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miles
07-04-2008, 05:39 PM
A big part of my novel involves a religious sect which strictly follows Old Testament laws. This goes right down to animal sacrifices, stoning for adultery, children put to death for disrespecting parents, strict observance of the Sabbath, even women being labeled as unclean during their menstrual period (laws from Exodus 21-Deuteronomy 32)

I'm fairly certain there are no religions which still strictly follow all of these laws, but I'd like to make it a radical sect of an existing religion. So which religion comes closest in today's world?

Help if you know. Thanks!

Sean D. Schaffer
07-04-2008, 06:42 PM
A big part of my novel involves a religious sect which strictly follows Old Testament laws. This goes right down to animal sacrifices, stoning for adultery, children put to death for disrespecting parents, strict observance of the Sabbath, even women being labeled as unclean during their menstrual period (laws from Exodus 21-Deuteronomy 32)

I'm fairly certain there are no religions which still strictly follow all of these laws, but I'd like to make it a radical sect of an existing religion. So which religion comes closest in today's world?

Help if you know. Thanks!


Some cults might fit the bill for you. Perhaps a fictitious cult leader on the same vein as Jim Jones or the like, could be used. I know a lot of Christian denominations believe very adamantly in the following of Old Testament laws as a way of righteousness, so you could get an offshoot of one of those.

I myself was raised Baptist, and for about ten years I went to one Baptist church that was rather extreme in its adherence to the Old Testament laws to the point its congregants and leadership would condemn people who did not fit what they thought exemplified righteousness.

Also, there's a guy named Phelps that seems fairly extreme about some parts of the scenario you're talking about. You could look him up and see if his extremism would fit your novel (Fred Phelps, if I'm not mistaken).

I would be wary of trying to go with a strictly Old Testament religion, however, simply because many sects of those religions are tempered with reason and less reliance on the emotions to make decisions. I hate to say it, my being Christian and all, but I've seen plenty more of the extremists in some form of Christian denominations or cults than I have in strictly Old Testament religions.

I hope this helps. Best wishes to you.

miles
07-04-2008, 07:07 PM
Thanks for your answer.

From the research I've done since posting this question, it seems Judaism follows the Old Testament strictest (they call it Tanakh).

Although I wouldn't use a Judaism sect for this book, I'm still curious: if the Tanakh is the Jewish bible, how come the laws of Moses are no longer strictly followed?

Sean D. Schaffer
07-04-2008, 07:23 PM
Thanks for your answer.

From the research I've done since posting this question, it seems Judaism follows the Old Testament strictest (they call it Tanakh).

Although I wouldn't use a Judaism sect for this book, I'm still curious: if the Tanakh is the Jewish bible, how come the laws of Moses are no longer stickily followed?

The thing with Judaism is, it has a lot more structure than some of the extremist religions I alluded to. I was involved for about ten months in the Noahide movement, which is taught to Gentiles by Orthodox Rabbis... or so I read on one of the Noahide sites I used to frequent. They don't follow the teachings of Moses so fully anymore, because many are looking for the Messiah to come and re-institute the laws of Moses. I read a book entitled The Rainbow Covenant, which touched on this. Also, in one of my Tanakhs, (the one I have is spelled slightly different: Tanach) the commentary mentions what the world will be like when the Messiah comes back. Part of the new order it talks about refers to a new adherence throughout the world to the Torah (the five books of Moses). The Tanach I'm referring to is called The Stone Edition, and is presented by Mesorah Publications Ltd.

But the Noahide traditions as I read about them, did not have to do with stoning or uncleanness, etc., the way you mentioned. They dealt more with life in our present-day society. Although they taught me a new respect and love for God's Word, I don't remember them being extremist in their interpretations of the Tanakh. I only know they love the Word and did their best to follow it in the context of what is acceptable by today's standards.

Pretty much, those I have seen follow the Tanakh more close to the letter, are either the Christian denominations or the cults. This is why I gave the suggestion I did. I've seen both sides of the picture, and all my conclusions come from what I've seen. :o

In any case, I wish you the very best with your manuscript, and have a wonderful Friday. :)

Sean D. Schaffer
07-04-2008, 08:11 PM
Miles, I just thought of something that might help you out a bit.

Try using an Independent church or cult. One thing I remember about the Baptist church I attended for ten years, was that they prided themselves in being Independent. This way, they answered only to God and therefore, not to a denomination or to a church board. They were thus able to teach whatever they wanted to, and treat their congregants accordingly.

From what I've seen, most Old Testament extremisms come from people who have no accountability to a higher human authority, who turn around and abuse their power. When someone claims they are the only right Christians, for example, and all others who worship Jesus differently are going to Hell, that's a pretty decent sign of using fear to control others. If this is what they're doing, then they can coerce their people into doing all manner of things that the Old Testament talks about, and doing them in an exactly literal manner that can be very destructive for people around them.

When I mentioned Judaism and the Noahides a moment ago, what I was trying to get at was that they have accountability to higher human authority, and thus would not be, in my opinion, suitable for a religion going off the deep end.

If you want to go with a more Jewish sect that would fit the bill you're talking about, I'm thinking maybe the Essenes or some other people who are fiercely independent or perhaps stay away from society in general. If they're not accountable to a higher human authority, but only to the Bible, then the abuses can run rampant in such a sect.

I'm sorry I didn't think of this before, and I hope this helps you out. Have a good day. :)

miles
07-04-2008, 08:20 PM
Thanks for the answers. I'll take some time to think about it and hopefully come up with the best answer to fit the story and characters.

Have a good day too (although it's Saturday morning where I am).

Izunya
07-04-2008, 09:16 PM
When I mentioned Judaism and the Noahides a moment ago, what I was trying to get at was that they have accountability to higher human authority, and thus would not be, in my opinion, suitable for a religion going off the deep end.

Not to mention that the Jews have had, quite literally, thousands of years to examine those rules and decide what they mean. I once had an opportunity to look through a rabbi-annotated version of Leviticus, for instance. From that point of view, the bit about letting people glean your fields has little to do with actually picking up grain and everything to do with feeding the poor. Or that bit where a father gets to kill a disrespectful son? According to the footnotes (which were more extensive than the text, IIRC) children were considered property in many societies back then, and the revolutionary bit was requiring the father to bring his case before the entire town. In other words: "You want to do this thing? Fine. You can do it if, and only if, you're willing to air all your dirty laundry in front of your peers, to be civil when Uncle Benjamin says things like, 'You ask me, the boy's right, you are a half-wit stick-in-the-mud,' and accept the verdict of the town at large." According to the footnotes, there was no record of anyone actually being killed under this law.

Now, you could say that mercy and charity were the original intention of those laws, or you could say that over the years, Judaism as a whole has chosen the most palatable interpretations. Depends on what you believe, I guess. But either way, I think there's a lot of traditional weight behind those interpretations.

Um, in other words, I agree with Sean about Judaism and not going off the deep end. Rather long-winded way of saying it, I guess . . . :gone:

Izunya

KCathy
07-04-2008, 09:55 PM
An important part of understanding the laws of Moses is that they were intended as part of a government and a religion, not just a religion. Rules that seem harsh when taken out of that context and applied to personal life, such as "an eye for an eye," make much more sense as a system of governmental justice. Even in the Torah, the highest laws were to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself.

Also, their government was patriarchal and used a system of judges decided by tribe (clan) and, in later years, chosen by kings. Their entire way of life, as a predominately agrarian society frequently attacked by raiding neighboring kingdoms, was based on following the laws of your tribal leaders, grandfather, and father.

This wasn't a matter of shooting your teenager for smarting off about a cell phone bill. It was more like prolonged rebellion with potentially lethal effects for the rest of society. A terrible monster parent couldn't just wrongly kill a disappointing child. Not only did there have to be witnesses, but the method of execution implied community agreement with the severity of the rebellion. You can't stone a person to death all by yourself.

So a law that seems horrifying to someone in our society, killing a child for disrespect, was a law to protect their society from chaos, complete with a pretty serious set of checks and balances to prevent abuse.

Another thing that's important to realize is that their laws were established in a time when bathing wasn't that big a deal, and people had very little understanding of germs or the spread of disease. Many of their laws about things like ritual cleansing and separation from the "unclean" were very effective plague-fighting tactics. The kind of thing you'd expect, incidentally, if you were positing a God. But I digress.

I barely know anything about ancient Judaic law, though, even having grown up in a Bible banging church. I would contact a local Rabbi and respectfully request his help. Most religious leaders are happy to talk about what sets their faith apart, especially if that means helping a writer get things right and not spread common misconceptions.

Good luck! It sounds like it will be an entertaining read.

RAMHALite
07-05-2008, 04:50 AM
From the research I've done since posting this question, it seems Judaism follows the Old Testament strictest (they call it Tanakh).

Although I wouldn't use a Judaism sect for this book, I'm still curious: if the Tanakh is the Jewish bible, how come the laws of Moses are no longer strictly followed?

Animal sacrifice stopped with the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE. Judaism developed a decentralized, synagogue, form of worship in which, according to some religious authorities, an additional portion of the prayer service, called Mussaf, substitutes for animal sacrifice. Orthodox Judaism (including only approx. 10% of Jews) still observes the original restrictions associated with menstruation, including ritual purification each month at the end of the cycle through bathing at a special facility called a mikvah.

Stoning for offenses such as violating the rules of the sabbath, adultery, or violating kosher food laws is a very ancient practice. No one in the Jewish community has been stoned to death for eating a shrimp in quite a while.

The most notorious principle of Mosaic law, the lex talionis, or "an eye for an eye," has been clarified through centiries of religious commentary to mean compensation to make the injured person whole, not revenge-justice. If your neighbor knocks out your tooth, you want the court to force him/her to pay your dental bills, not to have the defendant be forced to let you knock out his/her tooth.

If you're looking for a contemporary example of strict, literal observance of O.T. laws, you probably can't do better than the LDS spinoff sect in Texas that had their minor children removed recently because of child sexual abuse and other concerns.

BTW, Tanakh is an acronym for Torah (first five books of O.T.), Navi'im (Prophets), and Ketubim (Writings).

HTH,

RAMHALite

Tsu Dho Nimh
07-05-2008, 05:27 AM
If you invented a sect that - without the benefit of centuries of rabbinical footnotes - decided to follow the OT explicitly, you would have an interesting group.

miles
07-05-2008, 09:58 AM
Thanks everyone. As far as the novel is concerned, I'm glad to know such a group doesn't exist. That should make it more interesting to the readers.

donroc
07-05-2008, 03:12 PM
Observant Jews refer to the OT as Scripture because they do not consider the NT as such.

Kathie Freeman
07-05-2008, 07:40 PM
If you invented a sect that - without the benefit of centuries of rabbinical footnotes - decided to follow the OT explicitly, you would have an interesting group.

Also a small one.

Menyanthana
07-06-2008, 12:14 AM
Not to mention that the Jews have had, quite literally, thousands of years to examine those rules and decide what they mean. I once had an opportunity to look through a rabbi-annotated version of Leviticus, for instance.

Where can one find this? It sounds interesting, although I am afraid I will never be able to write an happyend for my strictly Christian, Old Testament following (as far as he is able to) character anyway. ;)

girlyswot
07-07-2008, 02:28 AM
Someone recently wrote a book about their experience of trying to keep all the OT law for a year. I can't remember what it was called I'm afraid, but it might be useful to you if you can find it.

Sean D. Schaffer
07-07-2008, 02:45 AM
Where can one find this? It sounds interesting, although I am afraid I will never be able to write an happyend for my strictly Christian, Old Testament following (as far as he is able to) character anyway. ;)


I don't know about an annotated version of Leviticus by itself, but I do know where you can get an annotated version of the entire Tanach. I believe I mentioned it further upthread, The Stone Edition by Mesorah Publications Ltd. I got mine from the local Barnes & Noble.

You might be able to find a good annotated Torah (The first five books of the Bible) at B&N as well. I've seen some pretty thick versions of the Torah, some thicker than my copy of the Tanach. As Leviticus is part of the Torah, that might be a good way to go. It would be in the Religion - Judaica section, if I remember correctly.

Have a good day, and I hope this helps you out. :)

joetrain
07-07-2008, 02:55 AM
theonomists try to follow old testament law in principle. theonomy has almost become a modern denomination of the protestant church, but theonomist churches are typically presbyterian in my experience. from what i know, they try to apply o.t. law in principle, not necessarily by the letter (i.e. they don't stone anyone, but the one's i've met seemed to want to). but there are many laws they apply by letter and many more they'd like to if they had society's blessing. your fictional sect could be derived from a group of unsatisfied theonomists who wanted something more "pure."

MattW
07-07-2008, 06:31 AM
Someone recently wrote a book about their experience of trying to keep all the OT law for a year. I can't remember what it was called I'm afraid, but it might be useful to you if you can find it.
http://www.ajjacobs.com/books/yolb.asp

The rules he followed. (http://www.ajjacobs.com/books/yolb.asp?id=rules)


MOST BAFFLING RULES TO THE 21ST CENTURY MIND

If you are in a fistfight with another man, and his wife grabs your private parts, you "shall cut off her hand." (Deuteronomy 45:11-12). Another rule you won't find engraved outside many courthouses.

If you suspect your wife is cheating, you shall bring her to a priest, who will mix a potion of barley, water, and dust, which the woman shall drink. If she's cheating, her stomach will swell. (Numbers 5:11-20).

If you set your slave free after six years, but he decides to stay, then you shall bring him to the doorpost and bore a hole in his ear. (Exodus 21:5).

Menyanthana
07-08-2008, 01:08 AM
http://www.ajjacobs.com/books/yolb.asp

The rules he followed. (http://www.ajjacobs.com/books/yolb.asp?id=rules)


That's really cool. I would like to try it, but...

You should not lie on a bed where a mensturating woman has lain, and you can't sit on a chair where she has sat (Leviticus 15:20).

It is impossible!

Izunya
07-08-2008, 07:44 AM
Where can one find this? It sounds interesting, although I am afraid I will never be able to write an happyend for my strictly Christian, Old Testament following (as far as he is able to) character anyway. ;)

Well, I'm afraid I mis-spoke (mis-wrote?) it wasn't just Leviticus, it was the whole Tanach. I just focused on Leviticus because that's the bit of the Bible that has always made the least sense to me, and it was fascinating to see how the various bits fit into a working society.

As for where I found it . . . er. Well. I was at a friend's Bat Mitzvah. And since my knowledge of Hebrew is limited to, "Um, that's the one without vowels in, isn't it?" I paid attention during the English bits and read surrepititiously surepitiously surrepe . . . I looked through the book during the Hebrew bits and tried to be discreet about it.

(Good. Lord. I need sleep. Happily, I now have a new sleep apnea mask, which means that I might actually get some high-quality sleeping in, as opposed to just quantity. You know what, I'll see all you guys in the morning.)

Izunya

Sean D. Schaffer
07-08-2008, 06:28 PM
On a side note, one thing I like about the Tanach (Tanakh) copies I've had over the last year or two, is that they place Hebrew on one side and English on the other side, kind of like a parallel Bible. I've always thought that feature was cool. :) When I was a Noahide, I wanted to take some time to learn Hebrew. I still do want to do that, because like so many people like to point out, reading the Bible in its original language is an experience that can bring new life to its meanings. To be able to read for myself the original text in its original context, would be helpful to my understanding the Scriptures and thus, being a little more solid in my obedience to its ways. :)

JamieFord
07-08-2008, 06:43 PM
Check out the Essenes. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essenes) Seems similar to what you're looking for. Perhaps they could be a restored order based on that archetype.

Higgins
07-08-2008, 08:07 PM
A big part of my novel involves a religious sect which strictly follows Old Testament laws. This goes right down to animal sacrifices, stoning for adultery, children put to death for disrespecting parents, strict observance of the Sabbath, even women being labeled as unclean during their menstrual period (laws from Exodus 21-Deuteronomy 32)

I'm fairly certain there are no religions which still strictly follow all of these laws, but I'd like to make it a radical sect of an existing religion. So which religion comes closest in today's world?

Help if you know. Thanks!

Hmmm...I don't know, but without the Temple there's no "Old Testament Religion"...So what do they do about actually worshipping Jehovah? How do they follow laws that require Temple Priests? How do they supervise their water supplies? How do they perform sacrifices?

Or do they just wait for the Romans to straighten out their administrative problems? Those guys in the Red Suits aren't coming back and I don't mean multiple Santa Clauses and not this Christmas or ever.

IceCreamEmpress
07-08-2008, 08:55 PM
That's really cool. I would like to try it, but...

You should not lie on a bed where a mensturating woman has lain, and you can't sit on a chair where she has sat (Leviticus 15:20).

It is impossible!

The "you" in this context is a man, not a woman. And millions of Orthodox Jews have accomplished this for thousands of years, at least in their homes and synagogues.

Sean D. Schaffer
07-08-2008, 09:42 PM
Hmmm...I don't know, but without the Temple there's no "Old Testament Religion"...So what do they do about actually worshipping Jehovah? How do they follow laws that require Temple Priests? How do they supervise their water supplies? How do they perform sacrifices?

Or do they just wait for the Romans to straighten out their administrative problems? Those guys in the Red Suits aren't coming back and I don't mean multiple Santa Clauses and not this Christmas or ever.


*CoughTabernacleCough*

Seriously, though, I would imagine the rabbis and the sages know the Scriptures just a tad bit better than most of us would. I've read my ENGLISH Bible through one time. They've read the ORIGINAL over and over again, making sure they understand every last word of it. :) I'm not saying their religion is right or wrong; I'm just saying that if the Jewish People are worshipping God in Synagogues, they're not doing it out of disobedience to their Torah; their rabbis and sages happen to understand the Scripture a heck of a lot better than most of us do.

Higgins
07-08-2008, 10:20 PM
*CoughTabernacleCough*

Seriously, though, I would imagine the rabbis and the sages know the Scriptures just a tad bit better than most of us would. I've read my ENGLISH Bible through one time. They've read the ORIGINAL over and over again, making sure they understand every last word of it. :) I'm not saying their religion is right or wrong; I'm just saying that if the Jewish People are worshipping God in Synagogues, they're not doing it out of disobedience to their Torah; their rabbis and sages happen to understand the Scripture a heck of a lot better than most of us do.

Yes, but it's not exactly an Old Testament religion. The very idea of an "Old testament" is a anachronism of a rather odd kind. If it applies to anything it has to apply to the period of the Second Temple since nobody is quite sure about the social world of the First Temple. We know that in fact in the world of the Second Temple the death penalties for religious infractions such as adultery were almost never applied because there were functioning religious bodies to take care of such religious problems.

Sarpedon
07-08-2008, 10:46 PM
The "you" in this context is a man, not a woman. And millions of Orthodox Jews have accomplished this for thousands of years, at least in their homes and synagogues.

So if you bump into a woman on the bus, do you have to ask her if she's mensturating so you know whether you are unclean or not?