Scholarly Blather and Theology

Last week I listened to a scholar talk about the Gospel and Paul and what it all “really means.” I find him to be a bit wacky, but wacky gets attention.

His take is that the Church, meaning “you, you idiot,” have been warped by a “post-enlightenment mindset” causing you, you idiot, to miss the point of the Gospel and Paul.

What we need to do to truly understand Paul and the Gospel, is to go back to the first century Jewish mindset when these things were spoken. It is only by doing this that we can truly see what the Gospel means.

The main problem I have is that he too has been influenced by a post-enlightenment mindset, which quite frankly, is the basis for him deconstructing the Gospel and being the sole brain who has figured it out.

Furthermore, why is it that his understanding of the first century Jewish understanding should be my understanding? Was he there? Is he a first century Jew?

Seems to me, “what the Gospel really means from the first century Jewish mindset” are his words that actually mean what the Gospel means according to me. How can I verify his take with a first century Jewish mind? But I suppose the need for evidence is just another dark mark of post-enlightenment thinking. Shame on me.

Furthermore, the first century Jewish mindset rejected Christianity, that’s kind of the main point of Acts. Why is their mindset the best then?

Anyhow, soap boxes are fun. I’m irritated. Irritated soap boxes are more fun. Peace I leave with you.

6 thoughts on “Scholarly Blather and Theology”

  1. This scholar sounds like a mix of N.T. Wright with some redaction criticism.

    I think it’s extremely important that we understand the entire context in which the books of the Bible were written. We can’t fully understand the book of Hebrews, for example, until we know the special emphasis the author placed on the Old Testament; this may require extensive study of the Old Testament, in fact.

    I think it’s a good idea to be aware of the cultural baggage you bring to Scripture when you seek to study it. I’m somewhat bothered by people who seek to “just read Scripture, plain and simple” when it’s not that easy. At the most basic level, it’s been translated; decisions have been made on how to translate certain passages and words that already bend our perception of what may have been originally intended. Furthermore, we bring our cultural prejudices to bear on whatever topic. This is why you have some people in the Christian homosexual camps that, somehow, justify their lifestyles through Scripture. It’s in there, you know!

  2. There is a point to be taken about using the context and the people in determining meaning. But it infuriates me to listen to guys who pretend they are above bias tell me what the “real meaning” is when they are biased to and by listening to them you can even tell what their bias is. It’s not so much an issue of interpretation, but an issue of a pot calling a kettle black. We’re all biased, even smart professor types!

  3. True. I guess it’s just important that we’re all aware of our own biases, like being aware of potholes in the road so that we can avoid them while driving.

  4. Exactly. I know my biases, I know where I”m coming from, what I’m reacting against, what I”m moving toward and I understand how it skews my view at least some of the time to know enough that it must skew it other times! It just bugs me when guys speak from a position of authority, as if they are above the fray, and should be listened to out of hand as being right because it makes so much sense to them. Human Infallibility is a human invention that must die.

  5. If you want to understand the first century Jewish mindset, at least the good one, and not the evil one, then look at the apostle Paul. He called all his scholarly training a heap of “dung”, that only prevented him from knowing Christ.

    The Bible is not about the first century Jewish mindset, it’s about understanding God’s character, versus Satan’s character, so that we can be changed from Satan’s image into God’s image.

    Jesus got it right when he nailed down the first and most important rule of Bible interpretation: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” And the rest that follow make it even more clear. Do you want to see (ie. understand) God? “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

    If we need to understand the Jewish mindset in order to have a pure heart, then I think we are no better than the Catholics, who can only reach Christ if they go through the virgin Mary or some other saint or priest.

  6. Indeed. It also undermines the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit, who by the written word of God, teaches men. If knowing the first century Jewish mindset were necessary, before the Holy Spirit teaches doctrine He must first become a history teacher.

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