It's in the Bible. Really. ; the Bible Is Full of Curiosities and Contradictions

Article excerpt

A captioned photo making the rounds on Facebook right now shows a beefy, masculine upper arm with a tattoo quoting Leviticus 20:13, which condemns homosexuality. Below it is a caption noting Leviticus 19:28, which appears to condemn tattoos ("Ye shall not print any marks upon you."). Some call this "cherry picking" - specifically how people tend to selectively pick their way through the Bible (and the Quran) grabbing verses here and there that appeal to their particular personalities and world views, while totally ignoring other verses that are "troublesome," including those that are confusing, contradictory or just plain inconvenient.

The phrase "grocery store religion" has also been used pejoratively as a reference to those professing to be Christians who push their carts around the marketplace picking up only what they like and ignoring the rest.

However, the central message for Christians, in particular, is not diminished by troublesome verses; the central message of Jesus Christ, in the Beatitudes, for instance, leaves little room for debate.

The Ten Commandments are not especially obscure either.

But the Bible is full of curiosities and contradictions, none of which would be particularly important except when they are plucked up and used divisively - often out of context - as weapons against people for reasons of race, gender or variant religious traditions.

In four of the most riveting moments from the second season of "West Wing" (Oct. 18, 2000) the U.S. president, played by Martin Sheen, dresses down a visiting Christian radio pundit by asking her to render judgment on matters close to his own heart: Can he sell his daughter into slavery (Exodus 21-7) and for what price; must he execute a senior staff person for working on the Sabbath (Exodus 35- 2); and what's to become of football when Leviticus 11-7 clearly states that it is forbidden to even touch the skin of a pig?

You can see the full scene at www.youtube.com (type in: West Wing-Dr. Jacobs-Bible References).

Derreck Bennett, of Evansville, is an independent student of the historical development of the Judeo-Christian religion with an emphasis on religious syncretism - the fusion of religious ideas across cultures. …