According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Biblical History is Actually Biblical Story Telling in the Bible


Herodotus (c. 484 BC – c. 425 BC)

As far as I know, the Greek writer Heredotus was the world's first true historian who attempted to arrange history into historical accounts. But when reading Heredotus one finds out very quickly that his historical accounts might not quite add up to what actually happened during or before his time. In fact, we discover that Heredotus is really good at telling the same story in many different ways as audiences listened to his recounts. As he spoke, if he detected interest in one area more than another he would dive into that area to enlarge its script.

This is what made Heredotus a very good story teller. He went with the audience's interests. I would think the ancient biblical stories were told in similar fashion. As stories... not as histories. Why? Because remember, Heredotus in 450 BC was the first to attempt to give historical accounts of history and as you know (or maybe you don't) much of the Old Testament is earlier than 450 BC. And so, it is for us to glean what the biblical story teller is trying to tell us behind the story he is telling.

In reference to the article below, I thank Mr. Enn's for his perspicuity. Well done Peter!

R.E. Slater
February 9, 2019


* * * * * * * * * * * *




A Quick Word About How Genealogies
in the Bible Aren’t “History”

by Peter Enns


If you clicked on this post—what is wrong with you? Step back for a moment and think about it: you clicked on a post about genealogies! Seriously. Go find something to do.

If you’re still here, thanks for hanging around. Just promise me later today you’ll do something for yourself: take a walk outside, chase squirrels, talk to a human being, anything.

Anyway.

When the topic turns to Genesis 1-11, namely whether or not these chapters are “historical,” people will often kindly tolerate me as I go on and on (and on) about how those chapters aren’t really historical accounts but something else. Pick your word: metaphor, symbol, myth, legend, or whatever. Frankly, after you take “history” off the table, it doesn’t matter what you call it.

But sooner or later someone will ask, “But what about the genealogies in chapters 4, 5, 10, and 11? These aren’t stories of talking serpents or magic trees, but a record of names. Surely, this is a clear sign that the author intended to write history, not fiction. ”

Perhaps. And don’t call me Shirley.
The truth is, the appearance of names in a list does not mean we are reading “history.”

As tedious as it may sound, sit down one day and make a side-by-side list of the names (yes, you heard me) in 4:17-26 and 5:1-32. Commentaries and some study Bibles will correctly tell you that these genealogies are parallel (cover the same ground) but are not identical. These are two traditions that the editor of Genesis decided to keep, even though including them side-by-side like this is a blatant assault our modern notions of what history writing is supposed to look like (the nerve).

A second genealogical pair is found in 10:1-32 and 11:10-26. They are less parallel than the first pair, but they do cover some of the same ground and differently. (They also give two different accounts for the spread of humanity after the Flood, but I digress.)

Even Jesus has 2 genealogies that do not square up: Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-28. They are not completely different—they overlap a lot—but they are also significantly different.

Almost as if they did this on purpose. Which they did.

In fact, it’s the differences that help us see the different theological purposes of the Gospel writers.

Without getting longwinded, Matthew’s genealogy, divided into 3 neat segments of 14, goes back to Abraham and portrays Jesus as the king of David’s line who will bring an end to Israel’s exile. Luke’s genealogy overlaps with many of Matthew’s names, but is much longer and connects Jesus back to “Adam, Son of God,” perhaps to present “Jesus, Son of God” as a second Adam. (Note that the next scene in chapter 4 shows Jesus successfully resisting the devil’s temptation, unlike the first Adam’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden.)

I am not saying that genealogies are all automatically fabrications, devoid of any sort of historical memory. I actually think that is not the case. Some no doubt have genuine historical value in our sense of the word, but the degree of historicity in the genealogies is up for discussion on a case by case basis.

My bigger point here, however, is that seeing how genealogies behave takes off the table the common assumption that genealogies place us safely (whew) on historical ground and are indications of the writer’s intention to write history and so we should accept them as such.
But, frankly, we have no earthly idea what ancient writers intended, nor do we know what “historical” would have meant to them.

But whatever the writers were after exactly, the inconvenient presence of parallel genealogies is, ironically for some, biblical proof that their conception of “historical” differs markedly from ours.

Taking a step further back, the parallel genealogies are simply examples of a general pattern in the Bible for writing about the past: the inclusion of more than one version—like the 2 “accounts” of Israel’s monarchy (books of Samuel/kings and the books of Chronicles) and of Jesus’s life (4 Gospels).

The biblical writers were not “historians” writing “accounts” of the past. They were storytellers accessing past tradition to say something about their present. That includes genealogies.

Genealogies in the ancient world were not examples of a plain and simple, just the bare fact, recording of the objective past. They were—like the Bible’s handling of the past in general—creative retellings of the past where the line between history and fiction are blurred and often for us difficult, if not impossible, to discern.

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