Friday, April 4, 2008

Starting Again

I've xanga-ed, I've facebooked, I've even MySpaced, so now it's blogspot time. Here I am, adding my thoughts and contemplations to the masses of people doing that same thing. It's a good outlet for the confusion I have coursing through my brain most days. It also helps that I do very little at my job. =)

Enough of the "intro"; let's get on with it. Our first topic: Inspiration of Scripture. Yes, that's right, I'm bustin' out the theological conversations. I'm not a scholar by any stretch of the imagination (just ask any of my college profs) nor do I spend a lot of time reading about histories of interp (although I wish I did). Suffice it to say, this won't be at all scholarly or as eloquent as some of the bloggers out there, but its been on my mind and heart the last couple years generally and the last couple of days specfically. So I bring this conversation to you and I hope that maybe your voice will help me sort out the muddle of my own.

In college I majored in Biblical Studies, which, even though not a marketable skill at all, I loved (almost) every second of it. Even though I loved it and loved learning and can't think of anything else I would have wanted to spend 4 years studying, it cost me no end of frustrations. At least twice, I almost recanted Jesus and walked away completely. Virgin Birth? No. Bodily resurrection? Nope. Rapture? A little. =) But mostly it was the "inconsistencies" I read in the Scriptures. During my Hebrews and General Epistles class and saw that the author of Hebrews re-interpreted the Masoretic text, I 'bout fell off my chair. Was the author being opportunistic with scripture?! What gave him/her (cause we all know it could be Priscilla) the right to mess with the MT? Granted, I have a bias towards the Hebrew text overagainst the Greek Septuagint. And don't worry, I know all the arguments for how the LXX is more reliable than the MT...blah, blah, blah. Still, I was so bothered by that. So bothered, in fact, that I met with both my Old and New Testament professors to ask them how they dealt with reading the original languages of the text yet believed in inspiration of Scriptures if they've been messed with. And it's not just Hebrew to Greek and back; it's Hebrew to Greek to Latin to English to Chinese to Portugese. There is no way to get a "literal" translation in any other language. The words can't cross over like that. And it frustrated me to the point of wanting to give up.
However, I need you to understand that I'm saying all this about inspiration, not about the effect of the Scriptures on people. I have been deeply and dramatically affected/effected by Scripture. I believe Heb. 4.12: "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." And I also believe 2 Tim. 3.16-17: All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."
I can anticipate your question already...."how can you doubt inspiration of scripture and then turn around and say that 2 Tim 3. 16 is true? For that matter, how can you say that any part of scripture is true?" And the answer to that is....I don't know. I feel like I'm caught in this weird place of belief and doubt and I don't know how to reconcile it. No idea. It's hard enough for it to be in my brain, much less express it aloud. It's like I know the answer - just believe that it's completely inspired by God and quit doubting, but my brain can't let it go. I know all the apologetic arguments for the Bible and they make sense. And I believe that God made Scripture useful for all people, even though it was written for a certain people, with a certain focus, for a certain time. God still uses it to penetrate us today and throughout all of time.
If I believe these things, then why do I doubt it? Why do I argue for the side of errancy when in the conversation? Perhaps it's not the topic....perhaps I just like to be on the opposite side. Because when I talk to non-believers, I'm on the side of inerrancy, bringing out the apologetical info I can muster. Maybe I'm just majorly screwed up in my brain. Not that far of a stretch, I suppose.

This old heart's been left out on my sleeve
And I have paid as it's been rent unto pieces
Seems everyone I've loved has taken a bit of my insides
I'm scattered as the woman whose body was torn for the twelve tribes

When did my heart get so petrified
When did it get so hard to feel
When did my heart get so afraid to love
When did it get so hard

And the easy-living Gnostic proud
Use their knowledge
Like a wreaking ball to tear me down
Flooding me with their fallacies
I can't walk on this water
I'm starting to drown

Strike this rock with your rod
I'll take the blows
Till your living water begins to flow
As it flowed from the Man of Sorrows' side
On that day when his body
Was torn for the twelve tribes
Torn for the twelve tribes

-"Petrified Heart" by Caedmon's Call

1 comment:

Matt said...

Sister, i feel compelled to comment on your blog for two reasons: 1- no one else has, thus i must make you feel loved at all costs and as well, i want to be the first one TO blog on you. 2- i know how you felt when you went thru the HGE crisis of belief and i have some light-shedding to do (hopefully). So without further ado, i proceed thusly.

I gained a good bit of knowledge about inspiration/transmission of scripture from the Greer-Heard lectures in New Orleans this year. Dr. Wallace made some good points contra Bart Ehrman (the devil...? j/k). Ehrman throws out all the popular arguments against scripture's "otherness": if God inspired scripture, how come he couldn't perform the miracle of transmission?, thus leading into arguments of, We have nearly 400,000 manuscripts which have been altered more times than we have words in the New Testament, thus how can we know what the original autographs said (because of course, only the autographs would be inspired)? And Wallace makes the very convincing argument that though there are this many alterations in the New Testament mss, 99.99999% of them have absolutely NO bearing on the actual meaning of the text (spelling errors and the like)...And for that .00000001% that does have a significant impact on the actual meaning of the text (thus possibly altering the meaning of the original autograph), scholars can study the various texts and determine what the most likely intention would have been.

Now, that being said, you also made reference to the author of Hebrews taking his (for we know that it must have been Apollos ;) ) liberties with the Masoretic Text. Slightly different idea than the one I've been discussing above. Well, I would say that we need to look at BOTH the MT and the LXX and compare them with what we have in the Greek mss of Hebrews; in addition, it is important to go back and look at the ways in which early Christians and even Jews of late antiquity hermeneuticized (yes i did just make that a verb) texts w/in (and possibly out of) their context in order to make a point. I'm sure we will see that they were in much different ways than out Enlightenment Western thinking would concede possible. Just some thoughts to think about.

Loves, your brother.