Sunday, July 5, 2009

Chapter -n- Verse

I was having a conversation with a dear friend who, while respecting my views as a Catholic Christian, thinks that the text of the Bible is so hopelessly removed from the original languages and truncated by a patriarchal society that it hard for her to see how truth could be derived from it (Sheri, if this is not your general thinking on this, the fault is mine)

My friend makes some good points.

From Greek to Hebrew and Aramaic to Latin to the vernacular, all filtered down to the interpretation of each translator (all men with few/no exceptions, as far as we know), the Bible has the potential for being a stew of nonsensical ramblings, putting forth a thousand and one different agendas.

I wrote back to her the following:

1- The Bible isn't one book - it's a library. Likely, many of the authors would be horrified at the content of some of their co-authors! Whoever penned Leviticus certainly wasn't of the same thinking as the author of Song of Songs (STEAMY stuff!)
2- The Bible isn't a science book, though it contains elements of science.
3- The Bible isn't a history book, though it contains many historical facts.
4- The Bible isn't a mythology book, although many myths can be found within its pages,
5- The Bible isn't "divine dictation". The authors of the books were regular people, writing in the context of the society in which they lived, warts and all. I as a Catholic Christian believe the INSPIRATION was Divine, not the words that were written.
6- Verses in the Bible, taken of themselves and out of their surrounding context (and usually put into a new context) can be bent to state just about anything. In other words, someone "chapter and versing" you specifically to prove a point in opposition to yours likely has other agendas.

7- What the Bible is...a 3,000+ year old record of a people's GROWING understanding and relationship with their God. No more and certainly no less.

Scriptures (for Jews and Christians) are guidelines to be taken in context with our own prayers and pleadings with God, and in the context of how they speak to us in their own lives. My challenge as a Catholic Christian is to try to discern the INSPIRATION I spoke of before that the writer experienced. Try to read past the necessarily crippled language of the author and get after what the author was trying to convey.

I don't know what she'll think of that response. It does work for me - someone who had many of the same issues with biblical texts at one point.

Peace & All Good,

Daily Mass Readings
Ezekial 2:2-5
Psalm 123:1-4
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
Mark 6:1-6

1 comment:

  1. Wow, great post Tom. Love how you can acccept the inherent flaws in the process, and therefore the text, but still see the divinity behind the words. I did a class not long ago on Jesus and the Goddess, the places where Pagan ideals and beliefs are not so very different from Bibilical ones. Part of that was showing what you said about the "chapter and verse" quotes being misused (and Leviticus is the treasure chest of those!). Thanks for this, and keep up the ministry. If all Christians practiced your approach as a seeker of understanding God, it'd be a lot more peaceful planet. Thanks.