Saturday, May 3, 2008

College Thoughts


This term at college, we have started studying the Old Testament. It is not a topic I had been looking forward to as the Old Testament is a hard book, unless you are the sort of Christian who takes it literally and then your life is easy: you simply don’t have to engage your intellect at all. I am not that sort of Christian. I remember some O.T. studies from my undergraduate course and rather hoped I might have exemption. No such luck.

However, much to my surprise I am having a blast! My tutor has been bought in by the college and has a reputation as an O.T. scholar in his own right. We are using a text by Walter Brueggermann, an American academic and Biblicist, and I have discovered that I am not alone in my views – in fact that my views are mainstream and not at all radical.

I like this.

Let me quote: “What we have in the O.T, rather than reportage, is a sustained memory that has been filtered through many generations of interpretive processes, with many interpreters imposing certain theological intentionalities on a memory that continues to be reformulated.” More simply put, the Biblical storyline does not closely reflect the lived experience of historical Israel. The Biblical text does not purport to be “history” in any modern sense of the term.

The relationship between history and the formation of the Canon of Old Testament writing is complex of course, but the process of that relationship is the work of TRADITION as parents tell and retell to children and grandchildren down the generations as “imaginative remembering”.

He goes on to say “Current scholarship is in a quite sceptical mood: on the one hand (serious) scholars increasingly judge the “historical” claim of the Old Testament to be mostly unreliable and unprovable and often unlikely. On the other hand, scholars recognise that the texts are loaded with ideological freight so that they can not be trusted as reliable. The recognition of these critical judgements is important and warns against making irresponsible claims for the text.”

Happy me!

What do you think?