed unto all men that they were lost, because of the transgression of their parents.       
16. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart.       
17. You shall be among them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, and as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he goes through both treads down and tears in pieces.       
18. He that believeth not shall be damned.       
19. He who doubts is damned, for whatever is not of faith is sin.       
20. I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear comes.       
21. I am come to set a man against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.       
22. I will feed them that oppress thee, with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood as with sweet wine; and all flesh shall know that I am [God].       
23. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.       
24. It is not lawful for you forcibly to inherit your brother’s women, nor put constraint upon them that you may take away a part of that which you have given them, unless they be guilty of flagrant lewdness.       
25. He who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.       
26. One who attacks you, attack him in like manner as he has attacked you.       
27. Slaves, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto God.       
28. Slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captive, and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush.       
29. The fathers shall eat the sons in the midst of thee, and the sons shall eat their fathers.       
30. The show of their countenance doth witness against them, and doth declare their sin to be even as Sodom, and they cannot hide it. Woe unto their souls, for they have rewarded evil unto themselves!       
31. The young and the old lie on the ground in the streets: my virgins and my young men are fallen by the sword; thou hast slain them in the day of thine anger; thou hast killed, and not pitied.       
32. Men are in charge of women, because God had made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property. So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which God has guarded.       
33. …[E]ven their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, … they who commit such things are worthy of death.       
34. They shall die of grievous deaths; they shall not be lamented; neither shall they be buried; but they shall be as dung upon the face of the earth: and they shall be consumed by the sword, and by famine; and their carcases shall be meat for the fowls of heaven, and for the beasts of the earth.       
35. They that believe not in him shall be destroyed, both by fire, and by tempest, and by earthquakes, and by bloodsheds, and by pestilence, and by famine.       
36. We shall cast terror into the hearts of those who do not believe.       
37. Whomsoever of the [unbelievers] that would not enter into a covenant to support the cause of freedom, that they might maintain a free government, he caused to be put to death.       
38. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed. For he that bids him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.       
39. God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned        
40. A prophet shall God raise up unto you, like unto me; you shall hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass that all those who will not hear that prophet shall be cut off from among the people.       

For extra credit, you must correctly identify both holy texts in which this passage appears, word for word:
Every one that is proud shall be thrust through; yea, and every one that is joined to the wicked shall fall by the sword. Their children, also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled and their wives ravished. Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver and gold, nor shall they delight in it. Their bows shall also dash the young men to pieces, and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eyes shall not spare children
If all of these passages seem more than a little weird and morally objectionable, well, there's a reason for that:  every word of it, regardless of the source, is superstitious nonsense, the bulk of it based on the culture of the barbaric Bronze Age Middle East.  If you do believe in a God, give thanks to Her that you live in a culture and an era that doesn't actually takes this stuff very seriously.

The answer key, with citations, will be posted in the comments on Saturday.

16 comments:

Mike said...

Ah, the famous "waah misdirect" dodge.

The question is not to cherry-pick quotations out of context, especially quotations from early in certain holy books that are very much put in their place as historical relics by later books.

The question is to examine, as a whole, the religions in question. For the verses you are cherry-picking in order to attack Judaism and Christianity, you neglect to examine whether or not they are superceded by later, peaceful verses.

By contrast, of the 114 chapters of the Koran, only 43 exist which are unscathed by the doctrine of al-nasikh and al-mansukh, and among them are the most bloodthirsty - Sura 9 and 5 are second-last and last, chronologically speaking.

And Sura 5 contains the verse "O Believers! take not the Jews or Christians as friends. They are but one another’s friends. If any one of you taketh them for his friends, he surely is one of them! God will not guide the evil doers."

I see no need to participate in your dishonest little exercise in misdirection any further.

Transplanted Lawyer said...

Mike, you're welcome to read and comment here all you like as long as you keep things civil. But I have to question why you keep coming back because you never seem to find anything here you like. Do you suffer from chronically low blood pressure or something?

Mike said...

If all you want is a dishonest little echo chamber, TL, then say so plainly.

I'm an atheist, but I find incredibly disgusting the behavior of those who, presented seriously with the things wrong with Islamic religious doctrine, political doctrine, and law, have a knee-jerk reaction to attack other religions simply because they know Islam is plainly indefensible.

I am reminded of the phrase "yeah but YOUR MOTHER", and that's essentially the dishonest level you have stooped to here.

Transplanted Lawyer said...

Once again, disagreement and debate are welcome and indeed solicited, as long as the tone is civil and respectful.

I have no objection to the substantive content of your commentary, even on those occasions when I disagree with you. You sometimes have meaningful and important things to add to a discussion and those facets of your commentary are welcomed.

Your tone, however, approaches and periodically exceeds the limits of civil discourse. Please try and keep your temper in check when you make your points, and in exchange I will extend you the same courtesy.

Mike said...

I still say that the entire premise of the little exercise you put forth above is fundamentally flawed.

mythago said...

Why? Because we look at the chronologically last portion of a religion's scriptures and disregard everything prior? What do we do about Christians who cite the Old Testament as spiritual authority, even when it contradicts the New Testament? Do we pretend that Jews are the only ones who have debate and theological discussion about the actual meaning of their holy texts, rather than mindlessly taking every word as a literal instructions.

You should probably read your own link, too:

It should be premised that their order as it stands in all Arabic manuscripts, and in all hitherto printed editions, whether Arabic or European, is not chronological, neither is there any authentic tradition to show that it rests upon the authority of Muhammad himself.

A Teacher said...

As a Catholic let me weigh in a little bit, and say, with a smile, "Mike, ligthen up."

Overall, I think that the majority of decent intelligent people know that what is written into the "code" of a religion is often conflicting, confusing and open to vast interpretation. This is true of Judism, Christianity and Islam.

The most important thing, always, is to look at what is ~done~ with those words and writings as well as the context they were put down in. In addition how a religion ~uses~ that context is also essential.

For example, the various commandments of Moses' piece of the bible (the top 10 plus a ton of runners up) were written as rules both to be God's followers but also to keep the Isrealites alive in the desert. THis is going to cause some lean to them and create some situations where "God's Plan" may have needed people to behave one way at the time but might not now that we are not a band of nomads on the Sinai Peninsula.

Take the admonishments on homosexuality. At the time, having guys boinking guys was pretty counterproductive given that they had an entire race that was in desperate need of repopulation. Taking those words out of that context creates problems with applications.

The true test of any belief system always always will be on it's deeds in the name of that faith. And to be honest I've seen asshats from all walks: Jew, Christian, Muslim and Athiest.

Transplanted Lawyer said...

From the Koran:

“Men are in charge of women, because God had made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property. So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which God has guarded.” Sura 4:34

“It is not lawful for you forcibly to inherit the women (of your deceased kinsmen), nor (that) ye should put constraint upon them that ye may take away a part of that which ye have given them, unless they be guilty of flagrant lewdness.” Sura 4:19

“One who attacks you, attack him in like manner as he has attacked you.” Sura 2:194

“Slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captive, and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush.” Sura 9:5

“We shall cast terror into the hearts of those who do not believe.” Sura 3:151

“As for they who do not believe, whether you warn them or warn them not it is all one for them; they believe not. God has sealed their hearing and their hearts, and on their eyes there is a covering. Theirs will be an awful doom.” Sura 2:6-7

“Who doeth greater wrong than he who invents a lie concerning God and denies His revelations?” Sura 10:17

“Must you lust after men instead of women? No, but you are folk who act senselessly.” Sura 27:55

“Choose not disbelievers for friends in place of believers. Would you give God a clear warrant against you?” Sura 4:144

Transplanted Lawyer said...

From the Old Testament:

"Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall you buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession. And you shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever." Leviticus 25:45-46

"For six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the day of rest, holy to God; He who does any work on this day shall surely be put to death." Exodus 31:15

“If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty coins of silver, and she shall be his wife." Duteronomy 22:28-29

“[God] teaches my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is browkn by my arms.” Pslams 18:34

“And [Joshua] said unto the people, Ye cannot serve God: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.” Joshua 24:15

"He who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death." Exodus 21:17, Leviticus 20:9.

“They shall die of grievous deaths; they shall not be lamented; neither shall they be buried; but they shall be as dung upon the face of the earth: and they shall be consumed by the sword, and by famine; and their carcases shall be meat for the fowls of heaven, and for the beasts of the earth.” Jeremiah 16:4

“The fathers shall eat the sons in the midst of thee, and the sons shall eat their fathers.” Ezekiel 5:10

“The young and the old lie on the ground in the streets: my virgins and my young men are fallen by the sword; thou hast slain them in the day of thine anger; thou hast killed, and not pitied.” Lamentations 2:21

“I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear comes.” Proverbs 1:26

Transplanted Lawyer said...

From the New Testament:

“If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” John 15:6

“Slaves, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto God.” Ephesians 6:5

“For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, … they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them.” Romans 1:26-32.

“He that believeth not shall be damned.” Mark 16:16

“He who doubts is damned, for whatever is not of faith is sin.” Romans 14:23

“If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed. For he that bids him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” 2 John 1:10

“I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.” Matthew 10:35-36

“God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned.” 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12

“Almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.” Hebrews 9:22

“All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers.” John 10:8

“For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart.” 1 Corinthians 7:14-15

Transplanted Lawyer said...

Book of Mormon:

“You have also heard me when I have been cast out and have been despised by my enemies; yes, you heard my cries, and was angry with my enemies, and you visited them in your anger with speedy destruction.” Alma 33:10

“A prophet shall God raise up unto you, like unto me; you shall hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass that all those who will not hear that prophet shall be cut off from among the people.” 1 Nephi 22:20

“And it shall come to pass, says the Father, that the sword of my justice shall hang over them at that day; and except they repent it shall fall upon them, says the Father, yea, even upon all the nations of the Gentiles.” 3 Nephi 20:20

“And the husbands and fathers of those women and children they have slain; and they feed the women upon the flesh of their husbands, and the children upon the flesh of their fathers; and no water, save a little, do they give unto them.” 9 Moroni 8

“For he gave commandment that all men must repent; for he showed unto all men that they were lost, because of the transgression of their parents.” 2 Nephi 2:21

“Ye shall be among them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, and as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he goes through both treads down and tears in pieces.” 3 Nephi 20:16

“I will feed them that oppress thee, with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood as with sweet wine; and all flesh shall know that I [am God].” 2 Nephi 6:18

“The show of their countenance doth witness against them, and doth declare their sin to be even as Sodom, and they cannot hide it. Woe unto their souls, for they have rewarded evil unto themselves!” 2 Nephi 13:9

“They that believe not in him shall be destroyed, both by fire, and by tempest, and by earthquakes, and by bloodsheds, and by pestilence, and by famine.” 2 Nephi 6:15

“Whomsoever of the [unbelievers] that would not enter into a covenant to support the cause of freedom, that they might maintain a free government, he caused to be put to death.” Alma 46:35

Transplanted Lawyer said...

Book of Mormon:
“You have also heard me when I have been cast out and have been despised by my enemies; yes, you heard my cries, and was angry with my enemies, and you visited them in your anger with speedy destruction.” Alma 33:10
“A prophet shall God raise up unto you, like unto me; you shall hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass that all those who will not hear that prophet shall be cut off from among the people.” 1 Nephi 22:20
“And it shall come to pass, says the Father, that the sword of my justice shall hang over them at that day; and except they repent it shall fall upon them, says the Father, yea, even upon all the nations of the Gentiles.” 3 Nephi 20:20
“And the husbands and fathers of those women and children they have slain; and they feed the women upon the flesh of their husbands, and the children upon the flesh of their fathers; and no water, save a little, do they give unto them.” 9 Moroni 8
“For he gave commandment that all men must repent; for he showed unto all men that they were lost, because of the transgression of their parents.” 2 Nephi 2:21
“Ye shall be among them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, and as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he goes through both treads down and tears in pieces.” 3 Nephi 20:16
“I will feed them that oppress thee, with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood as with sweet wine; and all flesh shall know that I [am God].” 2 Nephi 6:18
“The show of their countenance doth witness against them, and doth declare their sin to be even as Sodom, and they cannot hide it. Woe unto their souls, for they have rewarded evil unto themselves!” 2 Nephi 13:9
“They that believe not in him shall be destroyed, both by fire, and by tempest, and by earthquakes, and by bloodsheds, and by pestilence, and by famine.” 2 Nephi 6:15
“Whomsoever of the Gentile that would not enter into a covenant to support the cause of freedom, that they might maintain a free government, he caused to be put to death.” Alma 46:35

Transplanted Lawyer said...

Book of Mormon (1):
“You have also heard me when I have been cast out and have been despised by my enemies; yes, you heard my cries, and was angry with my enemies, and you visited them in your anger with speedy destruction.” Alma 33:10
“A prophet shall God raise up unto you, like unto me; you shall hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass that all those who will not hear that prophet shall be cut off from among the people.” 1 Nephi 22:20
“And it shall come to pass, says the Father, that the sword of my justice shall hang over them at that day; and except they repent it shall fall upon them, says the Father, yea, even upon all the nations of the Gentiles.” 3 Nephi 20:20
“And the husbands and fathers of those women and children they have slain; and they feed the women upon the flesh of their husbands, and the children upon the flesh of their fathers; and no water, save a little, do they give unto them.” 9 Moroni 8

Transplanted Lawyer said...

Book of Mormon (2):
“For he gave commandment that all men must repent; for he showed unto all men that they were lost, because of the transgression of their parents.” 2 Nephi 2:21
“Ye shall be among them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, and as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he goes through both treads down and tears in pieces.” 3 Nephi 20:16
“I will feed them that oppress thee, with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood as with sweet wine; and all flesh shall know that I [am God].” 2 Nephi 6:18
“The show of their countenance doth witness against them, and doth declare their sin to be even as Sodom, and they cannot hide it. Woe unto their souls, for they have rewarded evil unto themselves!” 2 Nephi 13:9
“They that believe not in him shall be destroyed, both by fire, and by tempest, and by earthquakes, and by bloodsheds, and by pestilence, and by famine.” 2 Nephi 6:15
“Whomsoever of the Gentile that would not enter into a covenant to support the cause of freedom, that they might maintain a free government, he caused to be put to death.” Alma 46:35

A Teacher said...

And interesting collection and a little surprising to me, actually. I thought that some of the more violent were indeed tracked to the old testiment rather than the Qaran.

What's also interesting is that within the New Testement, the contrast of Jesus's words (those in the Gospels of Matthew Mark Luke and John) and those of his apostles (the various other books being collections of letters written to people about Jesus' teachings).

Transplanted Lawyer said...

Teacher, I find most of Jesus' teachings to be morally commendable. Perhaps that's because I grew up in a culture molded in part by those teachings. There are morally commendable parts of the Koran, of the OT, and the Mormon books, too. I like the bits about not killing, not stealing, and not lying particularly well, and they are found in all the texts.

Isn't it interesting that all of these religious texts contain commands to exclusivity? Each holy book instructs its readers that this is the one true faith, and those who do not subscribe to it are inferior and to be shunned. At least three of them are incorrect and there is no objective way to decide if one of them is somehow different.

Second, I was not really aware of how much violence there was in the Book of Mormon, particularly in Second Nephi. Just awful to read. It puts some of the unfortunate early history of the LDS church in context.

For me, the lesson is that when someone wants to do something morally indefensible -- to murder, to rape, to lie -- any handy holy text can provide a gloss to that behavior. This does not (in my mind) mean that an adherent to a religion is a violent, deceitful, or otherwise morally unworthy person. It means to me that if you are a basically bad person who does bad things, religion may be a way to cloak yourself in a mantle of respectability. So I would judge a person by her actions, not by the label she attached to herself.