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Old 02-07-2009, 11:36 AM   #571
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Originally Posted by pdurrant View Post
I'm puzzled why so many people want to read this passage other than as the plain meaning, that without the grace of God, a rich man (or any man) has as much chance of gaining heaven as a camel has of getting through the eye of a needle.
The issue is whether, in context at the time, that meant "something downright impossible"--i.e. actual camel, needle used to make clothes, in which case, any rich man who wants to go to heaven must eliminate his wealth, or whether it means "something very difficult, which would be much easier if you got rid of the extra bulk"--either a very thick thread & a needle, OR a camel and a narrow passageway, in which case, the wealthy man needs to mind his possessions and make sure they do not overwhelm his morality.

Blithely accepting that it means real camel, real needle, means trusting the accuracy of the translators... in the KJV, that's the ones who put unicorns in seven verses.

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Pah, I reckon I could do it!

Wiry strands are easier to thread than floppy ones; even if they are a bit on the thick side.

Has anyone here any practical experience how difficult it is?
Camel hair literally? No. But I've had plenty of practice with threads too big for the needle involved. It doesn't matter that it's easier to thread wiry strands than floppy ones when both are larger than the eye.
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Old 02-07-2009, 11:39 AM   #572
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Now this thread gets interesting. I love translation debates
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Old 02-07-2009, 11:40 AM   #573
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The issue is whether, in context at the time, that meant "something downright impossible"--i.e. actual camel, needle used to make clothes, in which case, any rich man who wants to go to heaven must eliminate his wealth, or whether it means "something very difficult, which would be much easier if you got rid of the extra bulk"--either a very thick thread & a needle, OR a camel and a narrow passageway, in which case, the wealthy man needs to mind his possessions and make sure they do not overwhelm his morality.
Yes, that was my thinking too, Elfwreck; it makes a considerable difference to what's being said depending on whether it means something impossible, or something possible, but rather difficult.
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Old 02-07-2009, 11:41 AM   #574
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This story dates from the 9th century, and seems to be a complete invention. In the three gospels that mention the saying, Matthew and Mark use the word for sewing needle, but Luke uses the word for a surgeon's needle.

http://www.bteministries.org/node/160

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Just in case you don't know, the "eye of the needle" is a small and narrow wall porticulus (mainly meant for people enter or exit a fortified city). Transport animals had to use the gates to pass.

I don't know if a camel could walk through that door, but it would be difficult and probably would have to be stripped from their baggage.
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Old 02-07-2009, 11:46 AM   #575
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I'm not judging it on the KJV translation. Admittedly, neither have I taken a year or two to learn Greek and personally examined the earliest extant manuscripts.

What I have done it read lots of explanations and opinions, including several annotated word-by-word translations, and comparisons with other phrases in the Bible and other old texts.

I don't see any other way to read it.

But I also realise I've been taking things far too seriously, and spending far too much time on this. Feel free to interpret it as you wish.

http://xkcd.com/386/

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Originally Posted by Elfwreck View Post
Blithely accepting that it means real camel, real needle, means trusting the accuracy of the translators... in the KJV, that's the ones who put unicorns in seven verses.
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Old 02-07-2009, 11:49 AM   #576
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Wasn't it Archimedes who said something to the effect, "Give me a lever long enough ... and I'll put a camel through the eye of a needle."?
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Old 02-07-2009, 11:50 AM   #577
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I'm not judging it on the KJV translation. Admittedly, neither have I taken a year or two to learn Greek and personally examined the earliest extant manuscripts.
I do read Koine (NT) Greek quite well, so I can read the original.
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Old 02-07-2009, 11:51 AM   #578
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I do read Koine (NT) Greek quite well, so I can read the original.
You would like the article on the mass of crap that was the Jesus Tomb story. Lemme see if I can find it...

edit * finally, i think this is it:
http://www.sbl-site.org/assets/pdfs/Pfann.pdf

I really hate that Naked Archaeologist fellow. I'm an athiest, but I would NEVER blatantly twist facts to get people to doubt their faith.

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Old 02-07-2009, 12:08 PM   #579
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I would have thought that was because they are not reading in "or any man" and is reading it so that it is impossible to get in if you are rich if you interpret it as a real camel. So to motivate why they do not give away all their money they have to find an explanation.
That's sort of the way that the disciples interpreted the remark at first.

Remember that wealth was perceived at the time as a mark of righteousness and God's favor. It's important to following the discussion -- here's the relevant part of the exchange:
Quote:
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?”

But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:23-26)
I think the discussion pretty directly supports the idea that Jesus was drawing an analogy with something that was considered impossible, and pointing out that God's resources make "impossibility" rather something else again.



One of the things that makes understanding what the Bible says about various things difficult is that a lot of folks leave God out of it when they read it.

What I mean by that is that the things written there are predicated upon the existence of an all-powerful, supernatural being. If the reader cannot or will not -- at least for the sake of understanding what's being said -- read the words with that subtext in mind, they'll never understand a lot of what it says.

Consider this statement for example: “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” If you consider that it was said with the existence of God as a sub-text (you don't have to believe it to consider that), it's a simple statement that's no trouble at all to follow. However, if you insist on parsing it with a "there is no God" perspective, it's just gibberish, and you'll never be able to even follow what it says.

This is a pretty obvious one, and very few folks would try to read it that latter way, but they'll do exactly that without even batting an eye on the more obscure parts.

The Bible is just like any other book in that sense: you have to consider it on its own terms to follow what it says. That is not the same thing as accepting it as true. I very much enjoy Anne McCaffrey's books (not so much Todd's, I regret to say) -- but I don't really believe that there's a planet out there in the Sagittarius sector which will one day be dubbed "Pern."

I'm not suggesting that anyone simply accept that there is a God and get in line, have some cool-aid, and be happy. I'm only pointing out that if you consider the Bible within the terms in which it was written, a lot of the apparent illogic and contradiction disappears.

In this case, I guess what I'm talking about would fall somewhere between suspension of disbelief and suspension of judgment.
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Old 02-07-2009, 12:14 PM   #580
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The Bible is just like any other book in that sense: you have to consider it on its own terms to follow what it says. That is not the same thing as accepting it as true.
That's an extremely good point, Nat! What you've just said has made me reconsider the "camel" story. In the light of your explanation I think that it most likely does mean - literally - a camel.

Thank you for "shedding light" on it for us.
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Old 02-07-2009, 12:36 PM   #581
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Ha! "Shedding light." Hee-hee-snort!
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Old 02-07-2009, 12:40 PM   #582
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No pun intended .
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Old 02-07-2009, 12:42 PM   #583
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Old 02-07-2009, 02:42 PM   #584
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... I really hate that Naked Archaeologist fellow. I'm an athiest, but I would NEVER blatantly twist facts to get people to doubt their faith.
Heh, I suppose it's usually the other way around, where facts are twisted to instill religious faith

I haven't actually seen any of the Naked Archeologist episodes, but am certainly aware of the Jesus Tomb controversy. It is worth pointing out, that the Christian forums abound with accusations that he "twists facts" because he is an Orthodox Jew, which, if indeed the case (and it's just as likely to be ratings,) would simply be another example of the inherent in any religion "my god is the only true one, and yours is a myth" maxima.

But doubting "faith" actually may cause people to think, which is often a good thing. Particularly in a country, where 53% of the population would automatically vote against an atheist for a President, without thinking: http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/arc...n_or_atheist_/

P.S. Hey, this post bumped me up to the level of "Zealot"

Last edited by Sonist; 02-07-2009 at 02:55 PM.
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Old 02-07-2009, 02:55 PM   #585
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Heh, I suppose it's usually the other way around, where facts are twisted to instill religious faith

I haven't actually seen any of the Naked Archeologist episodes, but am certainly aware of the Jesus Tomb controversy. It is worth pointing out, that the Christian forums abound with accusations that he "twists facts" because he is an Orthodox Jew, which, if indeed the case (and it's just as likely to be ratings,) would simply be another example of the inherent in any religion "my god is the only true one, and yours is a myth" maxima.

But doubting "faith" actually may cause people to think, which is often a good thing. Particularly in a country, where 53% of the population would automatically vote against an atheist for a President, without thinking: http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/arc...n_or_atheist_/
I kind of hate to agree with the majority of Christian forums, but I agree with them on this (that he twists the facts because he is an orthodox jew). If you watch his stuff and know the facts, it is very difficult not to come to that conclusion.

I want people to think, but I really don't want people to question their religion because of horribly misconstrued facts. It makes me sick. And I'm not even talking about the immense disservice he is doing to archaeology as a whole.
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