The Bible is not one book, it is a collection of 66 documents, letters, and historical records written by 40 different authors (from fishermen and shepherds to politicians and kings), in three different languages, over a period of 1,600 years. Given this, I would say the word "remarkable" to describe the continuity, harmony, and accuracy of the Bible, would be a great understatement.
Keep in mind that each book of the Bible was written for its own purpose. Law in the Old Testament was mostly directed towards the Israelites - so it would be understandable to find guidelines that wouldn't make sense to the gentiles of the 21st century. However, many instructions (namely, the Ten Commandments), are still greatly applicable, and should be the basic rules which are to be followed. The books of the New Testament I think of as written to everyone, thus finally including the non-Jews. It does not override the OT, but the previous writings become an underscore for the theme of "love" in the NT.
It is extremely important to keep context in mind when reading any book of the Bible. Countless arguments circulate simply because one or both parties refuse to read the "chapter that envelops the verse".
At 8/4/12 12:15 PM, Jmayer20 wrote:
Leviticus's teachings tend to focus on hate and intolerance to other. He says things like "If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads."
Leviticus was a book of law given to the Israelites by Moses. It was probably compiled over a great period of time. Now, homosexuality (sodomy) is a sin in the Bible, and was considered a serious crime by the Israelites. What you should understand is that most actions deserving of capital punishment were so because of the then detrimental result to the people as a whole. In other words, a people chosen by God as essentially the last remaining group without total immorality could not afford to fall into the same, highly damaging behaviors of the gentile nations. For example, accepted witchcraft and idolatry (specifically of foreign gods) would destroy Israel's potential.
While we do not fully understand their culture, the death penalty was an acceptable punishment in those days. Although harsh by today's standards, these laws were not secret. And, I do not reject your notion of intolerance. In defense of Leviticus philosophy, what's seen as wrong (sinful) should NOT be tolerated. Sodomy, among other things, were seen as highly offensive - and, extremely dangerous to the morality and survival of the culture.
I also think it is unfair to single out the Israelites for this. The other ancients of that time (*cough* Assyrians) were far more brutal for things that weren't even laws.