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rgoode
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2007 2:13 pm    Post subject: Who owns the Bible? Reply with quote #57

One of the questions which is rumbling away under the 'Role of Faith in Bible Study' thread is one that was posed to me as an undergrad: Who's Bible is it? Does it belong (in terms of interpretation and use) to the Church or to the University? Who has the more accurate understanding of it, someone who believes in God or someone who has studied it for forty years in its orignial languages?

Its a fairly crucial question and one to which I don't feel I have a lot to say at the moment, but about which I certainly have a lot to learn. I would be really grateful if you could pass on your thoughts about this.


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ickthoos



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2007 9:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote #59

I think the question is in many ways a false antithesis, an unfortunate product of some of post enlightenment. The church needs the academy and the academy needs the church. It's the academy's job to help the church understand the bible in all it's fullness, not just the precise nuance of this or that Greek work or some grammatical idiom, but also the politics, aims, motivations, and thought world of Jesus, Paul, the disciples and the early church. Without a solid historical understanding of these figures the church will always be in danger of constructing it's own Jesus who happens to fit their currently ideology. This was perhaps most sharply seen in Germany during Hitler’s reign but can be seen locally across the board in almost any denomination.

On the other had the academy needs the church to be able to take their work, listen respectfully to, and respond appropriately in accordance with their confessions. This entail offering critiques when the academy comes up with wild ideas about who Jesus was such as the seminars Jesus was a wondering quasi cynic itinerant preacher who resembles Gnosticism more then confessional Christianity. I think it was NT Wright who said that for a while the joke was that the seminar's Jesus may have just as well been killed in a random camel crossing accident on his way to Jerusalem one day as opposed to the cross. Along with critiquing, the churches listening and responding to the academy should also involve looking seriously at its current practices and praxis and revising them in creative way so as to more efficiently and effectively announce and implement Jesus’ lordship over all of creation.

Perhaps Paul's illustration of the body helps sum up my thoughts better then anything. The hand can't say to the eye it doesn't need it, and likewise the eye can't say it doesn't need the hand. But the eye can and should say, "hand, you keep getting yourself into trouble doing this or that" and likewise the hand needs to be able to say, "eye you need to rethink what you're doing, you keep taking us into troublesome spots."

Unfortunately the dialogue has often been more of a destructive dialogue then a mutually beneficial dialogue. A large part of the critical movement was conceived as an attempt to discredit Christianity, I'm thinking specifically of Wrede, Remarius, Stauss and others of the old quest. The new quest seemed just as fruitless (the seminar could rightly be classified as part of the new quest, perhaps the renewed new quest). This has in turn led to the rise of fundamentalism which is in a continual state of reaction against the sort of scholarship that plagued the post-enlightenment period up to the present time. Fundamentalism, in its reaction to liberal scholarship had to embrace a dualistic worldview where academic knowledge was split from faith. Faith then became largely a secret sort of non-rational knowledge that happened apart from the intellectual processes. It's at this point that I stop and laugh because while the academic liberals, and fundamentalists have taken seemingly opposite routes, they both ended up in the same spot with a Gnosticized Jesus who has only some, and in some cases very little, resemblance to the historical Jesus.

In looking for a better dialogue I've often found NT Wright to be one of the best on the subject, both in the way he's lived his life with a foot in the academy and a foot in the church continually resisting the forces on each side that wants to tear the two apart, and in his writing which are academically responsible, while supporting and encouraging, even critiquing and stimulating a deeper more responsible faith. I think this is the way forward for both the church and the academy. The church can't get along without tackling the serious questions about who Jesus was and is and engaging in critical self reflection, and neither can the academy go on with the smug arrogance that has often characterized it. Instead the two will have to work toward and build a mutually beneficial dialogue so that interpretation and use aren't split in a very disastrous way.

-Craig


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rgoode
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2007 11:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote #63

Having said that I do not want to say too much on this subject, but would rather listen to other people's views, I must just say thanks for your thoughtful response and I am heartened by your sentiments.

You are prefectly correct, my initial question is, to some extent, a false antithesis - however, it does appear to reflect the real politik (so to speak) in which we find ourselves. There is often an element of defensiveness on both sides. For good or ill we do share different perspectives and although there will be areas of disagreement, I am convinced that it can also be higly productive and positive for both communities.

I like your (Paul's) body analogy, but wonder if we are actually one body (or am I being too literal?). Tom Wright is a case in point. I have a lot of respect for him and the way that he engages the church with the questions and issues raised in the academy. However he does appear to be a special case. As you say, he attempts to keep his feet in both camps. I, however, have both feet in only one camp. Moreover, speaking from within the academy, I suspect that the degree to which Tom is successful in his 'straddling' is open to some debate (but not in this thread Wink ).

Like you, I totally agree that, (with patience. perseverence and sensitivity) a coming together is of equal importance to both groups. The purpose and meaning of Syneidon is that by sharing together what we see from our different perspectives, we can then begin to understand the whole picture.


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Quaestor



Joined: 25 Jun 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2007 1:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote #65

I don't in any way wish to contribute more heat than light to this discussion, but I feel I must take issue with Craig's post. I am currently reading a fascinating little book published by the Home University Library of Modern Knowledge in 1914 entitled "Religious development between the old and the new Testaments" by R.H.Charles.
It is a study of the Jewish apocalyptic literature of the two centuries before the birth of Jesus and the first century AD. It is very easy to see from this book how the Messianic aspirations of the Jews changed over this period and Charles sets out the development.
I seriously question whether Craig has ever explored this area of development in Jewish religious thought, but if he has I should be happy to know his thinking on the subject.
Dennis


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ickthoos



Joined: 09 Jul 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2007 5:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote #66

Dennis,

I'm not sure how your post relates to the topic or takes issue with my original post, but I do know a bit about the intertestament second temple period and would be happy to share some thoughts, though I confess my knowledge of this period is small but growing, and any attempt to represent the complex religious/political nature of the period is going to result in some large oversimplifications. Perhaps if you could elaborate on where you're taking issue with my post I could focus my discussion some?

I would agree that there is serious developing of Jewish though in this period. The Macabeaen overthrow of Antiochus IV Epiphanes put the Hasmoneans in power and eventual roman rule provide two of the main catalysts in my understanding. The Essense as represented in qumran had some messianic aspiration as they separated themselves from the rest of Israel. I think its safe to say they weren't happy with the current priesthood and rulers of Israel and took the route of waiting on God to justify them overthrowing the current leadership and pagan rule. I believe it was the Essenes that I was reading about this morning who may have cherished a two figure messianic expectation, one king and one priest, but I'll have to look up the reference on that.

The Pharisees represent something of a middle ground grabbing onto and holding in tension both a free will and deterministic position. God would act and they were going to be ready to do their part when the time came. They had some revolutionary tendencies that tended to flare up when times were more favorable for an overthrow, and tended to recede when circumstances were less favorable. These revolutionary tendencies tended to look back at and gain energy from the Macabeaen revolution, so it’s not surprising that the Pharisees held onto a strong resurrection belief. I'm not sure that the Pharisees had any one or particurally defined messianic expectation, but there were probably a variety of expectations and thoughts which were eventually crushed in 135 AD.

The Sadducees, being the ruling class, didn't have messianic aspirations, and tended to take a free will line of thinking, God helps those who help themselves. Being the ruling class there was no reason to want a messianic figure or figures to step in and take away the power they held onto. The case in point comes when looking at their views of resurrection, they emphatically denied the resurrection, largely because resurrection was a revolutionary doctrine at the time.

Now as to how all of this is represented in the Jewish apocalyptic literature at the time I'm really not certain, it isn't something that I've at all studied in any sort of detail. My guess would be that something of its represented in the apocalyptic literature, but it would depend on which group is doing the writing. I would tend to guess that a group more like the Essenes or the Pharisees would be doing the writing since apocalyptic tends to be the literature of the oppressed. But that's really just speculation.

-Craig


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ickthoos



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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2007 7:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote #67

rgoode,

I do agree with you that the faith and knowledge split is a real politik (british spelling?) and a sad reality. As my post indicated, it's a reality which I believe needs strongly to be address and I'm excited and enthusiastic to see sites like this springing up to help address the problem.

I see your point with my appropriation of Paul's analogy, and like all analogies it has its breaking point, I think though it does help illustrate the interdependence that the church and the academy have, whether or not they could in all individual cases be said to belong to the same body in the sense that Paul uses the metaphor, and whether or not they both want to be in bed together so to speak.

Perhaps an analogous illustration will paint the question in a new light and give an interesting avenue to my thinking. Who has a better understanding of Mozart? Someone who has studied him in his historical context, knows his motivations, and politics, has analyzed his symphonies through and through, or someone who has spent years playing Mozart’s music, living and breathing every note and movement?

-Craig


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Quaestor



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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2007 9:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote #68

I am pleased to see from your post Craig that you value entering into the thought world of Jesus. Since apocalyptic eschatology is very much a Galilean development and this was the theological world that Jesus was heavily involved in, my only point is that without a profound knowledge of the development of the intertestamental Jewish religious literature during the two centuries before the birth of Jesus, it is impossible to see his teaching in its true context. To say that the Seminar' s Jesus was a quasi cynic itinerant preacher who resembles Gnosticism more than confessional Christianity is to summarise their work in a way which is far from how I recognize it. I don't see a great deal of difference between their picture of Jesus and that of Geza Vermes and as far as I am aware his picture of Jesus contains no Gnosticism whatever.
As we are all very human, there must assuredly be many times, when we find things which are uncongenial in our intellectual opponents. I could well for example, label fundamentalists as obscurantist, but that would no more advance the discussion than to label academics as smug and arrogant. I think it is only fair that unless we have concrete proof to the contrary, we should always treat our opponents as acting from the highest motives. .
Dennis


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rgoode
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2007 8:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote #69

Thanks Craig,
I think you've hit the nail right on the head with the Mozart illustration.

Sorry about the 'politik' - no it's not a British spelling, it's just that I can't work the italics for 'real politik'.

I am glad you also feel what we're doing is important and look forward to exploring all these issues with you in the future.

Richard


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True54Blue



Joined: 21 Jun 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 19, 2007 12:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote #78

Richard,

You asked whether or not someone has a better understanding if they have (mere) belief or have a deep knowledge of Greek and Hebrew. Craig talked about this being a false antithesis and although I do not think that N.T. Wright is a one-off it is true that many Christians seem content with belief rather than 40 years of Greek and Hebrew. Mark A. Noll's The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind or Os Guinness, Fit Bodies, Fat Minds: Why Evangelicals Don't Think and What to Do About It are two examples of Evangelicals addressing this issue. That said, there are thousands of Evangelicals who have PhD's and write and teach at the highest levels of academia. The problem is that many in academia would exclude those who believe the Bible from being serious academics regardless of how much Greek and Hebrew they know. Being unbelievers themselves they cannot take seriously anyone who accepts the Bible as divinely inspired.

To answer your question - God "owns" the Bible. It identifies itself as his Word: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” 2 Tim 3:16f. Those who do not believe will disregard this statement but it is taken as true by believers. They believe it and seek to live it out, seeking to do "every good work." The academy can help them to understand the 5 W's of this but it cannot empower them to do every good work. This is something that can only be accomplished through the power of God and His Spirit.

I hope this helps and isn't too convoluted Smile
Tom


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Quaestor



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PostPosted: Thu Jul 19, 2007 6:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote #82

I have no wish to start world War three, but I cannot refrain from commenting on this subject. If the Bible is meant to be a blueprint for action in this world and the message has been encapsulated in the Bible by an omniscient omnipotent being, surely he would have avoided such a blatant error as is encapsulated in Matthew 16;28.
I fully subscribe to Mary Boyce's dictum that "It was out of a Judaism enriched by five centuries of contact with Zoroastrianism that Christianity arose in the Parthian period". Intertestamental Judaism was deeply imbued with Zoroastrian apocalyptic eschatology and Jesus clearly expected the kingdom of God to be established within his lifetime. He cannot be held responsible for what Saul of Tarsus did after his death since Saul of Tarsus never quotes him and seems totally unaware of the things Jesus said.
Given that Christianity holds itself out to to be a universal religion and applies its moral imperatives to each and everyone of us I have no difficulty in maintaining that it belongs to the unbeliever as much as to the believer since the individual is part of the polity and the polity is necessarily political therefore Christianity inevitably intrudes on the political arena. Believers must therefore not complain if their beliefs are attacked since those same beliefs impinge on the freedom of unbelievers.
Dennis


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johnhambidge



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2007 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote #124

I worship in a tradition that uses the statement ‘This is the word of the Lord’ after readings from the scriptures. Depending on who is reading, this can often come over as ‘THIS is the word of the Lord’ or ‘This IS the word of the Lord’. These two words that so often receive emphasis are both absent from the Latin equivalent ‘Verbum Dei’ which indicates an encounter with God’s word that can be a question as much as a statement. Amongst English speaking Roman Catholics this is translated simply as ‘The word of the Lord’ which I find much more acceptable than the version which begins ‘This is ..’, even if neither of these words receives emphasis.
It surely needs no argument to make the case that there are many passages in the scriptures which, taken out of a wider context, are very far from being ‘the word of the Lord’.
When I was doing some work on Deuteronomy last year it became very apparent that the book contained a number of different ‘voices’, not all of which were ‘the Lord’s’. Within a framework of the narrator’s words, the great bulk of Deuteronomy is said to have been spoken by Moses on the plains of Moab on the eve of Israel’s push into the land of promise, albeit no longer with Moses as leader. Within these words attributed to Moses there are several times words that the Lord is said to have spoken to Moses, pre-eminently in the giving of the decalogue, although even here the first person address which we find in 5:6-10 gives way to the third person by v.11. Only towards the end of the book does the narrator present us with words which he tells us the Lord spoke to Moses (31:14, 16-21; 32:49-52; 34:4) and, on one occasion (31:23), to Joshua. When Moses speaks he not only sometimes says what the Lord had said to him, but also occasionally says what the people had said to him and what he had replied to the people. It can hardly make much sense to maintain that the words the narrator addresses to the reader, the words the narrator attributes to Moses, and Moses in turn to the Lord or to the people, are all equally the word of the Lord on a par with words which the narrator himself tells us are the Lord’s.
John


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Quaestor



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2007 7:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote #125

There is a full page article on page 3 of today's Guardian regarding the visit by Richard Dawkins to America where he is spearheading a campaign to challenge the dominance of religion in everyday life and in politics, insisting that the millions of US godless deserve to be heard too. It is clear to me therefore that the Bible belongs neither to the community of faith, nor to the University but is a matter of importance throughout the world, even in those countries which are not nominally Christian, just as the Koran is now important elsewhere than in Muslim countries. Since ideas impact on politics, the sources of those ideas even if they are matters of faith are as relevant to unbelievers as to believers.
Dennis


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