B. DYBWAD BROCHMANN
THE ART OF READING THE BIBLE
How The Bible proves its accuracy by not concealing anything, but instead encompasses everything that has to do with human life.
Earlier I mentioned some people convicted of treason in Norway; I have cut out an article from the newspaper from an anti-Semite in Ålesund (a city in southern Norway). I assume that everyone who reads The Bible, in the same way the author of this article does, needs to learn to read The Bible again in a new light? The example thatís given here is unbelievably informative because it both demonstrates the wrong way to read The Bible, and because you can see that The Bible documents its own incorruptible sincerity and truthfulness when relating the creation of man from the beginning of time.
By O. M. Kongsvold
"In 1814 in Eidsvoll, when the Norwegian constitution became law, a paragraph was included that denied the Jews entrance into Norway. Certainly there were fairly good reasons for that. Now we will look a little closer at who the Jews are by looking at their own history. We will begin with their father, the patriarch.
Abraham -The cradle of his faith is said to have been in Chaldea, in fact in Ur (then called Mesopotamia, now called Iraq). He travels through Canaan all the way to the southern border without finding any place to settle. He came to Egypt poor and downtrodden. Here he became rich, but in such a despicable way that he was almost tempted to go back to repeat the experience. His beautiful wife, Sarah, was presented to the Pharaoh as his sister. The Pharaoh, who took Sarah as his wife, caught a disease, and the result of this rotten story was that the Pharaoh sent Abraham and his infected wife, along with illegally obtained goods, out of the country. In Genesis12 it is stated that he returned to Canaan as a rich man. The economic success that he had in Egypt tempted him to repeat the experiment one more time. This time the victim he chose was the Philistine king, Abimíelech, king of Gerar. The experiment was successful and Abraham wasnít only rich, but had the whole country at his feet. (Genesis 20).
According to "common moral values", it isnít easy to understand how Abraham had earned any blessings.
Isaac Ė He was more like Abraham than his other sons, since his mother was Abrahamís half sister. Isaac was married in Mesopotamia, but after a while, when the inheritance from his father had dwindled quite a bit, he immigrated to the land of the Philistines. Isaac repeated the same experiment his father had done, but in contrast, he wasnít exiled and in a short time he became rich. It must be assumed that he earned his money dishonestly, since no one can become the richest man in the country in such a short time by doing honest farming. People tried to get revenge on the exploiter. This was the first sign of the well-known historical persecution of the Jews.
Jacob Ė Just like his predecessors, he was a wealthy man. He bred cattle according to the laws of heredity, and in 6 years he had obtained the most and the best of Labanís cattle, and became extremely rich. Therefore he had to flee.
Joseph Ė What is special about this person is his career in Egypt. He acquired what the Chicago Stock Exchange calls a "corner". After being in operation for 7 years, he had arranged a system where he had all the money, almost all the cattle, all the land, and finally the people had to work, just like slaves for the Pharaoh, by giving up one-fifth of their harvest. If this system is plutocratic or communistic, the readers can decide. The people didnít like this arrangement, and as a result of this, there was a fairly strong anti-Semitic movement.
Moses Ė He is the real creator of the Jewish nation. Many people think that he isnít Jewish, but is the son of the Pharaohís daughter. He was a typical leading figure who didnít have to share the responsibility."
And thatís all from Mr. Kongsvold. We have quoted the first quarter of his long article to demonstrate an example of how it can be when you donít have perspective or understanding for the eternally present, the future, and the possible.
He uses naïve "common moral values" in practice in Norway in 1945 as the basis for judging people and their actions in the Orient of a thousand years ago. Notions such as "time" and "place" donít seem to exist for Mr. Kongsvold. Since I had to reply to my friend, who sent me the article, I would now like to share with you my answer. I believe this will be sufficient here, while weíre discussing "the art of reading The Bible", since I have written much more about the anti-Semitic delusion elsewhere.
Kvitheim, Norway - March 1, 1945
Have you ever been interested in Peer Gynt? Iím asking since youíre sending me an article that reminds me very much of the superficiality and ignorance and self-importance of Peer Gynt. Itís so easy for our compatriots to believe political propaganda without questioning anything, and then writing publicly about it as if they understood what they were writing about.
1. To begin with, itís not possible to apply our northern and ethical values of 1946 A.C. to stories and people from several 1000 years before Christ. Remember that this also happened in the Orient.
If we had similar and unvarnished stories, for example from our Norwegian forefathers or from the old German chieftains for only 1500 or 2000 years ago, it surely wouldnít be difficult to find stories just as "nasty" as those Kongsvold mentioned, for example about Abraham. I usually donít comment on the type of ignorance and thoughtlessness as shown by Mr. Kongsvold. I donít even read that kind of thing. But since you Ė an old friend Ė obviously have been captivated and impressed by that type of thing, so for your sake Iíll try to shed some light on this question.
Kongsvold and you forget to look at the unending large perspective that human development has acquired.
"From such a low level
to such a height,
what else is there within our might."
To speak about "such a height" might be a little exaggeration now. I think the world is still at a low level, but things are moving forward. Kongsvold judges the Jews and doesnít look at his own situation. He writes, without qualification, as if the Jews of today are in the same place as old Abraham during his time in Egypt.
Why doesnít he first give us a description of the life and behavior of Olav, the Holy Ė the Norwegian "saint"? He was the one who cut off the heads of all people of different persuasions and seriously meant that it was truly Christian to do this. Or, you could also give us a description of the first Norwegian pilgrims who traveled through the world like the worst robbers and bandits.
Or just go back to Gustav Adolph and look at his "Christianity". Do you see any development?
Or do you mean that the "Nasjonal Samling" (the Nazi party lead by Vidkun Quisling) today unfortunately stands all too close to Olav, the Holyís way of thinking and moral interpretation, when they shoot people with different viewpoints?
Read Troel Lundís work: Daily Life in Northern Europe, and youíll get something to think about. And read about the old, bloodthirsty Germans, about when they kidnapped women and murdered children. If you do, then I think you will soon see the foolishness in the way Kongsvold describes the old patriarchs.
2. In the Orient you still have today a fairly open, honest and natural way to look at human reproductive life, as compared to how we understand things. The Bible is an eastern book and was, in the beginning, only written for a population who understood eastern ways and customs. Therefore, there are a lot of stories in The Bible that we (hypocrites?) in Europe are "bashful or uncomfortable" in reading. "The whole Bible canít be inspired by God when there is so much unpleasantness in it," is the point of view some people have. This is also Kongvoldís point of view.
If, for example, a "book of truth" were written in Norway about well-known Norwegian men, the book would be completely unreliable, because we often use "powder puffs and make-up" (try to "rewrite" what really happened). We prefer to leave out all of the human weaknesses because we arenít used to being completely truthful and realistic. If this had been the case with The Bible, then it wouldnít have told all the truth about mankind and the creation of mankind. Then it wouldnít have been inspired of God. You couldnít write a bible today in Oslo, no matter how much money you had, for the simple reason that such a bible would be inspired by opportunistic motives, political, "moral", and "ethical" motives, as well as having to take publishers and the press into consideration. Such a "bible" would have been inspired by the devil alone and not have been a true bible. However, the Bible of the Jews is true, because it mentions both God and Satan. It discusses everything so that we can learn to recognize Ė and not hide Ė the truth about ourselves, about our own nature, about our primitive beginning, about our hard hearts, and about how slow we are in understanding, which is so well demonstrated by Kongsvold.
Can you imagine if Reverend Hygen and Bishop Berggren (two central figures in the Norwegian religious movement at the time the book was written Ė 1950) wrote a "bible"?
My dear friend, I donít mean that they need to do it, because everybody knows ahead of time how it would probably look. In addition, it would be old-fashioned and obsolete in 20 years. The Bible has been the most widely read book for more than 2000 years because it speaks the truth and describes reality. Hygen would not even include the Old Testament, which I can well understand. His virginal innocence makes him just as embarrassed and "shy", as Kongsvold is deep down disgusted, when they read The Bible and are expected to "believe" that The Bible is the book about truth and reality, inspired by God. The Bible includes everything. Nothing is opportunistic. There is no "powder and make up" (rewriting things) because we need to understand ourselves and see the risks and opportunities that come with becoming conscious and eating of the tree of knowledge. But science and the Church still donít see this. They still lie about our origin. The story about Abraham is probably true, because Abraham wasnít an animal or plant. He was a conscious being with all the virtues and burdens, possibilities and dangers that are normally included.
What does your teacher Kongsvold know about this? Nothing, I can assure you.
According to our Norwegian Pharisee moral it is a disgrace for a woman to be a mother if she doesnít have the formalities in order (isnít married). In China itís the exact opposite Ė the worst disgrace and unhappiness for a woman is to die without ever having been a mother. We find something very similar in the Old Testament in the beautiful portrayal about Jeftaís daughter. Her girlfriends cried, not because she was sacrificed and died, but because she died before she was able to have a child.
Mr. Kongsvoldís permission to call the story Ďbeautifulí is not needed, since he is so little qualified to come with a legitimate opinion. In addition, he clearly writes about things that he doesnít know anything about. He just feels like other Peer Gynts Ė he has an irresistible urge and need to confide in others his great ignorance.
3. Kongsvold does have an excuse in that our uninspired Church still hasnít managed to open its heart for the light of truth. They continue to live in a huge daydream where they discuss and arrange matters as if human beings were immediately created as a finished product. They still donít see that mankind is "a work in progress" and that we are living in the middle of the great creation.
Therefore itís the fault of the Church and the school that there are so many ignorant and gullible people like you and Kongsvold, who are so easy to fool and who too easily fall prey to propaganda monopolies.
As long as the world doesnít see the big picture in the history of our development, many otherwise good and well-meaning people will make the same mistake as you and Kongsvold. God doesnít change, but we human beings grow in ethical comprehension gradually as we discover our fatherís and forefatherís delusions and misunderstandings. However, if we donít look at ourselves as "a work in progress", then it really looks like God has changed considerably from the time He, for example, enjoyed blood sacrifices, so that most people now think that God doesnít want anymore blood.
The accounts of Abraham and Isaac, as well as the account of the bloodthirsty gods here in northern Europe, have to be understood as explaining manís own primitive imagination thousands of years ago. Take notice of this.
God is always the same. However, we Ė as well as the Jews Ė are objects for development and "creation".
Today in the world we are facing re-birth and creation. Everything weíre experiencing is just "contractions/birth pains". The way to life is "a narrow entryway", although many people who think as Kongsvold does also think that this is a "nasty" way to describe things.
Both you and Kongsvold have passed through this "narrow entryway" although you have forgotten it, and are too "shy" and unrealistic to take that into account. You have forgotten that when you were children, you thought and acted as children. If you havenít forgotten, please allow both the Jewish people and the Norwegian and German nations to pass through their spiritual "playroom", and try to see and acknowledge the infantile characteristics that still distinguish the world.
Do you remember the time when you were confirmed? Think if the world "grew up" so much that it could soon be confirmed. We have had many thousands of years to sleep, dream, and play. Isnít that enough soon? I have the impression that your teacher anyway is very slow in development and understanding.
Whoever judges others, easily judges himself. Think about the missionaries who think of childish idolatry when they see black people playing with their pictures and symbols. However, the missionaries donít see their own pictures and Mollochs here at home, if they did they would be looking at their own way of life before they got busy judging their black brotherís way of life.
Itís the same way with all the anti-Semites and those who hate the Jews. They have no idea that they are judging themselves and hate and scorn and persecute themselves, when they persecute, judge, hate, or scorn the Jews.
I forgive both you and the Jews, for they know not what they do. But think more about this for your own sake.
My dear friend, if this isnít enough to motivate you to learn the truth, then I feel sorry for you. If you can be satisfied knowing all the inadequacies that I have shown with Kongsvold, then your future looks quite sad. You lose much of the richness and meaning of life because you are too easily satisfied regarding your spiritual food and nourishment.
The anti-Semites remind me of the Prodigal Son who was "happy to eat the same food the pigs ate". Do yourself a favor and listen to an old friend who knows more about these things than Mr. Kongsvold.
After I had written and sent my answer to the Kongsvold article, I started thinking that maybe my answer still wasnít detailed enough. The truth about the tree of knowledge being both good and bad would have been not necessarily true if the portrayal of the "oldest" human beings hadnít substantiated that their dawning "knowledge" really was a blessing and a curse. Man is privileged in having the knowledge about himself and his surroundings. The ability to reflect was awakened and man "saw" that they were naked. There was something new that the animal wasnít aware of because it didnít possess "knowledge" or reflection. Knowledge was a double-edged sword. That is why in the Pentateuch it is necessary to tell about "Onan" in Genesis 38: 7 Ė 10, who "spilled his seed upon the ground". Other "distasteful details" also had to be mentioned to explain as clearly as possible their own primitive way of looking at things from the beginning of time. The Lord God wasnít, and of course isnít, primitive as the first human beings were.
However, the spirit in them is still as primitive, innocent, simple, and spontaneous as we understand the spirit of people in pre-historic times to have been. Since theologians think that God was something else than spirit, some of them thought about "Lord" as being exclusively outside human beings, who revealed Himself in the Garden of Eden, and was a strict, but otherwise benevolent older man, they naturally ran into difficulties when they needed to answer Kongsvoldís accusations and statements. Could the Lord God be pleased with a man who treated his wife the way he did, and presented her as being his sister?
It was their rich intuition and their intelligent sense of objective reality that mainly caused them to be a chosen people. None of the oriental stories and myths came closer to the truth than The Pentateuch and no way of looking at a society went as deep as that of the Jews. Therefore they became The Creatorís "guinea pigs", as the Jews themselves put it, and therefore they became "Godís chosen people" through the power of the law of "survival of the fittest". They were "the naturally chosen ones". (Compare my presentation here with "An Open Letter to Adolph Hitler", 1937).
The first group of people, large or small, to take up competition with the Jews on this point are a "Leader Nation" and a "Leader People". When we go back in history for thousands of years, we find no other people who have tried to understand the truth about human nature and humanityís chances and risk more than the Jews. Some examples of the natural result of the "early life of reflection", as well as other things, are "the dance around the golden calf", "the lost paradise", and "prostitution".
If we should write the truth about Abraham, we wouldnít write in the way Kongsvold did, instead we would say that in the beginning men sold and traded their own wives, but several thousand years later the so-called cultivated man now limited it to buying and selling each othersí daughters. The conditions of sale varied from land to land and the sales contracts ranged from dealing with passing fancies to life-long contracts that were most acknowledged and stamped by "the church" or "the state". In order to get the stateís stamp on the contract, the couple getting married needed to have so-called "witnesses" (because "the state" doesnít believe people). The others who enter into so-called "loose connections" prefer not to have any witnesses.
Itís clear that The Savior looks ahead to the time when we shall no longer commit adultery, and when we no longer shall give in marriage or be married, but live like "the angels in heaven". (Matthew 22:30, 24:38). Until further notice we have to rely on marriage and divorce laws and paragraphs, because we are still so hard-hearted and at the same time weíre so drowsy and too little self-critical to find the lost paradise again.
The fact is that The Bible reports that prostitution was practiced physically and spiritually. If The Bible hadnít included this, then it would not have been true to itself, i.e. inspired by the spirit of God who speaks in us and to us and about us, a true book of many pages about man, his dangers and temptations, chances, preferences and possibilities, i.e. a book about the order and legality of life to which our life is attached.
The Bible discusses, for ex., the question of "in breeding". Moses has strictly forbidden in breeding, as have many others. Maybe people who live closer to nature have laws against in breeding, for all I know. At the same time, in Genesis 19:31-38, we have examples that in breeding happened - for ex., the story of Lotís daughters both of whom were impregnated by their father. Individuality in the beginning wasnít so complicated as in our generation, which is why the term "in breeding" played a relatively lesser role than with us.
There is probably not a more detailed and informative book about the "beginning of man" than The Bible. It is irreplaceable for those people of truth who are seeking the truth as the way to salvation and freedom. But then, that kind of thing Mr. Kongsvold doesnít understand. A good way to describe him is to quote from Ecclesiastes11:4, "He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap".
He follows "the wind" (the propaganda of today that is: "here today and gone tomorrow") and therefore, with his unclear thinking, he doesnít gain any wisdom. You have to be humble to read The Bible. You need to "be of truth" and love truth and reality, more than anything else, in order to have contact with the eternal spiritual power centers and power stations of life.
Kongsvold doesnít seem to have any idea about all of the Norwegians in the 20th century who have "dealt with their Sara" (i.e. treated others in an unreasonable way) in ways that are at least as grotesque as old Abraham.
He manages to find fault with his oriental brother of thousands of years ago, but doesnít seem to admit to the prostitution, in body and spirit, in his own country.
You need only think about what kind of bible would have been written by, for ex., a Professor Vegard, a Kristine Bonnevie, a Reverend Hygen, and a Bishop Berggrav (well-known names in Oslo, at the time). In fact, that kind of "bible" is already available, since most of them have already witnessed and written about how they live their lives, and that is the only value of this type of literature. In 100 years, when people read this type of literature from Oslo, they will be shocked by the ignorance that was taken for "Gospel" in "know it all Oslo" in the 20th century. The only thing in common with The Pentateuch was that we talked about how we felt, but otherwise an accurate account was not reported of how we lived our lives, and I wonder: "Why not?" The answer is that we had developed a moral and ethical way of evaluating things that was so unreliable that we used cosmetics, took advantage of situations, imagined things to be what they werenít, behaved like The Pharisees, often lied our way through many situations Ėand all this was done to hide our nakedness.
The report of the first human beings "fig leaf", and their great sincerity, calmness, and their many abundant and divine inspirations, outshines most of the other literature in the world. The old onesí immediate understanding of life and their fearful suspicions about the perils of knowledge, their intimate conversations with the devil himself, their lost paradise, and about the two cherubs who the blessed spirit used to guard the entrance, yes, all of this is so great and abundant, so unbelievably wonderful, that the only thing we can do is whole-heartedly, with all our intellect and emotion, kneel before God and confess our delusion. We realize our inadequacy when we try to understand the eternal truths about us that are contained within The Bible.
Therefore, I cannot state too strongly that, all hating and persecuting of the Jews is only an unconscious and uncontrolled persecution of ourselves, because we are afraid to learn the truth about ourselves. Since the history of the Jewish people is a prototype for the history of mankind, it is a mirror where we can learn to see ourselves. The world is reduced to stupidity and darkness when it hasnít understood the human privilege that exists in the knowledge and information about life. The world stands alone when it misinterprets, discards, and belittles The Holy Bible, because it tells the 100% truth about us - our privileges, our sexual life, spiritual life, and the life of the soul.
People donít realize theyíre isolating themselves by choosing to remain so connected to their baser selves. Unfortunately they reject The Bible, by deciding that it is "beyond" them, or out of their reach.