Friday, 17 December 2010

Why "Bible Scholarship" has a bad name...

You know the form.

Bible "scholars" doubting the historicity of the Bible claim that such and a place/person/event was just a myth - never really existed or took place.  Because of course the next life is just a myth too...

And then the archaeologists find the supporting evidence that reverses two centuries of the influence of rationalism, and, oh wow, maybe it really did happen like the Bible said.

To protect against this kind of thing, Pope Leo XIII directed that the presumption always be in favour of the accuracy of the Bible:

"In order that all these endeavors and exertions may really prove advantageous to the cause of the Bible, let scholars keep steadfastly to the principles which We have in this Letter laid down. Let them loyally hold that God, the Creator and Ruler of all things, is also the Author of the Scriptures -- and that therefore nothing can be proved either by physical science or archaeology which can really contradict the Scriptures. If, then, apparent contradiction be met with, every effort should be made to remove it. Judicious theologians and commentators should be consulted as to what is the true or most probable meaning of the passage in discussion, and the hostile arguments should be carefully weighed. Even if the difficulty is after all not cleared up and the discrepancy seems to remain, the contest must not be abandoned; truth cannot contradict truth, and we may be sure that some mistake has been made either in the interpretation of the sacred words, or in the polemical discussion itself; and if no such mistake can be detected, we must then suspend judgment for the time being."

So why then is Eureka Street giving uncritical space to  apiece in praise of Greg Jenks, an Anglican "Biblical Scholar" whose agenda is to "bring their religion into line with the latest scholarship in all disciplines, and discard any trappings of their faith that are no longer relevant in the contemporary world."?


Schütz said...

Well, there is "biblical scholarship" and then there is biblical scholarship, Terra. Just because it is an area that has been so dreadfully abused, doesn't mean that we should look down upon the wonderful blessings that it brings. As Vat II said in Dei Verbum "The Sacred Scriptures contain the word of God and since they are inspired really are the word of God; and so the study of the sacred page is, as it were, the soul of sacred theology."

I have just read in "Light of the World" Pope Benedict reflecting on "The Year of St Paul":

"To draw attention to the figure of Paul is to set the gospel before us in its original vitality, simplicity, and radicality, to make it present again."

That needs to be done with the whole of scripture, and authentic Catholic biblical scholarship is needed to do it.

Terra said...

Dear Schutz,

Of course I don't reject all Bible scholarship! Just the particular modernist, heretical variety of it being promoted on Eureka Street!

That said, Verbum Domini eloquently points out the failings of much modern Bible scholarship even of the perfectly orthodox variety, with its excessive preoccupation with linguistic and historical context, and relative neglect of the theological dimension.