Jesus, the hate-monger? 

(originally written 1994)


GK writes:

I thought I had posed some pretty good conundrums among the many scores of postings that I use to reveal and highlight the absurdities and obscenities contained within the Bible.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, would you mind sending me all these 'absurdities and obscenities'--either privately to Glenn Miller, livewire or on the conference? Thanks.

Now why should I doubt that your collection of conundrums are superior to mine. I'll accept your claim at face value. I have no reason to suspect that you're anything but an honorable and truthful person. But you see Gohst, there might be others out there that might demand some more objective evidence for your claims and criticisms.

No comment!

So, on the matter of my "...specious examples." of conundrums, perhaps you'll explain for all of us how the following Bible passage fits into the 'Christian' scheme of things: "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple."(Luke 14:26). And please keep in mind that the Greek word 'miseo' translated 'hate', means 'detest' and 'despise'.

Several points:

  1. When you say 'miseo' means 'hate', it is important to realize that language is just not that simple. When I say "Compared to Lime Sherbet, I hate vanilla", most readers will not know how I will respond to the question "would you like a scoop of vanilla" on a hot day. In this example, hate does not have the intensity or extension range that would be present in "I hate crimes against the elderly." In other words, usage and context ALWAYS play a critical element in understanding that a word means IN A SPECIFIC CASE. And all honest attempts to understand a text-biblical, political, scientific, philosophical--must begin with this understanding of the richness and flexibility of natural language. All attempts to 'force' a word into a narrow range of meaning are subject to the possibility of error.

  3. In this case, we have three data points that help us determine the range/intensity of the word miseo:

    1. Semitic usage patterns of love/hate in bipolar contexts;
    2. The Semitic mind of OT/NT would state relative comparisons as absolutes, and this would even show up in the same passage. Cf. Genesis 29.30-31:
      "Jacob lay with Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah (mem proposition)...When the LORD saw that Lead was not loved (lit. hated)"
      This text shows that "hated" could mean IN CERTAIN CONTEXTS "love less than"... (You also have a similar use of hate in Deut 21.15-17 wherein one wife is preferred over another and the word 'hate' is used of the 'less preferred'. In other words, the Semite reader would not make the harsh and rigid conclusions that one from a western culture might.
    3. Semitic range of miseo
    4. We have extra-biblical data that argues that while miseo to Greeks has a more narrow word content, to Semites using miseo, the range was considerably wider, including the sense of 'leaving aside', 'renunciation', or 'abandonment' (cf. F.F. Bruce, The Hard Sayings of Jesus, Downers Grove: IVP, 1983, p.592.)
    5. the parallel passage in Matthew 10:37 using paraphrase
    6. The parallel account of this message is given in Matthew 10.37:
      "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me."
      When Matthew paraphrases the words of Jesus in this passage, he makes sure that the range and intent of the utterance in seen in its SEMITIC LIGHT. In other words, he preserves less of the ambiguity of the original saying of Jesus in order to make sure that the correct nuance is made explicit. In so doing, he shows us the Semitic idea of 'lower preference' seems to be the correct meaning behind miseo in this passage.
  5. One final word on approaching this passage, GK. This is now the third one of your posts I have examined carefully, and I have noticed a recurring mistake in your treatment of the texts. You seem to be trying to force the text into a 'western world' framework or some kind of rigid linguistic system. The language and content of the bible is much, much richer and more powerful (like most classics) than one-dimensional approaches allow. The book must be allowed to provoke honest interaction, not just assumption and conclusion. We must submit our interpretations to it for 'dialogue' (like we have to do with the works of Shakespeare or Hume or Kant). To merely say, "this verse is a contradiction" without going through the possible answers honestly, borders on slander or misrepresentation. I encourage you to use the background you have to anticipate the first round or two of the opposing views. It will make your case much better, and your credibility more apparent. For each of the 'standard problems' raised, there are typically 5-10 different solutions. The challenge for us is often 'which one makes the best sense?' and/or 'which one can I hold before my God of truth and say I believe this one'. You could probably bypass some of the "solved-a-hundred-times-before" passages you have been advancing (e.g. the above and the Peter/Rooster one) and get on to the really juicy ones!
The above Jesus Christ quotation can be numbered among many scores wherein he preaches a message of hatred. But let's us start with just this one, O.K. How do these quotes square with the supposed message of 'love' that Bible devotees promote?

I have worked through the bible scores of times in the short 20+ years since I became a believer n college, but I cannot remember offhand the 'scores' of quotations by Jesus Christ 'wherein he preaches a message of hatred.' Would love to see a list of these, and would be happy to share my analysis of them with you and the conference. Thanks...glenn miller.

GK writes:

G.Miller-Hateful Jesus !

Hate your Family and your life ("If any man come to me, and HATE not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple."(Luke 14:26). Glenn Miller,

Well, you've been sending me over-much verbiage which changes nothing. The above (Subject) passage is in the best tradition of Jesus' philosophy revealed further in "...he that HATETH his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal."(John 12:25----The Greek word 'miseo' translated 'hateth' means 'detest', 'despise', and 'abhor'). Jesus is enamored of the word 'miseo', using it 35 times throughout his various harangues.

So far, so good. Nothing for me to bark at here, except maybe your choice of the word 'harangues' (remember, you're the guy who merely says what the bible SAYs) or your word count...I get only 28 times (using only Greek, which gives 29 in the gospels and backing out Zechariah's prophesy in Luke 1.71)...

I can understand that Jesus' philosophy of HATE makes you uncomfortable and willing to grasp at any straw to provide a opposing rationale ( i.e., enter the deceptive art of 'apologetics').

Couple of points here:

  1. If Jesus did have a serious philosophy of literal 'hate' I probably would be in quandary; however, the data is too clear and too widely accepted (by friends and foes alike) that Jesus' message was one of radical and transforming love--his clearest passage on this might be Matthew 5.43: "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you"
  2. I find it interesting that Jesus never uses the imperative mood of command on a single occasion of 'hate'--the vast majority of uses describe the reality that his followers will be hated by others, just as Jesus was/is hated in the world.
  3. I noticed that you did not answer my main argument at all. The literary data about 'hate' being used as 'loving less than' you chose to ignore. (Why don't you also dig into the redaction criticism study by Robert H. Stein in Forum/5, 1989--he brings out this data quite clearly)...
  4. A bit oblique: why do you consistently refer to apologetics as 'deceptive'? Are you assuming that apologists know better? I really don't understand your position on this...I understand your 'lame' phrase, but not the 'deceptive' one.
You yourself admit that your quest for understanding is limited to "...which one makes the best sense.", that you can "...hold before your God...". By biasing your quest from the start, your conclusions should come as no surprise. But they are wrong, Glenn.

Perhaps I was unclear. I ASSUME that you also quest for interpretations that 'make the best sense' (I would hope so!) and that you 'can hold up to YOUR standard of truth (God or non-God)'...The fact that I have had a relationship with God for some 20+ years now provides me personally with some very resistant-to-reinterpretation data, and could affect my exegesis at some macro-level, I suppose. But in all the cases which I have seen from you so far, none have the criticality that would prove/disprove:

There are so many themes in scripture that I do not understand, and so many rich motifs that I am not able to weave together (probably a limitation of myself), that to come up with another 'problem passage' only amounts to something else in the backlog. In this arena, my science background shows itself. From the perspective of the philosophy of science, scientific communities organize data around paradigms which function as explanatory and interpretive grids. Data that fits reinforces the theory; data that doesn't accumulates as 'problems'. In the history of science (and most other disciples of thought), when enough problems accumulate to overthrow the positive 'witness' of the confirming data points, an unrest in the community sets in...someone then comes up with a better paradigm which integrates 'more data' (no system ever answers ALL the questions to everyones' satisfaction). The system that I 'have' so far does the BEST job (not perfect job!) of integrating the intellectual data that I have, as well as the existential (loosely speaking) aspects of my life, job, family, etc.

So, when I interact with you about specific passages or word usage or whatever, it simply forces my honesty out farther, and forces me to admit things I don't know (and therefore have to learn--some of your reference material is very helpful in this regard, I might add), but rarely has enough potential impact of my worldview that I would be tempted to dishonesty or denial.

But this whole issue of epistemology and philosophy of science is much too broad for this small post (my doctoral work was in those fields).

Quoting J.J. Bruce gains you very little anyway Glenn.

It's FF.. Bruce, GK. Pay attention to will get you accused of superficiality every time, believe me...I have been on the wrong end of those myself...

Substituting "Renouncing' and 'abandonment' for 'hatred' changes little, as even a Bruce is forced to admit.

Eh? What do you mean ''as even a Bruce is forced to admit"?

And he has to really stretch to come up with those alternate definitions. You certainly won't find them in any Greek dictionary I've ever seen. Let's just admit he created his rationale out of stratified atmosphere Glenn.

You need to actually interact with the data here, friend... I gave the data in the post that showed this Semitic use of 'hate'--there is no 'creation' here. OF COURSE it's not in a dictionary--its a literary use of a literal word. But since you want evidence, let me cite a few sources (some of which I know you use--you have referenced them before):

1. TDNT: under miseo (5.c): "Hatred in Discipleship. To be a true disciple one must hate all others for Jesus' sake. This is NOT PSYCHOLOGICAL HATRED BUT A TOTAL COMMITMENT THAT GIVES ABSOLUTE PRIORITY TO JESUS." (emphasis mine)

2. Exegetical Dictionary of the NT (xlation of EWNT, Eerdmans, 1993): under miseo (vol. 2. p431) give the definition as 'hate, despise, disregard' and in section 2.c address the passage under question: "Jesus' commands to hate one's family and oneself for his sake (Luke 14.26) and not to love one's family more than him (Matt 10.37) amount to the same thing: the decisive factor for discipleship with Jesus is to disregard all else (cf. also Luke 9.59f)."

3. See also the New International Dict. of NTT (Vol. 1.pp556)--the emphasis is on priority, not animosity.

Instead, if Jesus had intended to say 'renounce' or 'abandon', don't you think he would have used 'apoleipo' instead of 'miseo'?

Probably not, that word was never even used by anyone in the gospels--If he had wanted to say it without the shock value of 'miseo', he probably would have used 'arneomai' (refuse, deny, dispute, disown, disregard; or 'aparneomai' (deny, disown, renounce)! (NIDNTT, I.454) you evangelical Christians really thing that apologists like Bruce, Guthrie, Archer, McDowell, et al, represent some kind of Bible scholarship?

Well, I don't know much about McDowell's background, but I would suggest that the following schools (who granted these gentlemen their doctorates.--in not necessarily 'believer-friendly' environments--would probably be a better judge of their scholarship than you or I):
F.F. Bruce--Cambridge
Guthrie--University of London

If you really want to learn about your Bible, you're gonna have to turn to the legitimate Bible scholars like Loisy, Sunderland, Renen, Gladden, Briggs, Wellhausen, Trattner, Wheless, Remsburg, Conybeare, Cheyne, and so on and on for the unexpurgated truth about that book.

This list is incredible! What did you do, inherit Rhett Butler's Civil War theology As I have checked out your book references throughout your posts, I have been amazed at the arcane and archaic material you depend on. Most of the stuff your refer to in the way of books was written shortly after the Civil War(!)! So much new data and methods have come to light since need to update your sources... Let's look at some of these sources (some are from other posts) and look at the dates:

Kersey Graves (1813-1883!), Sixteen Crucified Saviors, first published 1875 (then again in 1915, 1960, 1971!)--had the best data available to those classic Civil-War scholars...(sardonic smile)

Paul Carus (1852-1919), History of the Devil, first published 1899 (then again in 1969, 1974)--I really love a good 19th century theologian, don't you? (I'm surprised you didn't use the Daniel Defoe (1661?-1731) classic--History of the Devil--as well) [Just to show you that I might know your position better than you do--you should have recommend William Howard Woods' A History of the Devil (Putnam, 1974)--it would accomplish your purpose much better...]

Josiah Russel. The Control of Late Ancient and Medieval Population. Published in 1905.

Wellhausen (1844-1913). Most of his work was pub'd in the 19th century. His source criticism program has been abandoned within the last 50 years in favor of literary, form, and redaction criticism. The discovery of fixed-text extants at Qumran blow his late-development theories out. Although too heavily influenced by Hegel, he was a great scholar--even considering that he seemed to ignore the archeological data available in his day.

Charles A. Briggs (1841-1913). Great thinker, great linguistic, fair theologian. Read him often, but can't use him without processing almost 100 years of new data.

T. Cheyne (1841-1915). Not a bad historical writer, but a bit creative: One scholarly reviewer said: "Unfortunately Cheyne fell victim to the practice of excessive textual emendation--a procedure necessary in order to fit certain awkward portions of the Hebrew text into the Wellhausen evolutionary scheme"--another child of 19th century culture.

Washington Gladden (1836-1918). A biblical scholar? His work was in the social ethics arena, as a political socialist and student of Horace Busnell-the Father of the Social Gospel. His The New Idolatry was about the theme of Protestant alienation of the working class--hardly a textbook on biblical exegesis or theology. What's he got in common with giants like Wellhausen and Briggs (except that they are all outdated)?

F.C. Coneybeare (1856-1924). His work on the LXX was substantial but he has all but dropped out of the biblical literature. His main claim to fame back then was the controversy he sparked in the first issue of the Hibbert Journal, in which he disputed the Trinitarian formula in Mat 27.

J.T. Sunderland (1842-1936). His main work on the origin of the bible was pubd in 1893--using all the discoveries and scholarship we have today, right?

John E. Remsburg (1846-1919). Now here's a biblical scholar for you--no mention in ANY biblical reference in my entire library, nor in the last 35 YEARS of journals (I have then all on CD ROM). A search through the Internet catalogs, however, revealed several books of a Freethinker 'apologetics' character--hmm, I wonder if GK knows that? Mostly wrote in defense of 'freethinking' and Thomas Paine...

Joseph Wheless (b.1868-?). Well, we finally edge into the 20th century... His anti-bible polemical works were written between 1925-30. Although his real life work was as a documenter of legal decisions (mostly Mexico and Tenn..)...again, not as much as a mention or footnote in any reference work--liberal, moderate, conservative. Another apologist? propagandist? (I have ordered his main book through interlibrary loan, as I will do some of the others--I am beginning to suspect that  the material you push out onto the discussion board are simply rehashes of these old works--esp. since you persist in that 1611 KJV...

E. Trattner (b. 1898-?). I don't understand why you put this guy in with Wellhausen, Briggs, and Renen--he only pubd one work on the bible, and it was a popular work in 1929. The rest of his stuff was 'folk-philosophy'--a good synthetic mind, no doubt, but hardly a BIBLICAL scholar. (His studies on the poet Umar Khayyam are referenced in Muslim studies as recently as 30 years ago--in Muslim World).

E. Renan (1823-1892). OOPS, back into the 19th century. But still, Renan's early linguistic work (1862-a history of the Semitic languages) is still good (plus his writing style in his later cynical works is said to be sublime). He is often studied as a tragic figure to saw the emptiness of German criticism to its logical conclusion--a dogmatic anti-supernaturalism. His later works of 'explaining away' well-attested and early 'miracle stories' have largely been rejected by modern scholars of all persuasions.

A. Loisy (1857-1940). His main contribution to biblical (as opposed to theological) studies was published 1893-1895, a Critical History of the Text and Versions of the Bible. It is still mentioned in a few of my reference works, in the sections of textual history. Loisy was a catholic who initially did all of his work in textual criticism and philology. But in the area of theology, even the sympathetic Catholic theologian Schillebeeckx (not a "conservative" by any stretch of the imagination!) uses some interesting phrases in describing Loisy: "well suited to emotional simplifications", "a certain fanaticism", "clearly lacking openness to the views of others", "professional blindness", "progressively less and less patient" [A Survey of Catholic Theology, 1800-1970, pp.53-64, 180ff]. He was quite methodologically naive (p.182), and was even reluctantly described as 'historicist' by the great progressive philosopher Blondel (who had gone to great pains to befriend, understand, and interact with Loisy). It is difficult to understand why I should consider this individual on a peer with even the scholars of his day, much less with modern researchers, with access to materials like the DSS and early rabbinics which demonstrate the early existence of 'dogmas' that Loisy thought were 'late developments'.

With a few exceptions, very few of these would be considered biblical scholars by modern standards, friend.

But where are the modern scholars in your list? or do you simply study the pre-scientific and pre-archeological works of the pre-war years? Do you not read Finegan, Yamauchi, Waltke, Hoehner, DJ Wiseman, Kenneth Kitchen, Cyrus Gordon, NT Wright, Martin Hengel, Hoffmeier, Chilton, Craig Evans, D.A. Carson, John Wenham, Gordon Wenham, Ben Witherington, PW Comfort, Blomberg, Albright, I Howard Marshall, RK Harrison, Goppelt? Aren't you getting tired of serving up the same old hash?

As a beginning, I urge looking up the many available Biblical Journals. Subscriptions to some are only in the $20.00 yr. range and will introduce you to the scholarly world of Bible Criticism.

By now you should have a feel for my resource base. I DO subscribe to several journals in biblical studies (VT, NT, JBL, JANE) and in philosophy (5 jnls), plus I get the Religious and Theological Abstracts for 1,400 journals on CDROM quarterly, with some journals as far back as 1929 (almost reaches back to YOUR resources, eh? ;>) ) I also have an on-line account through the Internet, with full-text fax-back capabilities to over 14,000 journals (at only $10 per article), and in many cases, I have on-line access through the Net to free copies of the articles (if I gopher into the specific university systems). And I have a lot of hardcore reference books (the stds: TDOT, TDNT, Gesenius, BDB, A&G, and over 20 works on the history and background of the ANE alone, etc.), So, I don't need a lot of coaching here, but...I am really interested in where I can buy some of these for $20!!!!!

Another stretch is necessary to call Matthew 10:37 a "...parallel account..." to our Luke 14:26 subject passage. In reality, it's the only verse (with :38) in ALL of Matthew Chapter 10 that can even come close to the content of Luke Chapter 14. And the only reason it comes close is because it shares 5 (!!!) words ( me, mother, father, not, and and!). And that's it! There is NO other harmony or commonality sufficient to consider them "...parallel Accounts...". Read Luke Chapter 14 and you'll find remote harmonization only with Matthew 22:1-10 (somewhat harmonious with Luke 14:14-24) and Matthew 5:13 ( harmonious with Luke 14:34.). And on this, you (and Bruce too!) dare to suggest Matthew Chapter 10 is harmonious with Luke Chapter 14! Some might consider the claim an outright LIE Glenn, even though apologists have been using it for years now! But then, that's the 'modus operendi' of apologists, isn't it?

Huh?!--the very sources YOU cite (esp. TDNT/OT's) use these as parallel accounts--and nobody argues for parallelism at the entire-chapter level--we are talking about that one verse/passage, so quit trying to put words into our mouths. I don't know who taught you your methods, but they obviously weren't familiar with the basics of literary-criticism. In recording sayings of Jesus Luke frequently employs a Semitic idiom which Matthew avoids (cf. GB Caird, The Language and Imagery of the Bible, Westminister, 1980, p111; and Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the Gospels, IVP, 1987 on the more formal interactions between Mark, Q, Luke, and Matthew).