James McGrath has some great thoughts up on his blog regarding the all-too-common notion that those who reject inerrancy are only uncritically appropriating modern naturalistic/humanistic/liberal/whatever presuppositions. He has said pretty much everything I have only recently begun to try to articulate, so I won’t bother to add anything to it, but will just point you to it and suggest you give it a read.
Tag Archives: James McGrath
In response to an exchange with a dilettante, James McGrath offers a brief PSA regarding gospel genres. You may or may not learn something, but you should be entertained.
James makes a good point about the fringes of scholarship:
Every field has people near its fringe who think they know better than the experts. What distinguishes a scholar is not simply a solid familiarity with relevant evidence, but participation in scholarly conferences and publication, which brings with it the risk of being shown to be wrong, or at least disagreed with by someone as capable of making a scholarly argument as you are.
People who don’t actually engage the scholarly processes tend to just fire off shots at established ideas from a protective barrier of non-participation, which leads to the false impression that their ideas are impregnable. The cartoon James shares is also priceless:
I attended a paper at a conference a while ago that argued that the early Semitic worldview was largely orthopraxic, in contrast to a dominant Greek worldview that emphasized correct thinking, or orthodoxy. It went on to discuss early Judaism and Christianity as originally orthopraxic traditions that, once assimilated into this Greek philosophical worldview (largely through apologists and scholars) shifted toward an orthodoxic soteriology. This is why many in modern Christianity care more about your perspective on Christ’s ontological relationship with God than about how you interact with your neighbors and family.
I noticed this morning that the Targuman has a couple posts up concerning literary criticism of Genesis 1 (including a nod in my direction, for which I’m always grateful). Chris may have been reading over some other recent blog posts, because he reiterates James McGrath’s recent question regarding the origin of the gods (how’s that for source criticism?). His post also bears on the much discussed The Lost World of Genesis One, in which John Walton emphasizes the primarily functional orientation of Genesis’ cosmogony, rather than its material creation. Thanks for the enlightening discussion, Chris.
James McGrath asks an important question on his blog. He wonders what happened to Israel’s theogonies. Specifically, he wants to know why they seemed to have vanished without a trace, rather than being the object of vehement polemics:
The thought struck me as I was thinking about the plurals in Genesis 1-3, where God is speaking but we are never told whom he is addressing. It seems to me surprising that we are never given an account of the creation or of the begetting of intermediary beings, “gods” or “angels”. Given the controversies surrounding the topic, we might have expected at least a polemical account that sought to combat assumptions others had about them and their origins, much as the author of some of the Genesis material polemicizes against the idea that the sun, moon and stars are deities. Why do we instead get nothing?
I made a comment on his blog, but I thought I would pontificate a little more here. I believe we get nothing because there were several layers of theological development following the disappearance of Israelite theogony. In other words, by the time of the later redactions of the texts that now appear in the Hebrew Bible, the idea of an origin of the gods had long been ignored. The only remnants of that theogony survived in select cultic formulae and literary type-scenes. For example, Gen 14:19,22’s use of the participle קנה survives, in my opinion, because it was not associated with Yahweh, and no red flags popped up when the Syro-Palestinian qn ‘rs wšmm was edited to read עשה שמים וארץ. This wasn’t an issue because of theogony, though. I believe it was an issue because of the procreative nuance of the root qny in such formulae. Theogony was not an issue by that time as a result of the collapsing of the tiers of the Israelite pantheon sometime during the ninth or eighth centuries BCE. Thus we’re left with a stack of ideologies scrubbed clean by the last contributors, but with older themes creeping through in places.
That’s just my off-the-cuff opinion, but I’d appreciate your thoughts.