Bible Family Values—in Pictures!

"Judah and the Prostitute," from The Brick Testament.

"Judah and the Prostitute," from The Brick Testament.

Tibor Krausz’s article today, “Adam’s Family Jewels,” has gotten a good number of readers riled up. Bob R. of Grand Rapids wrote:

Hello, I enjoyed your article.  I’m a Graduate of Wheaton College’s Ancient Languages program, a former fundamentalist, whose immersion in these stories caused him to relinquish any pretense to literalism, inerrancy, or even authority in the Bible.

If you’ve never seen it, there’s a great resource online that deals with these little tid-bits in a humorous way.  It’s called the Brick Testament:

He’s right about that. The Brick Testament is really very, very great. Commenters on the KtB Facebook page took the matter even further. Elizabeth Lorick writes:

Well, let’s see . . . using your concubine to have children because your wife is “barren.” Telling a high-ranking official (Pharoah) that your wife is your sister, implying it’s okay for him to sleep with her, because you don’t have the gazungas to stand up to him. What else? Oh, having 300 wives and 700 concubines, a la Solomon. And, working 7 years for the wife of your dreams only to be tricked by her father into marrying the less attractive one – then, despising her and working another 7 years for the one you really wanted – but, this is the one that was “barren” but you still love her more and just use the less attractive one to fill your quiver. Other than that, biblical family values are the bomb!

Krausz’s article focuses exclusively on the Hebrew Bible, though that doesn’t stop others from venturing into the New Testament. On Facebook, Bob R. adds:

Not to mention Jesus’ Mom cheated on Joseph with God.

Few writers capture the strangeness of contemporary Christian “family values,” when compared to the Bible they supposedly come from, than British literary critic Terry Eagleton. In a 2004 essay for the New Statesman, he writes:

The New Testament is also largely silent about the family, though what little it has to say is unremittingly hostile. With commendable impudence, the boy Jesus refuses to apologise to his distraught parents for wandering off. He insists instead that what he calls his Father’s business takes priority over domestic loyalties. Any pious Jew of the time would have understood that his Father’s business did not mean, in the first place, religious ritual, but questions of justice and solidarity. What Jesus has in mind are the staple Judaic obligations of feeding the hungry, welcoming immigrants and protecting the poor from the violence of the rich. Later, he will propose that such things, rather than churchgoing and piety, are the criteria for salvation or damnation.

With a celibate son, a virgin mother and a cuckold for a father, the Holy Family was hardly the kind they celebrate down in Dallas. The most important Father of all in the New Testament wantonly condemns his own son to death. When Jesus is in the womb, Luke’s Gospel puts into his mother’s mouth a triumphal chant traditionally known as the “Magnificat”, all about the hungry being filled with good things and the rich being sent away empty, which some biblical scholars suspect to have been popular among the Zealots, the underground anti-colonial movement of the day. In fact, to the casual bystander, Jesus himself might have sounded much like a Zealot. He would have refused marriage not because he had anything against sex (for Saint Paul, marital love is a sign of the coming kingdom of justice), but because domestic commitments would have impeded his mission to the poor. Footloose popular leaders can’t be bothered with mortgages.

John Barney puts it well, even if with somewhat strange grammar, in the Facebook comments:

and we wonder why? things are the way they are?