Thursday, October 29, 2009


NOTE: The entry below does NOT mean that I simply accept what the Bible says without thinking, asking hard questions, etc. It means simply that my assumptions change. Instead of assuming if something doesn't make sense that it must just be something that applies only to the ancient world, or assuming that Paul, Isaiah, David, or whoever didn't know enough to address the issue, my assumption becomes that this is God's word and I need to keep digging to learn to understand and apply it. Part of that digging is asking hard questions, having the hard wrestling matches with God. But I don't stand over the Bible to judge which parts of it are valid and which are not.

I was in a class in seminary where one of those questions came up. We were dealing with an unpleasant text in Genesis, studying under a professor who was well known as one who subscribed to what is known as "source criticism" -- that is, you try to figure out who wrote something, where it came from, how it was edited or changed in the process, etc., and then you can critique how it may or may not apply today. In effect what happens is often that source criticism dismisses a lot of texts because they've been changed, edited, etc. (Or at least that is the source critic's assumption.) A student in this class put forth a theory about the text, stating how it had probably been edited and borrowed from another, older text and how the unpleasant details had probably been added in for a particular agenda of the editor's. The effect of the student's argument was that this text should not be read in all its unpleasantness.

The professor surprised us all by answering, "That might be, but it's still in the book. It's in the Bible, wherever it came from, and you have to deal with it." I gained a lot of respect for that professor that day.

No comments:

Post a Comment