Friday, October 07, 2005

The things that you're liable to read in the Bible

It ain't necessarily so

“We should not expect to find in Scripture full scientific accuracy or complete historical precision,”

The only surprise in that statement is that it comes from the Catholic bishops of England, Wales and Scotland. According to a story in the Oct 5th London Times, a new teaching document, The Gift of Scripture states that he Bible is true in passages relating to human salvation,  but continues: “We should not expect total accuracy from the Bible in other, secular matters.”

In marked contrast to the war on modern scholarship of Pius X in the late 19th century we have a Church position on the first 11 chapters of Genesis that recognizes the two conflicting narratives and that much of it has been cribbed from other religions. The new teaching has been issued as part of the 40th anniversary celebrations of Dei Verbum, the Second Vatican Council document explaining the place of Scripture in revelation. Coming as it does, at a time when the most advanced nation on earth, or so we like to call it, is rejecting science, reason and objective scholarship in a way reminiscent of the Roman Catholic Church’s inquisition and persecution of scientists, Jews and heretics in the 16th and 17th centuries, this American reader confesses to being stunned.  Of course it was Augustine of Hippo (354-430)  who wrote: “We must be on our guard against giving interpretations which are hazardous or opposed to science, and so exposing the word of God to the ridicule of unbelievers” (De Genesi ad litteram) but that idea is quite lost on America’s Christian Right.

The Fundamentalist approach, we are warned, has significant dangers

“for example, when people of one nation or group see in the Bible a mandate for their own superiority, and even consider themselves permitted by the Bible to use violence against others.”

The Bishops say, for instance, that the infamous anti-Jewish “blood libel” in Matthew (27:25)  Stems from first century quarrels between Jews and Jewish Christians and has no application in our time.

Who would have thought?
The things that you're liableTo read in the Bible,It ain't necessarily so.


Crankyboy said...

But that God created the heavens and the earth and everything in 6 days and the ark and the flood and stoning people to death for violating the sabbath and being allowed to sell your daughter into slavery and killing your mother for planting two different kinds of crops side by side and death for throwing a football made out of pigskin...that's all true right?

Capt. Fogg said...

Only the selling your daughter into slavery part. I still think I should have got a better price.