Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Eras of Thinking

OT112 is my intro to the old testament class. it is quickly becoming a favorite. i really enjoy my theology class but this one is just awesome! it's amazing what a huge load of impressions and biases we bring when we read the hebrew bible.

Val asks me every Sunday "what was the fav. thing you learned this week?!" and then listens to me babble (much like you are reading this babble dear reader). either by loving and wonderful sister is really interested or she's really good a faking but i don't really care because it's a nice question and it shows that she supports me and is at least interested.. or has the courtesy to fake interest ;-)

so here's my favorite brain candy from last week! i learned about the three eras of biblical interpretation/philosophical thought.

before we start some would claim that the bible is a self-interpreting book. if that was so we'd have no ministers nor seminaries nor commentaries or arguments about the bible. the bible always had to be intrepreted. here's how:

1.)Pre-Modern Thought cira 100 c.e.
scriptures have multiple levels of meaning and there's no one way to do it but the bottom line is that all scripture is good to and supports the church.
Famous Dudes: Augustine, Origen

2.) The Enlightenment Modernism peak at 1600-1700s c.e.
bible is a rational book. Spinoza summed it up best with "Things happened in natural laws. what is contrary to nature is contray to reason. anything contrary was added by irreligious hands." adds the natural and social sciences into the study of the bible. period where the historical/literary criticisms develop. this periods thought belives TRUTH is an independent entity, just see the famous literature written at this time... the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

"The modern mind assumes that knowledge is certain, objective, and good. in principle, knowledge is accessible to the human mind" -Stanley Grenz

3.) Post-Modern 1940s-present
"Morning after Modern" people are no longer convinced that knowledge is inherently good and the universe is not mechanistic. reality is realitive, indeterminate, and participatory. Quantum Physics= everything is realitive.

so this was pretty cool way of looking at how the bible has been thought of and how humanity has come along in it's thinking. this also leads into the very nature of the Bible... is it a codebook (i.e. literal) or casebook (i.e. open ended). there is an article i read that argues that it's a casebook. a codebook requires precision, example from construction: one build-to-code, exact no straying from it. a casebook requires reflection and application. i take this stance as a casebook can take a series of examples and reflect a variety of responses under varied circumstances. it is this open-ended application that makes the bible such a holy book and such a long lasting tool for people.

this also leads to the very nature of the bible.. is it a history or collection of stories to help an exiled people define their identity? more on this later!

1 comment:

Jim Dwight said...

Hey Luke, While people still clinging to modernity, based on Cartesian metaphysics and Newtoninan phyics that the universe is inherently ordered and predictable, I think that you can delve a bit deeper into postmodernist thinking. Perhaps the term poststructuralism works even better than postmodernism in that the old ordered structures are human creations, not divine creations. In other words, humanity changes what God means as the primum moblium or prime mover, the primary universal structure and structurer, every so often. God doesn't change per se, but humanity's understanding does. Is there a pantheon of many superhuman gods; is there one God for Israel and others for the Assyrians, Greeks, and Babalonians; is there a supreme Chruch supported by the blood of the martyrs, the Bible, and the tradition of faith; is there a God absolutely revealed through the scriptures if one reads the holy word appropriately, are there multiple and co-existent forms of worshipping the Divinity in multiple, but not contradictory, manifestations. Derrida compelled us to see these historical and local shifts in foundational metaphysics. Foucault has asked us to investigate how cultures discipline and punish adherents and heretics alike by incorporating institutional structures into our experiences as essence. Hence, our experiences become our essence, but we believe these distilled experiences are an innate, a priori essence. Barthes urges us to see human as a modern logical construct of empowerment for some and disempowerment for others. So God from a poststrutalist perspective must be dynamic like the universe as revealed in Hisenburg's Theory of Uncertainity and Theory of Einstein's General Realativity. God is not relative -- whatever we make it to be (this is a typical straw-man argument against a relative Divinity) -- but relational. We affect God's being as an on-going, evolving, and dynamic existence who essence comes from interactions with the cosmos, including all of creation. In studying the Bible then, we see a book inspired by God as Creator, yet manufactured through langauge and human subjectivity -- relationships among beings and human artifacts (langauge, oral, aural, written, etc...) so that the Bible is what Bakhtin called a heteroglossia -- a collection of many voices. If we then add in that the text is a relation among God, the writers, the readers, and their cultures, we have a truly dynamic, not a static, vision for divinity. This is NOT to say that God is whatever we make it to be, but that God is all things and in all things. In this respect, we can begin to see that we have subjective and culturally informed lens that we can and should investigate to see that God is out there and in here, but that God cannot be limited. We can consequently investigate how humans have twisted the words of God to oppress their neighbors instead of loving them.