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4/26/09

Atheism, the Bible, Rape and EvilBible.com, part 4 of 6

We now continue our consideration of evilbible.com’s claims as to the question of rape in the Bible.

Again, we must begin by keeping within the forefront of our minds that many alleged champions of reason are mere pseudo-skeptics who have widdled down skepticism and scholarship to the point that it amounts to nothing but elephant hurling via cutting and pasting the first hyperlink that comes up on a search engine when a search for an anti-theistic slogan is conducted.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6


We must also alert our minds to the fact that any and every atheist condemnation of any action whatsoever are unfounded assertion in the form of arguments from outrage, arguments from personal incredulity, arguments for embarrassment, etc.

Thus far I have asserted and evidenced that “rape” is nowhere in any text we have considered thus far but only in the very troubled mind of evilbible.com’s author who appears to have spent much time imagining rape to the point of seeing rape where rape is not.

For example, in part 2 it was “Obviously these women were repeatedly raped.”
In part 3 we were told that “Clearly Moses and God approves of rape of virgins.”

However, the author may have something this time as we begin again with the next text of choice from evilbible.com’s claim that the Bible and its God endorse rape as per Deuteronomy 22:28-29,

If a man is caught in the act of raping a young woman who is not engaged, he must pay fifty pieces of silver to her father. Then he must marry the young woman because he violated her, and he will never be allowed to divorce her.

The commentary to this text begins and ends with this statement, “What kind of lunatic would make a rape victim marry her attacker? Answer: God.”
I would tend to disagree and would answer: “I certainly do not know but it was certainly not God or anyone in the Bible.”

My general modus operandi for doing apologetics is straight forward in that I typically stick to the text, perhaps bring in other texts that cover the same issue for the sake of elucidation, I do not mind sticking to the translation being quoted to me since the main things are the plain things and rarely appeal to original languages, etymology, etc. Original language and etymology most certainly are very important and have a place but my style is cleaner and more direct.
Of course, on occasion, as I have done two times thus far, it is important to compare translations and consider original languages, etymology, etc.

I have determined that the word “rape” in the above text of the New Living Translation is not appropriate. Now, please consider carefully that this is no mere assertion employed to get the Bible out of trouble but that it is the conclusion of research that reasons thusly:

Hebrew “taphas” refers to catching, handling, taking hold, grasping, etc. and “shakab” refers to laying down.
There is actually no reason to think that the woman was raped.
I performed a search of 13 translations and found 2 that translated as “rape”: the NIV and the NLT.

Interestingly, I have run across two atheist claims that the Bible and its God endorse rape in this text. Coincidentally, I am sure, one was by Positive Atheism’s Cliff Walker who quoted the NIV (New International Version) and evilbible.com’s author who quoted the NLT. I certainly do not know why these two atheists just happened to choose these two translations but, apparently, I am more skeptical than they and so I urge you to consider other readings:

KJV, “a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her.”
NKJV, “a virgin, who is not betrothed, and he seizes her and lies with her.”
ESV, “a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her.”
NASB, “a virgin, who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her.”
RSV, “a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her.”
ASV, “a virgin, that is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her.”
HNV, “a virgin, who is not pledged to be married, and lay hold on her, and lie with her.”
Young’s, “a virgin who is not betrothed, and hath caught her, and lain with her.”
Darby’s, “a virgin, who is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her.”
Webster’s, “a virgin, who is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her.”
RVR, “una joven virgen que no fuere desposada, y la tomare y se acostare con ella.”

Please be aware that the verse actually ends with a statement that “they are found.” What is that all about?
Does it mean that he was raping her and did not get away with it? Nay.
The text is referring to a shotgun wedding. The man and woman engaged in intercourse not only while she was a virgin but when they were not even betrothed. Therefore, they must now be wed.

Let us consider the next recommended evilbible.com text before closing this segment; Deuteronomy 22:23-24,

If within the city a man comes upon a maiden who is betrothed, and has relations with her, you shall bring them both out of the gate of the city and there stone them to death: the girl because she did not cry out for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbors wife.

The title given to this quote is “Death to the Rape Victim” and the carefully reasoned commentary reads,

It is clear that God doesn't give a damn about the rape victim. He is only concerned about the violation of another mans [sic] "property".

Interestingly enough, up until this point evilbible.com’s author has been exclusively quoting the NLT. Now, and for the rest of the quoted texts with one exception, for whatever reason the translation switches to the NAB (New American Bible). Let us consider the NLT rendering,

Suppose a man meets a young woman, a virgin who is engaged to be married, and he has sexual intercourse with her. If this happens within a town…

Same difference: nothing about rape.

In fact, we encounter the same word “shakab” as we did above. Thus, clearly the issue is not rape. But, some may argue, that since it states that she is at fault “because she did not cry out for help” she was obviously being raped but for whatever reasons did not, or what about “could not,” cry out. Careful now, please do not let yourselves be influenced by someone who sees rape where rape is not.

Evilbible.com’s author is a tricky one, not tricky enough for the genuine skeptic, but tricky nonetheless. You see, the author, for some unknown reason, does not bother reading just a wee bit further; all the way from the quoted Deuteronomy 22:23-24 to the very next three verses—you guessed it: verses 25-27 which reads, in the NLT,

But if the man meets the engaged woman out in the country, and he rapes her, then only the man should die.
Do nothing to the young woman; she has committed no crime worthy of death. This case is similar to that of someone who attacks and murders a neighbor.
Since the man raped her out in the country, it must be assumed that she screamed, but there was no one to rescue her.

And while we are at it why not in the NAB also,

If, however, it is in the open fields that a man comes upon such a betrothed maiden, seizes her and has relations with her, the man alone shall die.
You shall do nothing to the maiden, since she is not guilty of a capital offense. This case is like that of a man who rises up against his neighbor and murders him:
it was in the open fields that he came upon her, and though the betrothed maiden may have cried out for help, there was no one to come to her aid.

Let us elucidate the entire matter:
According to Deuteronomy 22:22 adulterers, both consenting, were to be put to death (here; an already married woman).
That is one scenario.

According to Deuteronomy 22:23-24 adulterers, both consenting, were to be put to death (here; a betrothed woman who is, for all intents and purposes, considered a “wife”). That she did not cry out means that she did not protest. No, not that she did not protest being raped; she did not protest having relations and thus, she consented.
That is another scenario.

Deuteronomy 22:25-27 an actual rapist is to be put to death. This is an actual rape and evilbible.com’s author did not bother mentioning it. Why not? I certainly do not know but may imagine that it is because it discredits the entire “Rape in the Bible” page. It is certainly annoying when little things such as facts get in the way of a good polemic.
That is another scenario.

And there is one more scenario in Deuteronomy 22:28-29-NAB,

If a man comes upon a maiden that is not betrothed, takes her and has relations with her, and their deed is discovered, the man who had relations with her shall pay the girl's father fifty silver shekels and take her as his wife, because he has deflowered her. Moreover, he may not divorce her as long as he lives.

Again, this is a “taphas” “shakab” scenario in which both consented and so restitution is made and a shotgun wedding ensues.

So much for evilbible.com’s integrity—although, an apt demonstration of either basic lack of biblical knowledge, even on the particular subject they are studying in order to criticize and/or an example of manipulative anti-Judeo-Christian propaganda.

Another very important aspect of this whole issue is that some atheists seem to think that a stoneable offence meant that anyone could pick up stones at anytime and just start pelting an offender. Nay.

There was a very carefully regulated judicious system in place and each case in which the law was thought to have been broken was carefully adjudicated. This began with Moses himself and, with time, only became more refined (see Exodus 18:13-26).

5 comments:

  1. Can't possibly thank you enough for this, all of your Biblical studies and for stating God's Word in truth here. Thank you ever so much. Your hard work has helped me w/ my fear and concerns that were coming into play. It all makes sense now-thanks again for everything.

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  2. Indeed this is a good solution Mariano! A well reasoned and historical-contextualized answer.

    I do think that there is another possibility that is worthy of mention here though:

    We must always remember that the Biblical books must be interpreted first and foremost by the culture in which they were written.

    This is ture even if one doesn't care or doesn't believe in any God.

    For that reason, even if your excellent lexical argument is ever refuted (don't hold your breath) and this is indeed a rape scenario, the fact would be that the world of the Ancient Near East in which this verse was written, the command presented would be a very shocking, ideed merciful solution.

    Just for arguments sake, lets say a young woman is raped in the Hebrew community this verse is addressing. In that society, as in all aocieties of the ANE, even though the act was considered wrong, the young woman would be considered "defiled" or "unclean" even beyond the Hebrew sensitivites for such cleanliness. Young men would be encouraged by their families to seek out other young virgin girls who lacked such "un-cleanliness".

    A ridiculous social practise to-be-sure (as if we don't have a few of our own along the lines of murdering our own children and allowing memebers of our species who are of the same gender to retain the delusion that there isn't anything wrong with their attempts at some kind of carnal [though not in any way "sexual"] relationships with each other) but the fact would be that if/once that girls support network (her family) died or was cut out of her life in some other way, she would be cast to the wind with no hope of survival at all.

    This verse would then demand that the rapist take her into his home and social network to support her as long as he lived (with her sharing full in all the rights of a wife's inheritance once he passed).

    So either way...

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  3. Even taking for granted everything you've said: Deut 22:28-29 implies that if a woman is raped *in town* and does not scream out, we must assume she consented, the rapist must pay a fine, and she must be required to marry the rapist. In effect the text implies that rape victims have a responsibility to scream out. But rape victims surely don't have that responsibility because sometimes rape victims (even ones who were raped 'in town') fail to scream out either because they can't or because they're terrified.

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  4. I think you're wrong in arguing that the woman in verse 28 was merely seduced. Exodus 22:16 describes seduction, and uses the word "pathah" (entice, deceive, seduce), but does not use the word "taphas." It looks to me that every other time the word "taphas" is used in the OT regarding a person being acted on by someone else, the implication is "seized by force."

    http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H8610&t=KJV

    I do agree with you that the Bible does not condemn raped women to a life of rape, I just think your explanation on why is wrong. We live in a culture where sex is considered a private matter and marital rape was only recently outlawed; the ancient Jews lived in a culture where sexual obligation was more publicly discussed and marital rape was recognized.

    In Mosaic Law, at least as God's people understood it (Jesus essentially endorses the Shammaite understanding of the OT law in Matthew 19:9 - he disagrees with them only in saying men are *allowed* to divorce rather than *ordered* to), divorce was allowed based on one partner's refusal to fulfill the obligations of marriage. So when Deuteronomy 22:28-29 says the man must marry her, *but can't divorce her*, this meant that the woman had NO obligations in marriage, while he had ALL the obligations of marriage.

    The fact that people interpret Deuteronomy 22:28-29 as justifying lifetime rape reflects the fact that our culture ignores marital rape; the ancient Jews did not ignore men who raped their wives the way we do, so the law did not mean the woman faced a lifetime of rape. It meant the man faced a lifetime of slavery, either slavery in the sense of having to serve the woman for the rest of their lives (when it came to richer men), or literal slavery in order to pay the exorbitant bride price (in the case of poorer men).

    David Instone-Brewer's "Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible", although not specifically about rape, does clearly explain the differences between marriage among the ancient Jews as well as at the time of Christ and the early church, versus marriage as it is understood today, and points out what this means in terms of Deuteronomy 22:28-29. God took rape much more seriously than most moderns do.

    Anonymous,

    I agree that rape victims don't have that responsibility, and I don't think Mosaic Law insists that women scream even in towns. Tamar, in II Samuel 13. does not scream at the time of the rape, but the Bible is clear that she was raped. Deuteronomy 22:24 is an example of "case law"; the underlying logic is that evidence that the woman was unwilling to start with is all that is necessary.

    One Jewish school of thought argues that, "In cases of rape, a woman is generally presumed not to have consented to the intercourse, even if she enjoyed it, even if she consented after the sexual act began and declined a rescue!" (http://www.jewfaq.org/women.htm)

    There's a quote from the Torah is much more graphic than that one , but the point is that under ancient Jewish law the woman was considered innocent in illicit sexual situations unless the evidence against her was overwhelming.

    Under Biblical law, in cases where it's his word against hers, and she says it was rape, you take her word for it. This follows the general Biblical principle that the more powerful person has the greater responsibility. It also fits with what we know of male and female physiology; one of the very few differences between men and women that hold cross culturally are that men are more aggressive, and they also have greater upper body strength, meaning it's both more likely and much easier for the average guy to overpower the average woman.

    God holds men accountable for ignoring a woman's "no," even if she was too frightened or intimidated to actually verbalize it.

    shilohmm from LiveJournal

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  5. Comparing translations isn't a critical examination of the scripture. Using a concordance is. With a concordance you can check each usage of the Hebrew word, and try to get a feel for its Hebrew usage.

    Lets examine Deuteronomy 22:28-29 with a little more rigor.

    There are 65 occurrences in 60 verses of Strong's number 8610 in the Hebrew concordance I referenced.

    http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H08610&t=KJV&sstr=1

    Read each verse, and ask yourself a simple question. Does being 'taken or caught' seem against the will of whats taken?

    Is there even a single instance of this strong number being used where what's being taken has any say?

    For those that are unwilling to follow the links and or do your own work.

    1. Many of the usages of this Hebrew word apply to kings being taken to their deaths.
    2. Many usages of this Hebrew word apply to people being taken someplace against their will.
    3. What part about 'seize' is unclear to you? You have 4 translations that use it.

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/seize

    1 ausually seise \ˈsēz\ : to vest ownership of a freehold estate in boften seise : to put in possession of something
    2 a : to take possession of : confiscate b : to take possession of by legal process
    3 a : to possess or take by force : capture b : to take prisoner : arrest
    4 a : to take hold of : clutch b : to possess oneself of : grasp c : to understand fully and distinctly : apprehend
    5 a : to attack or overwhelm physically : afflict b : to possess (as one's mind) completely or overwhelmingly
    6 : to bind or fasten together with a lashing of small stuff (as yarn, marline, or fine wire)

    Notice usage 4a. of seize means to 'Take hold'. That's 4 more translations.

    So if you take a woman against her will, and have sex with her, what is that called?

    ReplyDelete