Friday, 13 September 2013

Thinking about This...

How Do We View the Bible? I wrote in response to the title as below. I've since been issued with a response and challenge and wondering how to respond.

Posted by: Pluralist Monday 2 September 2013 - 01:06am

I have some sympathy for those who complain about selective use of the Bible, but as I can do no other I'm careful as to how I refer to it and do so less and less. It is a variety of writings, but comes within mythology, there is very little indeed that passes the test of history. The New Testament is a document by and for early Churches, and probably in origins without long term intent in the way that the Bible became a continuous canon. In being selective I'm just as likely to use the Gospel of Thomas or others, and indeed happily use the scriptures of other faiths, again selectively, again with caution about selective use that might misrepresent other parts.

Posted by: Roger Hurding Saturday 7 September 2013 - 10:42am

Thanks for your post Pluralist. I certainly respect your use of a wide range of scriptures, including and beyond the so-called canon of Jewish and Christian sacred writings, and understand, too, your doubts about the historical veracity of much in the Bible. These are still hotly disputed areas.

For me, though, I find the metaphorical, literary and historical integrity of scholars like Ellen F Davis of Duke Divintiy School on the OT, and Tom Wright of St Andrews University on the NT, stimulating and, ultimately, convincing.

Posted by: Bowman Sunday 8 September 2013 - 05:05am

Sometime, Adrian, I hope that you will share your view of a bit of text that you find to be 'almost sacred' and how you find it to be so. Your concern about selective misrepresentation of a text surprised me into thinking that I had perhaps, despite all of your efforts, badly misunderstood what you have been trying to say all this time. Let me explain why this was such a surprise.

If you think back on our past conversations-- religions of both Jerusalem and Varanasi; the (in)dependence of ideas and worldviews; the boundaries(lessness) of canons, churches, and the Anglican Communion; the soul's (lack of) a need for community with a stable symbolic system, etc-- I have come away with the impression that you practise and propose a sort of bricollage spirituality, no better nor worse than the practitioner, but certainly entitled to the respect that we owe to any subsistent being that God has endowed with an independent existence, especially one who has really seriously tried to actually be. And I have not thought of persons with that sort of spirituality as caring much at all about a meaning subsistent in a text that is objectively discoverable by those who are not attuned to it.

C17 Quakers, for example, believed that the Truth was in the Bible over against the 'steeplehouses,' but they plainly did not believe that Oxbridge philology could find it. A fortiori in the C19-20, apart from some research by Henry Cadbury, they were almost entirely indifferent to any higher criticism of scripture. For them, the Light was within and nowhere else, and if a tradition mattered to them at all, it was that of 'seasoned' friends testifying to 'younger' friends in meetings, generation after generation.

I have read your own negations of symbols that are still quite vital to others as analogous to that, if even more radical-- to you, I thought, symbols have no integrity of their own, nor referent beyond themselves that makes them meaningful. It's always in the finder, never in the found. So I was surprised to find that you cared how a symbolic text-- even a canonical biblical text-- is represented. Sometime, when you have a chance, help me to understand this.

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