When one thinks of fundamentalism, one most likely thinks of violence, preaching and a literal interpretation of scripture. But to what extent does scripture play a role in fundamentalist ideology? In this essay, therefore, I shall focus primarily on Islamic and Christian fundamentalism and their sacred texts – the Quran and the Bible. I will illustrate how religion and ideology are conjoined with one another when exploring fundamentalism. I will also address the question why do fundamentalists select particular passages from their chosen scripture and declare them as “decisive authority” (Lawrence 1995: p. 60)? Ultimately, I will critically examine what Islamic and Christian fundamentalist ideology entails and how their scriptures play a role, and how it underpins their ideology.
The Bible is a highly influential book but should it be if it is regarded as ‘patriarchal’? Stereotypically women are viewed as the weaker sex because supposedly they are responsible for household chores and the looking after of children. However, men are viewed as stronger because they are responsible for providing for the family. Is the Bible to blame for this? Is this due to the Bible being ‘patriarchal’? The Bible has so much influence over the world, for example some construct their moral and ethical codes around it (Barton 2010). The Bible is so deeply ingrained in Western psyche that people are able to use it to justify the inferiority of women due to its divine authority and inerrancy (Davies 2013). Is this okay? It is the 21st Century, surely humanity has developed to be able to treat men and women as equals, to treat them both with equal respect, without having to refer to a book written hundreds of years ago by predominately male authors. Therefore, the purpose of this essay is to critically discuss the Bible’s patriarchal nature, with reference to its non-patriarchal characteristics to make a grounded and balanced argument as to determine the extent of the Bible as a ‘patriarchal’ book.
The miracles that Jesus performed are found in the Gospels of the New Testament. The events have been termed ‘miracles’ due to a number of reasons, including the definition of what a miracle is by notable people. Saint Thomas Aquinas stated that a miracle is “beyond the order commonly observed in nature”. Similarly, to David Hume who famously defined a miracle as “a violation of the laws of nature”. Out of all the subjects related to Jesus, his miracles are the one topic that has presented the most problems for readers in recent centuries. Many people, including some Christians, have found it hard to believe that the alleged miracles actually took place. However, nonetheless, the teachings of Jesus still come across loud and clear. We tend to extract the meanings and teachings behind the miracles against the background of the Old Testament. This aims to show how the prophecies were fulfilled by Jesus, and how the long awaited kingdom had arrived through him (Drane 1999). It is necessary to understand the miracles in this frame of reference.
Nietzsche was critical of the Christian religion, so it is perhaps surprising to find lengthy passages in his work placing Jesus in a positive light but this can be explained. As claimed by Nietzsche, Christianity is founded upon the ressentiment of Saint Paul, a mix of bad conscience and resentment. Christ is an invention of Saint Paul. He used Jesus of Nazareth, a historical figure, as a scapegoat for our sinful nature to avoid us from taking responsibility for our own lives. The Pauline Christ encourages people to approach life with a will to truth. Whereas, Jesus of Nazareth approached his life with a will to power. Jesus displayed virtues that Nietzsche praised. One could say that the doctrine is the enemy of Nietzsche, rather than Jesus himself, Jesus the man – Jesus the Jew (Kee 1999: p. 144).
The Ten Commandments are found twice in the Old Testament, once in Exodus 20: 1-17 and another time in Deuteronomy 5: 6-21. They are known together as the Decalogue. They differ slightly but primarily mean the same. The Ten Commandments, or the “Ten Words” in Jewish tradition, were given by Moses at Mount Sinai, they were the words of God. They were intended to tell the people of Israel on how they should live as a society, but as a result they have had a huge influential impact on the world. They play a fundamental role in Christianity and they have influenced laws and morals from the ancient world to the modern day. I am going to discuss the ethical implications of the Decalogue from a historical perspective, predominantly from the view of the ancient world such as Ancient Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt and Ancient Israel.