Daily Archives: 2010-06-20 22:12:04 UTC

The pseudo-scholarly “hermeneutics of charity”

No, Tommy!

No, Tommy!

Mantra #1 (from 17+ mantras of biblical scholarship)

Any narrative which purports, on the face of it, to be telling about events that actually happened deserves to be treated as true unless it can be demonstrated not to be.

Rational alternative

Withhold judgement about the truth of any narrative until one has evidence to decide either way.

Discussion

This reminds me of Dieter Georgi’s observation that I noted in How Jesus has been re-imaged:

The reversal of the principle of burden of proof in favor of those who claimed authenticity of material that was obviously and thoroughly shaped by faith in the continued presence of Jesus after his death did not happen by way of methodological argument but by way of decree.

It is not a sin to say “I don’t know” pending evidence that allows one to decide either way. I suspect that biblical scholars who mouth this mantra are really only interested in applying it to the certain selected biblical literature. read more »

Which “Bone” Was Eve Made From?

Bawdy BibleThe creation and Adam and Eve narratives are often said to be nice moral tales that convey spiritual truths. Being myth does not disqualify them from containing meaningful messages for modern readers.

So at wedding ceremonies and in sunday school classes bible-believers are regaled with the “beautiful story” of the God practising a bit of psychic surgery as his hand penetrates Adam’s side to pull out a rib which he used to create Eve. And since this story is not something that has been uncovered in modern times among cuneiform tablets alongside myths of sea-monsters and sky-gods, but is one we have been as familiar with as our soft pillows and teddy bear toys since childhood, we call it a “beautiful metaphor” of the marriage relationship.

And I suspect many theologians would prefer to keep it that way. Meaningful myth or symbol is sophisticated. Literal images of God taking the penis bone from Adam and using it to create Eve, thus explaining both marriage and the reason males of humans alone (almost) lack this bit of anatomy would probably go a long way to discrediting not only a “beautiful and meaningful story”, but opening up a few more people’s minds to the irrelevance of the Bible in an enlightened age.

I’m probably the last to know this little tidbit of trivia, but thanks to chance I recently discovere in a bookshop The Uncensored Bible: The Bawdy and Naughty Bits of the Good Book by John Kaltner, Stephen L. McKenzie and Joel Kilpatrick. John Shelby Spong calls it “a terrific book!”; Jonathan Kirsch, “smart, savvy, scholarly, and funny, all at once”; and Jonathan Reed, “Based on the best contemporary scholarship of the Bible — but funny as hell!” How could I resist it?

Which “Bone” Was Eve Made From?

So what’s wrong with the rib meaning the rib? read more »