I am only one chapter into one of the books for my next grad. class (the book is “The Continuing Conversion of the Church” by Darrell Guder) and am already benefiting from the discussions of this class. For example, if I had read “The Bible itself became a battleground as scholars refined and expanded the newly developed tools of historical and literary criticism” (Guder p. 16) before our class, I would have had no idea what was being talked about. This book has mentioned the Enlightenment’s impact on Biblical interpretation and has mentioned Wellhausen and others that would have meant little to me before. So already, I am better off from our class.
I have really enjoyed reading this book so far. It was been very insightful and thought provoking. I loved the section where he dealt with incarnation stories of the bible. Christ is the most important incarnation story of the bible! Enns hit a home run for me when he talked about the magnitude of Christ in the biblical story. “He is the one in whom Israel’s story reaches its climax… Christ is the final destiny of Israel’s story, and it is to him that the Bible as a whole bears witness,” (110). The title of the book resonated in my mind as I finished reading the chapter. God’s holy word, the scriptures, is built on a foundation of divine inspiration. God’s Word, Jesus Christ, is the ultimate incarnation story of all time. His story, some people refer to as history, is full of God interacting with his people. The beauty of His story is revealed when every part of history collides with the cross.
While reading the historical introduction to Gilgamesh, I was interested to learn that writing was ultimately created due to the need for canals. We are taught in school that writing (sometimes we hear cuneiform) was first used in certain ancient cities, but I’m not sure I ever understood why a written language was needed, or why it was used in some ancient cultures but not others. Learning a little more about the historical aspects surrounding the Gilgamesh story, gives me an even greater appreciation for these ancient cultures and their significance when compared to biblical culture. Likewise, I found the section on the Akkadian cuneiform to be fascinating. Learning Hebrew doesn’t seem so bad, when compared with the idiosyncrasies of the Akkadian language.
When it comes to the flood, I think a comparison can be made between Gilgamesh and the Bible. As stated here, perhaps the reason the Gilgamesh flood was not worldwide was because the people in that place had no knowledge of the rest of the world. I think it is also important to note that while the descriptions of specific events may differ greatly between Gilgamesh and the Bile, the themes are very similar between the two. Aren’t themes more important anyway? Aren’t themes what allow us to say biblical truth exists in literature, movies, other art forms, and in the lives of others? Just a thought…
Before reading the text concerning Jewish Women’s Scholarly Writing on the Bible, I thought it was going to be a lot like reading a Christian woman’s interpretation of the Bible, or a man’s interpretation of a woman’s interpretation and so on…Unfortunately, many of the authors of those articles tend to have an opinion, and then find ways in which the Bible fits that opinion. While this article discussed that somewhat, I found it interesting that the value of Jewish women’s scholarship can be seen in “those works that draw on the creative imagination of the author. These works may fall at or outside the margins of the scholarly world, but as personal reflections that attempt to address contemporary women through ancient texts, they have the potential to reach a general audience that may also be open to a new way of reading the Bible” (2005). I just think this is really neat. Any thoughts?
I’m going to go ahead and comment on Enns’ book, even though I’ll probably end up using some of what I put here in my review. I enjoyed reading it, but like some of you, it took me longer to get through the book than I anticipated, and I’m sure I will reread many of its parts while writing my review.
First of all, I applaud the author’s willingness to address issues that many others would prefer to avoid, and while others may disagree with me, I feel that he does so with a relatively open mind. Like Enns, I agree that “God honors our honest questions,” and in an attempt to create constructive conversation, Enns questions nearly every idea we as Christians grew up with.
On page 13, Enns writes, “these are the “primary readers I envision for this book, those who desire to maintain a vibrant and reverent doctrine of Scripture, but who find it difficult to do so because they find familiar and conventional approaches to newer problems to be unhelpful.” In many ways I am one of these people, and so I appreciated a lot of what Enns had to say. I especially appreciated his explanation of the Bible as the word of God, compared to Christ as the Word. Enns writes, “as Christians we must remember that we believe not only that the Bible is the word of God, but that Christ himself is the word….the Bible is God’s word in written form; Christ is God’s word in human form” (110). While I have known each of these statements to be true, I don’t know if I had ever linked the two before.
Anyways, I thought I would point out some of the things I liked about the book. These are my thoughts thus far, what are yours?
We saw this statue on the Charles Bridge in Prague. This is not meant to be frivolous, but there are some important lessons from history you can learn. We will do this as a class project next week, but your assignment is to translate the Hebrew and explain the significance of this piece of art. You may want to begin by transcribing the Hebrew letters. That’s just the first step. Here is a close-up of the inscription:
Below the crucifixion statue there is an inscription explaining it.
Here is a closeup of the inscription:
The home page may look the same when you come back, but I have been updating some of the other pages. I just added a sub-page under lesson 4 on “The Nature of Biblical Scholarship.” I plan to add one more, an introduction to Wellhausen, this week. You should try to read all of these by Monday. We will be going into more detail on some of these points next week.
I have also added a couple more sites to the “Blogroll.” These are other sites that you should explore, taking full advantage of your free curiosity. They are not “assignments” per se, but they are resources you may find helpful in doing some of your assignments for this class.
In particular, I highly recommend using the site “Codex” (see under “Blogroll” on the right). It has recommendations of commentaries that you will find helpful when writing your research paper. It also has charts that you might want to compare (not copy!) when making your “Bible on One Page.”
See you soon!
The section in Lesson 4 titled “Authorship Issues” really has me thinking. In Mark 7:10, Jesus says, “For Moses said,…’” He was referencing to scriptures in the OT, and those scriptures are Exodus 20:12, Deut. 5:16, Exodus 21:17, and Lev. 20:9. When I first read the three questions I was a little puzzled. After all, Jesus does say Moses said these things, but we can’t be 100% sure who wrote the Torah, and if you take the same stance as Peter Enns, you might believe that maybe when Mark was writing this Gospel he got it wrong or somehow something was lost in translation and Jesus never really meant that Moses himself said these things.
But then I thought about it more and realized Moses did say these things! It doesn’t matter so much WHO wrote it, but that Moses DID say the things that Jesus told the people he said. Jesus never says “Moses wrote these things.” He reminds us of things that Moses said because God was speaking through Him.
I believe that it is very possible that Jesus was teaching that Moses is the author of the Torah. He obviously didn’t feel that it was crucially important for us to know for a fact that Moses wrote it, or He would have said, and it would have been recorded, that Moses was the writer. More importantly, Jesus wanted the people of the day, and all people everywhere to know that He had come to “fulfill [the law and the Prophets].” (Matt. 5:17)
Jesus knew that people were either going to view him as just a Jewish teacher, or they would see him as a heretic that was telling people to abandon the teachings and revelations from God in the OT. But he was impressing on these people that he was neither extreme, but instead he was ushering in a new era, He is the Messiah and Deliverer, but he was not denying the validity and inspiration of the OT, particularly the Torah.
He wanted us to know that these words are important. I think He meant that this history, the words spoken through the Law and the Torah are vital to us because they give us grounding and roots. They connect us to our God who is the same yesterday, today and forever. I think that’s why he said the letters and strokes won’t disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.
I have really enjoyed Enns’ book. There are certainly some areas that I don’t agree. I felt like he spent way too much time on listing the similarities between the babylonian flood myths and the genesis flood account and not enough effort listing the contrasts. However I believe his understanding of the wisdom literature is on point. It seems common place for many evangelicals to quote from the wisdom literature and even use it as doctrine in areas that fit. His premise that the wisdom literature are general statments, although very wise, not statements meant for every situation and for all time makes a lot of sense. I appreciated the contradicting proverbs he listed to substantiate his premise. His emphasis on understanding the bible as it relates to culture I believe frightens the evangelicals. I assume that many threw the book to the flames when he cited Jesus as quoting old testament scripture out of context. Overall the book has refreshed my mind on issues I haven’t thought about for some time and challenged me to understand the culture as it pertains to the audience.
Here is a tip I gave to Niki, when she asked about the review of Inspiration and Incarnation.
The “Critical/Appreciative Review” doesn’t need to be long, a couple of pages is fine. It should include a description and summary of the book. Describe the writing style, purpose, intended audience, etc. Summarize the main point and main arguments. Then do the critical/appreciative part. Point out any weaknesses, omissions, unclear portions, illogical arguments, factual errors, etc-any flaws you can find or areas where you will disagree. Also point out the strengths of the book, its importance and value. Do an objective evaluation, then include your personal response. Conclude by saying who (if anyone) would benefit from this book or suggestions on how it might be used.
I am looking to see that you really read the book; that you understood it; that you understand the implications and importance of the book; and that you give your own evaluation of it.
I should add a couple of points:
- Place the “Facts of Publication” at the top: the information that would go into a footnote or bibliography entry. Include also the number of pages and the price, if available.
- Read a few samples in the Stone-Campbell Journal, available online here; click on one of the reviews highlighted in blue. Hint: The review of Rolf Rendtdorff’s The Canonical Hebrew Bible is relevant to the themes of this course!
No one has asked yet, but you have a “Bible on One Page” assignment due at the end of the week on campus.
Be creative and don’t take “one page” too literally. It is basically some form of visual aid to show how the various books if the Bible fit together; the time period, historical setting, main theme, etc. of each book.
Theories about the dates, authorship, and composition of various books of the Bible vary widely–and you may change your mind on some issues. For now I will say, that the introductions in the JSB pretty much represent the critical consensus of those who teach the bible in an academic setting (e.g. universities). We could call this the critical view. This is often different from the traditional or conservative views which are commonly taught in conservative and evangelical colleges and seminaries and in the textbooks usually used in such institutions. In other words, you probably already own books that present alternatives to the positions represented in the JSB.
One of our goals for this course is to help you understand both the critical views and the conservative alternatives.
My goal is not to indoctrinate you on these issues (because I don’t consider such questions to be matters of doctrine) but to help you understand the evidence on both sides and to make up your own mind. I have no objection to you following the dates and names for authorship, etc., as you find them in other books–just keep in mind we will be discussing alternatives in class.
And, remember to be creative.
I have used this assignment in my class on “Critical Intro to the OT” and have had some interesting results. Some do posters, some make maps, some do art work, some make mobiles or sculptures, some use Power Point.
My wife an I once made a bookshelf to teach the books of the Bible to children. We made little blocks of wood to represent each book of the Bible and arranged them according to the main divisions.
Choose an age group or interest group and setting and create a visual aid you can use to give an overview of the Old Testament. (Since this is an OT class, I don’t require you to include the books of the NT–but if you prefer to show how the OT leads to the NT, that is fine.)