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Theology Crawl: “Biblical” Substances

Theology Crawl: “Biblical” Substances

Welcome to the Crawl

Before you start, make sure someone gives The Spiel to your group.  Also, remember these conversation tips: 1) Be polite, and don’t take offense, 2) Say something if you don’t understand, 3) Ask “why” and speak up if you disagree (It’s not rude, it’s just a good conversation). Now, order a drink and start unpacking the deep mysteries of the universe!

The Big Question: The Bible never mentions Mary Jane, Jack Daniels, or Alice, is there a “biblical” way to use these substances?

The Main Questions

  • What is a “drug”? How is the term technically defined? How is it popularly defined?
  • Is drug use a moral issue? Why or why not?
  • What drugs are mentioned in the Bible? How is their use discussed?
  • Look at the list of common types of recreational drugs below and answer the following questions:
    • What drugs are you surprised to find categorized together? Why is it surprising?
    • Is the nature of how a drug affects the human body an ethical issue (ie. does it morally matter how a drug specifically affects your body?)
    • How are drug use and drug abuse distinguishable in the various kinds of drugs listed? Is the demarcation between use and abuse always the same?
  • What other ideas or moral principles in the Bible should inform how drugs are used? Where do you find these ideas in the text? (Hint: some scriptures provided below)
  • Working as a group, try to establish a Biblically informed approach to the following drugs: cocaine, marijuana, LSD, alcohol, tobacco. Use the following questions to help form this approach.
    • What does this drug do when taken?
    • What could be the relational ramifications of taking this drug?
    • How would the effects of this drug interact with my attempt to follow Christ?
    • Should this drug be taken? If so, under what circumstances? If not, why?

COMMON TYPES OF RECREATIONAL DRUGS*

  • Stimulants // drugs that impact the body’s central nervous system, causing the user to feel as if they are “speeding up.” These drugs increase the user’s level of alertness, pumping up heart rate, blood pressure, breathing and blood glucose levels. Doctors primarily prescribe stimulants for ADHD, narcolepsy and asthma. Examples: Caffeine, Ecstasy, Cocaine, Ritalin

  • Depressants // drugs that impact the body’s central nervous system, causing the user to feel as if things are “slowing down.” Doctors prescribe some depressants for anxiety, insomnia, obsessive-compulsive disorder and other medical issues that prevent the sufferer from fully relaxing. Examples: Xanax, Valium, Alcohol
    Hallucinogens // drugs that work by disrupting communication within the brain. Users report intense, rapidly shifting emotions and perceptions of things that aren’t really there. Examples: Peyote, LSD, Salvia

  • Dissociatives // drugs that work by interfering with the brain’s receptors for the chemical glutamate, which plays a significant role in cognition, emotionality and pain perception.Dissociatives distort the user’s perception of reality, and cause users to “dissociate,” or feel as if they are watching themselves from outside their own bodies. Examples: DXM, PCP, Ketamine

  • Opioids // drugs which are powerful painkillers that produce a sense of euphoria in users. Derived from the poppy plant, opioids are often prescribed by doctors to patients who are suffering from intense pain. They are extremely habit-forming. Examples: Heroin, Morphine, Vicodin, Hyrdocodone, Percocet

  • Inhalants // Mostly made up of everyday household items, these drugs cause brief feelings of euphoria. As the name suggests, inhalants are always inhaled as gases or fumes. Examples: Aerosol Sprays, Nitrous Oxide, Paint Thinner

  • Cannabis // this drug acts like a hallucinogen, but also produces depressant-like effects. It is a Schedule I drug (i.e. it has a high potential for addiction) but has increasing medicinal uses in the United States.

    * adapted from The Recovery Village

Important Scripture

  • Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. // Genesis 1:29
  • Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise. // Proverbs 20:1
  • Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. // Ephesians 5:18
  • Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. // Titus 2:3
  • Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. // Romans 13:13
  • The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. // Galatians 5:19-21
  • Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. // 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Thoughts from Others

  • Unlike caffeine, marijuana is not generally thought of as an empowering drug that enables you to be a more alert dad, or a more aware mother, or a more competent employee. Rather, for most users, it is a recreational escape, which produces diminished accuracy of observation, memory, and reasoning. And it may have lasting negative effects on the mind’s ability to do what God created it to do. // John Piper, Pastor & Theologian
  • I will not be ashamed of something that has done this much good in my life. Something that has brought me so close to the Lord. Something that I believe He, Himself, revealed to me. Maybe weed could be a good thing – something that God uses to get our attention. It’s certainly how he got mine. // Craig Gross, Pastor
  • Herb is the healing of a nation, alcohol is the destruction. // Bob Marley, Artist
  • The use of drugs inflicts very grave damage on human health and life. Their use, except on strictly therapeutic grounds, is a grave offense. Clandestine production of and trafficking in drugs are scandalous practices. They constitute direct co-operation in evil, since they encourage people to practices gravely contrary to the moral law. // Catechism of the Catholic Church
  • The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world. // Carl Sagan, Astronomer & Public Figure
  • None of us can sustain the sound minds and healthy bodies God desires us to have when we place ourselves under the controlling influence of something other than his Spirit. // Rob Schwarzwalder, Family Research Council
  • Drug abuse is definitely connected to a moral problem. It is a selfish way to find relief from: anxiety, depression, loneliness, insecurity, pain, etc—without considering its impact on our health or on our loved ones. // Rev. Sandra Nikkel, Pastor

Resources

Theology Crawl: “Biblical” Science

Theology Crawl: “Biblical” Science

Welcome to the Crawl

Before you start, make sure someone gives The Spiel to your group.  Also, remember these conversation tips: 1) Be polite, and don’t take offense, 2) Say something if you don’t understand, 3) Ask “why” and speak up if you disagree (It’s not rude, it’s just a good conversation). Now, order a drink and start unpacking the deep mysteries of the universe!

The Big Question: Are the Bible and science Locked in a Cage match?

 The Main Questions

  • How do you define “science”? What is it for, how is done, and what is unique about it?
  • What kind of knowledge does science provide?
  • Is the Bible a legitimate source of knowledge? If not, why? If so, what kind of reliable knowledge does it provide?
  • Read the definition of “epistemology” below. How would you compare the epistemologies of science and theology. Are they the same, distinct, or overlapping (i.e. are their methods, validity, and scope the same)?
  • Is the scientific method the most reliable epistemological method among all forms of human knowledge? If yes, how do you evaluate other forms of knowing? If no, what approach has been more fruitful than science?
  • Are the Bible and science always reconcilable? If yes, what do you do with biblical miracles, such as the resurrection? If no, how do you decide which view takes precedence?
  • How would you describe the relationship between the Bible and science? Antagonistic? Friendly? Something else?

Key Definitions

  • Epistemology // (ih-pis-tuh-mol-uh-jee) the theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope. Epistemology is the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from opinion. // Oxford English Dictionary
  • Scientific method // principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses // Merriam Webster
  • Creationism // a doctrine or theory holding that matter, the various forms of life, and the world were created by God out of nothing and usually in the way described in Genesis // Merriam Webster
  • Scientism // an exaggerated trust in the efficacy of the methods of natural science applied to all areas of investigation (as in philosophy, the social sciences, and the humanities) // Merriam Webster

Important Scripture

  • Great are the works of the LORD; They are studied by all who delight in them. // Psalm 111:2
  • O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge” // 1 Timothy 6:2
  • For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. // Roman’s 1:20
  • “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, Who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? “On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone? // Job 38:4-30
  • Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, And marked off the heavens by the span, And calculated the dust of the earth by the measure, And weighed the mountains in a balance And the hills in a pair of scales? // Isaiah 40:12
  • And I set my mind to seek and explore by wisdom concerning all that has been done under heaven It is a grievous task which God has given to the sons of men to be afflicted with. I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind. // Ecclesiastes 1:13-16

Thoughts from Others

  • What one must not do is to rule out the supernatural as the one impossible explanation. // C.S. Lewis
  • There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, and science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works. // Stephen Hawking
  • More generally, … one of the truly bad effects of religion is that it teaches us that it is a virtue to be satisfied with not understanding. // Richard Dawkins
  • Except for a God who sits down after the universe begins, all other Gods conflict with the assumptions of science. // Alan Lightman
  • I also think we need to maintain distinctions – the doctrine of creation is different from a scientific cosmology, and we should resist the temptation, which sometimes scientists give in to, to try to assimilate the concepts of theology to the concepts of science. // John Polkinghorne

RESOURCES

Theology Crawl: “Biblical” Theology

Theology Crawl: “Biblical” Theology

Welcome to the Crawl

Before you start, make sure someone gives The Spiel to your group.  Also, remember these conversation tips: 1) Be polite, and don’t take offense, 2) Say something if you don’t understand, 3) Ask “why” and speak up if you disagree (It’s not rude, it’s just a good conversation). Now, order a drink and start unpacking the deep mysteries of the universe!

The Big Question: What is the relationship between theology and the Bible?

The Main Questions

  • How would you define “theology”? What is it? Who does it? Why does it matter?
    Look at the types of theology in the section below. Answer the following questions:
    • Which of these types do you typically think of when someone says “theology?”
    • What types do you find interesting, and what types do you find confusing/troubling?
  • Is the Bible the sole source for theology? If yes, how so? If no, what other sources are there?
  • Is the Bible just a source of theology or is it the measuring rod for theology? In other words, does the Bible have a unique relationship to Christian theology compared to other sources of theology? Why or why not?
  • Can a theological idea be “biblical” and not be found in the Bible? For example, the Trinity is a longstanding Christian doctrine, but the idea and concept is not found directly in the text.
  • Does a single “biblical theology” exist? Why or why not?

TYPES OF THEOLOGY

  • Natural Theology // Knowledge about God which is derived primarily from nature. Natural theology usually places a heavy emphasis on reason and philosophy.

  • Biblical Theology // Knowledge about God which is derived primarily from the Bible. The structure will often be arranged around major events or people of Scripture (e.g., Theology of the Prophets, Theology of Paul, etc.)

  • Historical Theology // Knowledge about God which is derived from studying the development of ideas over time. The structure will often be arranged around the major periods of history which brought changes to theology (e.g., Theology of the Early Church, Theology of the Middle Ages, etc.)

  • Systematic Theology // Knowledge about God which attempts to incorporate and combine all of the theological sources above. The structures is often arranged around major topics or categories of ideas which theologians have agreed upon over the centuries (e.g., Christology, Ecclesiology)

  • Dogmatic Theology // Knowledge about God which includes everything above, but with an emphasis on those teachings and ideas which have the authoritative stamp of approval from the church.

  • Practical Theology // Theology which is built upon any of the previous types of theology, but which emphasizes the practical ways of living out these ideas in our own lives today.

    The above taken from Jeremy Myers, The Different Types of Theology

Important Scripture

  • I will study your commandments and reflect on your ways. I will delight in your decrees and not forget your word. // Psalm 119:15-16
  • This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. // Joshua 1:8
  • Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. // Acts 17:11
  • Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. // 1 John 4:1
  • but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; // 1 Peter 3:15

Thoughts from Others

  • What has Jerusalem to do with Athens, the Church with the Academy, the Christian with the heretic?… After Jesus we have no need of speculation, after the Gospel no need of research. // Tertullian
  • The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly. // Søren Kierkegaard
  • Theological formation is the gradual and often painful discovery of God’s incomprehensibility. You can be competent in many things, but you cannot be competent in God. // Henri Nouwen
  • One can be a brilliant theologian without being spiritual, and one can be spiritual without being much of a theologian // Don Stewart
  • We can no more abandon theology than we can abandon God, since theology is involved in some fashion whenever we think or speak about God. Consequently, every person is a theologian. The only question is whether we will be thoughtful, responsible theologians or irresponsible ones. // David W. Congdon and W. Travis McMaken
  • Theology is the grammar of the Christian faith. // Brandon D. Smith

Resources

Theology Crawl: “Biblical” Translations

Theology Crawl: “Biblical” Translations

Welcome to the Crawl

Before you start, make sure someone gives The Spiel to your group.  Also, remember these conversation tips: 1) Be polite, and don’t take offense, 2) Say something if you don’t understand, 3) Ask “why” and speak up if you disagree (It’s not rude, it’s just a good conversation). Now, order a drink and start unpacking the deep mysteries of the universe!

The Big Question: Is it a problem that there is no official translation of the Bible?

 

The Main Questions

 

Answer the following questions without discussing the Bible.

 

  • As a group, define the relationship between the below items as clearly as possible:
    • language and culture
    • language and individual cognition
    • language and the material world
  • Describe the relationship between the meaning of a sentence and the linguistic structure of the sentence. Can you have one without the other? If not, is translation possible? If yes, is meaning without language possible?
  • What is happening in an act of linguistic translation? Can the meaning of a sentence in one language always be expressed in another language? Why or why not?

 

Considering the previous discussion, now turn to the specific issues of the Bible and translation.

 

  • The Scriptures were written within various cultural linguistic communities. Is it possible to extract the complete meaning of these texts into our own cultural linguistic communities? Why or why not?
  • Look at the definitions for the Dynamic Equivalence Approach and the Formal Equivalence Approach. These are the major theoretical approaches to biblical translation. What might be the pitfalls and benefits of each approach?
  • Islam allows for translations of the Koran, but the only authoratitaive text is the one in Arabic. Christians, on the other hand, have been translating the Bible from its inception and do not regard any translation as authoritative. Why is this possible, and what does it say about the relationship of the Bible to the Christian community?
  • Is translation, as an act, theologically significant for the Chrsitian faith? Why or why not?

 

Key Definitions

 

  • Dynamic Equivalence Approach // When a translation attempts to render the text in a phrase-for-phrase or thought-for-thought manner. It is not so much concerned about the grammatical form of the original language as it is the thought or meaning of the original language. The dynamic translation wants to bring across the meaning of the original. It does not necessarily concern itself about the grammatical form in which it was written. // Don Stewart, Blue Letter Bible
  • Formal Equivalence Approach // When a translation attempts a word-for-word translation. The idea behind formal equivalence is to render the text in the same form as the original. This can also mean using the same word order as the original language. With formal equivalence each word of the original language is represented by a word in the target or receptor language. // Don Stewart, Blue Letter Bible

 

Important Scripture

 

  • The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, // Acts 17:30
  • Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue. // 1 Corinthians 14:19
  • Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. // Matthew 28:19-20
  • For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. // 1 Corinthians 2:11

 

Thoughts from Others

 

  • Even the simplest word can never be rendered with its exact equivalent into another language. // Kimon Friar
  • The original language of Christianity is translation. // Lamin Sanneh
  • Christianity spawns variety and diversity because it is invested in translation, which is dependent on interpretation. // Lamin Sanneh
    Cultural differences affect the messengers, but they also affect the gospel message. Each society looks at the world in its own way, and that way is encoded in its language and culture. No language is unbiased, no culture theological neutral. // Paul Hiebert
  • To use the same words is not a sufficient guarantee of understanding; one must use the same words for the same genus of inward experience; ultimately one must have one’s experiences in common. // Friedrich Nietzsche
  • Translation is entirely mysterious. Increasingly, I have felt that the art of writing is itself translating, or more like translating than it is like anything else. What is the other text, the original? I have no answer. I suppose it is the source, the deep sea where ideas swim, and one catches them in nets of words and swings them shining into the boat… where in this metaphor they die and get canned and eaten in sandwiches. // Ursula K. Le Guin

 

Resources

 

 

Theology Crawl: “Biblical” Interpretation

Theology Crawl: “Biblical” Interpretation

Welcome to the Crawl

Before you start, make sure someone gives The Spiel to your group.  Also, remember these conversation tips: 1) Be polite, and don’t take offense, 2) Say something if you don’t understand, 3) Ask “why” and speak up if you disagree (It’s not rude, it’s just a good conversation). Now, order a drink and start unpacking the deep mysteries of the universe!

The Big Question: How do we know if one interpretation of the Bible is better than another?

The Main Questions

  • Read the definitions of exegesis and eisegesis. While distinct theoretically, can these two forms of interpretation be easily distinguished in real life? If yes, how so? If no, how can any interpretation be seen as valid?
  • What genres of literature are present in the Bible? Should genre change how you interpret the text. If yes, give an example. If no, why not?
  • Does human authorial intent matter for interpreting the meaning of a given Biblical passage? Why or why not?
  • Does a person’s spirituality matter for the validity of their interpretation of Scripture (i.e. if someone is more holy, does their interpretation of the text matter more)? Why or why not?
  • What academic tools should interpreters utilize to understand the Bible (e.g. archaeology, literary criticism, etc.)? Are academic methods always important for Scriptural interpretation?
  • Should the historical and contemporary experience of the Church (i.e. tradition) be a factor in biblical interpretation? If yes, can biblical interpretations legitimately change over time? If no, how can any interpretation be regarded as legitimate?
  • Considering the above discussion, what would be the marks of a good interpretation of Scripture? In other words, how would you discern if a interpretation is correct?

Key Definitions

  • exegesis [ ek-si-jee-sis ] // a critical explanation or interpretation of a text or portion of a text, especially of the Bible. // dictionary.com
  • eisegesis [ ahy-si-jee-sis ] // an interpretation, especially of Scripture, that expresses the interpreter’s own ideas, bias, or the like, rather than the meaning of the text. // dictionary.com
  • hermeneutics [ hur-muh-noo-tiks] // 1) the science of interpretation, especially of the Scriptures; 2) the branch of theology that deals with the principles of Biblical exegesis. // dictionary.com

Important Scripture

  • Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. // 2 Peter 1:20
  • As he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. // 2 Peter 3:16
  • So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. // Isaiah 55:11
  • You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. // Matthew 5:38-39
  • All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. // 2 Timothy 3:16
  • Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. // Acts 17:11

Thoughts from Others

  • The broader problem is that a great deal of popular preaching and teaching uses the bible as a pegboard on which to hang a fair bit of Christianized pop psychology or moralizing encouragement, with very little effort to teach the faithful, from the Bible, the massive doctrines of historic confessional Christianity. // D.A. Carson
  • The truth is, it doesn’t matter what a verse means to me, to you, or to anyone else. All that matters is what the verse means! // John MacArthur, Jr.
  • Whoever, then, thinks that he understands the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but puts such an interpretation upon them as does not tend to build up this twofold love of God and our neighbor, does not yet understand them as he ought. // Augustine of Hippo
  • I urge not that we assume that love will provide a reliable foundation for knowledge but that we nonetheless keep the requirements of love of neighbor foremost in our interpretations of Scripture. We should consider, for example, love to be a necessary criterion (a minimum) when defending an interpretation of Scripture even if it cannot be a sufficient criterion that will guarantee ethical interpretation. // Dale B. Martin
  • The fact that our traditional method of extracting doctrine from Scripture does not work well on narrative does not mean that Bible stories do not send clear messages. Instead, it suggests that the way we apply our traditional method of interpretation is inadequate because we are ignoring too much of God’s Word. // Craig Keener
  • Although biblical religion is sexist, it is not reducible to sexism alone! It has also been dealing with human issues, such as estrangement and oppression and the hope for reconciliation and liberation. It has been doing this on male terms, failing to apply the same critique to women. Biblical feminists use these same liberating principles of the biblical tradition. But they make the principles say new things by applying them to sexism. // Rosemary Radford Ruether

Resources

Theology Crawl: “Biblical” Origins

Theology Crawl: “Biblical” Origins

Welcome to the Crawl

Before you start, make sure someone gives The Spiel to your group.  Also, remember these conversation tips: 1) Be polite, and don’t take offense, 2) Say something if you don’t understand, 3) Ask “why” and speak up if you disagree (It’s not rude, it’s just a good conversation). Now, order a drink and start unpacking the deep mysteries of the universe!

The Big Question: WHERE DOES THE BIBLE COME FROM AND DOES IT MATTER?

The Main Questions

  • Discuss as a group how the Bible came into existence. Try to answer the following questions: How/when was it written down? Who wrote it down? Was it edited? Refer to the first bullet point in “Ideas and Definitions” as an aid.
  • Read the definition of the “Historical-Critical Method.” What do you think of this method for approaching the Biblical text? What are its advantages? What are its disadvantages? What theological problems could it cause?
  • Is the “original meaning” of the text actually important for doing Christian theology? If yes, what counts as the original text of the Bible when much of what we have is an edited version of earlier texts? If no, on what basis are you doing Christian theology?”
  • Read the four source hypothesis bullet point in the “Ideas and Definitions” section. Does it bother you that the historical records of Jesus are compiled from different sources and sometimes disagree? If yes, what is particularly troubling to you? If no, how do you deal with theological ideas which depend on their being historical realities (e.g. the resurrection)? 
  • While the Bible is often a valuable historical tool, there are many instances where the archaeological record does not match the Biblical narrative (e.g. the conquest of Israel as described in Joshua is not identifiable in any Israeli dig sites). How would you deal with situations like this on a theological level? Does the historical-critical method help or hinder in dealing with situations like this?
  • The Bible is also a “living document” within the life of the Church. It was first compiled by the early Church and has been continually read and interpreted as a source for communal life. Can/should the Bible’s ecclesial origins be separated from its historical origins?

Key Definitions

  • The Bible is ..
    • Made up of 66 separate books
    • Written by at least 40 separate authors
    • Written over the course of 1,600 years
    • Written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek
  • Historical-critical Method // The primary goal of historical criticism is to discover the text’s primitive or original meaning in its original historical context and its literal sense or sensus literalis historicus. The secondary goal seeks to establish a reconstruction of the historical situation of the author and recipients of the text. // Good ol’ Wikipedia
  • Form criticism // Form criticism breaks the Bible down into sections (pericopes, stories), which are analyzed and categorized by genres (prose or verse, letters, laws, court archives, war hymns, poems of lament etc.). The form critic then theorizes on the pericope’s Sitz im Leben (“setting in life”), the setting in which it was composed and, especially, used. // Good ol’ Wikipedia
  • Source criticism // Source criticism is the search for the original sources which lie behind a given biblical text. // Good ol’ Wikipedia
  • Redaction Criticism // Redaction criticism studies “the collection, arrangement, editing and modification of sources” and is frequently used to reconstruct the community and purposes of the authors of the text. // Good ol’ Wikipedia
  • Four Source Hypothesis // The three synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) are unique in what they share and how they differ. Some passages appear in all three, some two, and some are unique to each Gospel. The four source hypothesis argues Mark was written first and that Matthew and Luke were written using the following sources: Mark, their own unique materials (L & M), and an undiscovered compilation of the sayings of Jesus (Q).

Important Scripture

  • For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. // Matthew 5:18
  • God said to Moses: “Now write down these words, for by these words I’ve made a covenant with you and Israel.” // Exodus 34:27
  • Then the LORD replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. // Habakkuk 2:2
  • You are My witnesses,” declares the LORD, “And My servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me. // Isaiah 43:10
  • As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. // Isaiah 55:10-11

Thoughts from Others

  • The church has traditionally not located the site of inspiration to be in the mind of the human author but in the text of Scripture itself. The shift to concentrating on the intentions of the human author is something that only happened in the modern era, with the rise of historical criticism. // Dale B. Martin, Sex and the Single Savior
  • The application of the historical method to the Bible as a historical text was a path that had to be taken. If we believe that Christ is real history, and not myth, then the testimony concerning him has to be historically accessible as well. In this sense, the historical method has also given us many gifts. It has brought us back closer to the text and its originality, it has shown us more precisely how it grew, and much more besides. The historical-critical method will always remain one dimension of interpretation. // Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI)
  • The historical-critical method is “a truly dictatorial regime in theology.” It is “an uncritical and unjustified denigration of the Biblical text” and a “godless technique that eroded the Word of God itself.” // G. Maier
  • We really just want to make two basic points:
    • We want to show that not all historical-critical view-points lead to heresy (there is no satanic druid cabal slaughtering goats behind closed doors at the Society of Biblical Literature meetings!); you can be orthodox and a historical critic.
    • Since some historical critical perspectives do damage the way Christians historically have understood their faith, evangelicals should be at the forefront of the discussion, helping shape good critical scholarship rather than ceding the field to people who don’t have the same theological concerns. // Christopher M. Hays

Resources

 

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