Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Old Testament

"The historical Jesus has a different category of sins from that of the Old Testament or of Paul or of ecclesiastical writers after him. The sins which occupied the attention of Jesus were hypocrisy, wordliness, intolerance, and selfishness. The sins which occupy the principal attention of the Church… are impurity, murder, the drinking of alcohol, swearing, the neglect of the Church’s services and ordinances." - Robert Keable

"It is precisely in the Old Testament that is reached the highest ethical note ever yet sounded... by man." - Israel Zangwill

"Among most Christians the Old Testament is little read in comparison to the New Testament. Furthermore, much of what is read is often distorted by prejudice. Frequently the Old Testament is believed to express exclusively the principles of justice and revenge, in contrast to the New Testament, which represents those of love and mercy; even the sentence, "Love your neighbor as yourself,” is thought by many to derive from the New, not the Old Testament. Or the Old Testament is believed to have been written exclusively in the spirit of narrow nationalism and to contain nothing of supranational universalism so characteristic of the New Testament." - Erich Fromm, fully Erich Seligmann Fromm

" The problem with those who choose received Authority over fact and logic is how they choose which part of Authority to obey. The Bible famously contradicts itself at many points (I have never understood why any Christian would choose the Old Testament over the New), and the Koran can be read as a wonderfully compassionate and humanistic document. Which suggests that the problem of fundamentalism lies not with authority, but with ourselves." - Molly Ivins, fully Mary Tyler "Molly" Ivins

"The God of the Old Testament himself, with his pitilessly vengeful jealousy, his racism, sexism, and terrifying bloodlust, will not be adopted as a literal role model by anybody you or I would wish to know. Yes, of course it is unfair to judge the customs of an earlier era by the enlightened standards of our own. But that is precisely my point! Evidently, we have some alternative source of ultimate moral conviction that overrides Scripture when it suits us." - Richard Dawkins

"The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully." - Richard Dawkins

"I have long recognized the theory and aesthetic of such comprehensive display: show everything and incite wonder by sheer variety. But I had never realized how powerfully the decor of a cabinet museum can promote this goal until I saw the Dublin [Natural History Museum] fixtures redone right… The exuberance is all of one piece—organic and architectural. I write this essay to offer my warmest congratulations to the Dublin Museum for choosing preservation—a decision not only scientifically right, but also ethically sound and decidedly courageous. The avant-garde is not an exclusive locus of courage; a principled stand within a reconstituted rear unit may call down just as much ridicule and demand equal fortitude. Crowds do not always rush off in admirable or defendable directions." - Stephan Jay Gould

"But though every created thing is, in this sense, a mystery, the word mystery cannot be applied to moral truth, any more than obscurity can be applied to light... Mystery is the antagonist of truth. It is a fog of human invention that obscures truth, and represents it in distortion. Truth never envelops itself in mystery, and the mystery in which it is at any time enveloped is the work of its antagonist, and never of itself." - Thomas Paine

"So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt. (v. Io) It is of immense importance that the most difficult, most dangerous task in emancipation is not undertaken by YHWH as divine deliverance. Rather, emancipation is a human task to be undertaken amid the risky problematics of Pharaoh's political reality. The mission of Moses is nothing less than the confrontation of political power that no longer has anything of a human face. More than that, Moses' mandate is to confront exploitative economic power that is understood to be an embodiment of false theology,..." - Walter Brueggemann

"All through the centuries, scholars and scientists have been imprisoned, tortured and burned alive for some discovery which seemed to conflict with a petty text of Scripture. Surely the immutable laws of the universe can teach more impressive and exalted lessons than the holy books of all the religions on earth." - Elizabeth Cady Stanton

"If to be means to exist the way nature does, then everything which is given as refractory to the categories and to the mode of existence of nature will, as such, have no objectivity and will be, a priori and unavoidably, reduced to something natural." - Emmanuel Lévinas , originally Emanuelis Lévinas

"But I am the real Strider, fortunately. I am Aragorn son of Arathorn; and if by life or death I can save you, I will." - J. R. R. Tolkien, fully John Ronald Reuel Tolkien