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 Post subject: Why is there so much repetition in the Bible?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 25, 2022 7:43 am 
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Hello all,

In many ancient writings, details are left out and descriptions are kept short because writing materials (both paper and ink) weren't so easily available to everyone.

Apparently, the Bible authors did this too. One example off the top of my head is Acts describing baptism as being "in the name of Jesus" only.
This wasn't discounting Trinitarian baptism but was a matter of efficiency in writing since adding "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" at every mention of baptism would not have been necessary or concise.

In light of this, why is there so much repetition in the Bible? And so many obscure details?
    - For example, why are the specific measurements of every part of the ark of the covenant's construction or the temple added?
    - The book of Chronicles is somewhat like a summary of many books (first 10 chapters or so are geneologies we've already read in other books. It also goes through the story of Saul, David etc. again).
    - Most of Acts 7 includes a recounting of the story of Joseph, Moses, the Exodus.
    - The Gospels have many of the same miracles, parables or teachings of Christ (perhaps the Gospels repeating things makes a bit more sense since they may not have known others were being written and/or they were unsure if these accounts would get to Christians due to persecution so they would include what they thought was important or what was being orally taught).

Thanks all.


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 Post subject: Re: Why is there so much repetition in the Bible?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 25, 2022 8:38 am 
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As you say, ancient authors may have been unaware of others writing on the same matters. But there are other reasons -- parts of the Bible were originally composed orally (Genesis, for example) and handed down by word of mouth. Redactors (those who wrote the stories down) found different versions, and tended to incorporate all versions (Noah loads the Ark with two of each beast -- then loads it with two of each unclean beast and seven pairs of each clean beast.)

Repetition and recapitulation were standard techniques in those days -- Jesus tells us the Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed, like a man who had two sons, and so on -- telling us the same thing from different points of view.


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 Post subject: Re: Why is there so much repetition in the Bible?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2023 3:45 pm 
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I have two ideas. One could be that because these stories were transmitted orally, repetition was necessary. Transmitting stories through song and poetry was a huge aspect of culture. Another aspect of repetition in the Bible is the kind used for poetry.


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 Post subject: Re: Why is there so much repetition in the Bible?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2023 8:33 pm 
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Repetition of the same stories, with different details provided every time, was widespread in the ancient world. It is especially common in ancient writings from the Ancient Near East. Ever read the Epic of Gilgamesh? Or the writings of Homer? This frequent repetition was done to make things easier to memorize, and easier to recite. The formal term for this is "parallelism", this is a feature common to Hebrew writing, and it is especially common in Hebrew poetry, hence the Psalms ware filled with parallelism.

Parallelism is also common even in the modern world, especially in poetry. Ever read Dylan Thomas?

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


Or consider a simple nursery rhyme

Old King Cole was a merry old soul, and a merry old soul was he


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 Post subject: Re: Why is there so much repetition in the Bible?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2023 3:03 pm 
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Have you ever raised kids or been married? We repeat things over and over in relationships, in teaching how to tie shoes or how much we love each other. That is how the human mind learns things.


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