Someone recently posed the question to me:
QUOTE If you believe that the Bible holds no contradictions, i urge you to read through the Skeptics Annotated Bible. For instance: Exd 34:14 For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name [is] Jealous, [is] a jealous God: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 If I speak in the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a tinkling symbol. And if I have prophecy and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And if I dole out all my goods, and if I deliver my body that I may boast but have not love, nothing I am profited. Love is long suffering, love is kind, it is not jealous, love does not boast, it is not inflated. But, God is all-Loving, right? He's Omnibelevolent, right? Jos 24:19 And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he [is] an holy God; he [is] a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. But, i thought the whoel point was to ask for forgiveness? END QUOTE
How should I answer without putting words in God's mouth? And if I say I cannot comprehend the mind/motivation of God, I will most likely get the response 'then how can one be asked to believe in something that makes no sense to him/her?' I can think of quite a few things to say, but I know it's better to think it over before I do, and I'd also like your opinion.
As with many attacks on the Bible, the author of what you quote shows a clear lack of scholarship on his part. A text taken out of context can be made a pretext for just about anything. A bad translation does not make a good argument.
The argument about jealousy is comparing apples to oranges. The passages used contain three different words translated jealousy, and one is improperly so translated. In the Exodus 34 passage a Hebrew word is used that only appears in Exodus and Deuteronomy (and a form of it used in Nahum and the Joshua passage). It means jealous in the sense that God can not abide any rival. His majesty is so great that to put any lesser thing in his place causes a justifiable jealousy. The Greek word used in 1 Corinthians 13 is never properly translated “jealous.” The word is sometimes translated “zealous” which is totally different. In this context it more properly means bubbling over with anger or hatred. The word is not even closely related to the jealousy of Exodus 34. Using “jealous” in this passage is a clear case of mistranslation.
While the Hebrew word for jealousy is used in the passage in Joshua 24:19, the author takes the passage out of its context. He/she asks about the statement about not forgiving, but does not consider either the verses around it or the reference to God being a jealous God. What the passage is saying is that as long as Israel turned from the true God to idols God cannot forgive. Whenever anybody looks to a lesser god rather than the one God who can forgive, God will leave them to their folly. If they turn back to him he will forgive. The passage is only saying he will not forgive sins as long as they are looking to someone else for that forgiveness.
It is not a matter of not comprehending the motivation of God. It is actually that we can comprehend God’s motivation clearly. Even on the purely human level we can comprehend that someone in an exalted position (such as a head of government) is justified in not allowing those under him to show allegiance elsewhere. For instance, the American flag is never dipped to anyone. Most other countries feel the same about their flags.
I have previously looked at the link given. What I found is some of the same sort of thing that you bring up here, as well as some items that rightly call into question some doctrines of denominations when those doctrines really are not scriptural. I also find that the authors of the site seem to be guided not by a love of scholarship but a love of ridicule. In order to ridicule a passage they frequently take it out of its biblical or historical context. In some cases they disregard an obvious meaning to make it appear there is a contradiction which doesn’t really exist. In some cases they even contradict themselves just to make a dubious point.