Isis, you are pretty brave to start at the beginning and read it all the way through - there are some shocking stories to be sure.
It may be misleading to think of it as a moral guide, certainly most biblical scholars or theologians wouldn't think of it that way.
For the most part the bible is descriptive rather than prescriptive, that is to say that it describes what did happen rather than prescribes what should happen. The story of Lot is not suggesting that this is what you should do with your daughter but rather what he did. The context is that wives and daughters were seen as nothing more than possessions to do with as you wish, while strangers accepting your hospitality must be protected at all costs. I believe this idea of hospitality is still important in some cultures.
The interesting thing about scripture is that it pulls no punches, it tells the story of people without trying to glorify them, they are pictured with warts and all.
The whole sacrificial system is difficult to understand as well. Some of Israel's prophets speak on behalf of God and say 'I don't want your sacrifices - I want mercy and justice (ie proper treatment of other people)'. Sacrifice ended with the destruction of the temple in AD70 or 70CE as we now say.
For Christians, and all the early Christians were Jews (they didn't see themselves as starting a new religion, they continued to worship in the temple), the whole story gets reinterpreted around Jesus. Jesus does away with all the food laws (Mark 7), Jesus refuses to stone a woman caught in adultery and says that anyone without sin should throw the first stone (John
. For Christians God is understood through Jesus who is the 'ikon' or the image of the invisible God. This is why the doctrine of the incarnation is so important - that which is transcendent and unknowable becomes knowable because he took human form and appeared in the flesh (John1).
Varese, what interests me about Derrida is his sustained critique of rationalism and his so called 'ethical turn' which he picked up from Levinas where the primary concern is our ethical duty toward the other. Derrida in deconstruction is always opening up alternative readings paying attention to the marginalized, the oppressed (ie the Algerian Jew), which would also give a clue to how I read the scriptures. Derrida also paid a lot of attention to St Augustine's Confessions later in his life and wrote/talked about prayer and praying.
The figures for Christians killed are all out there if you do a simple google search, 45 million is the estimate last century.
You are right that Hitler probably never read or understood N. but N.s ideas were used/misused.
I'm not sure the Christian meta-narrative is anti-semitic. Undoubtedly some Christians have been anti-semitic but I don't think it is part of the Christian story per se, the Jews seem to have encountered hatred wherever they went.
I guess your argument for atheistic ethical values would tell me there are no foundations - rather it is an agreement, a consensus between people in the culture. That agreement will change from pace to place and time to time. Of course, Hitler's final solution could be seen as an example of a consensus of the German people about what was good for their society.
If there is no God then yes, there is no foundation, it is all speculation. That is why it is faith. I make no claims to absolute knowledge. There are some well founded historical facts but it will largely come down to a decision of faith on the part of the individual.
I would much prefer to sit over a coffee or beer and talk about things like this, this really isn't the best way
Here's a text from the Bible about religion. It's taken from James 1:27 (NIV):
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
If you think that's mental illness we'll probably never see eye to eye