Saturday, September 17, 2011
While this phrase is from a Jewish Bible scholar, it frames the tension between the holiness and reliability of the Biblical text and the process of human transmission and translation. There are those Christians who think that it is the job of the Church to argue against every critic of the Biblical text. It would be an endless job. In the end, the infallibility of the text flows not from the sanctity of the process of its transmission or translation -- though these are not incidental -- but the God who breathed its words and whose voice still speaks and acts through them.
Christians have nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed of when it comes to the transmission or translation of the Biblical text -- yet the issue at stake here is more than this. Does God's Word do what it says and keep its promises or it merely an antique, factual record of the past? It seems to me that as much as we rightfully proclaim that God's Word is trustworthy and true, we ought to proclaim even louder still that His Word is efficacious and fulfills its promise to us, delivering to us the very things of which it speaks.
While I tire of the endless media attention every time some small error or change in the text is brought to light through scholarship or archeology, I tire even more of the Christians who allow this to well up fear in their hearts that, just maybe, we might have gotten it all wrong. It is amazing to me how people can sit in Church and Bible study and remain so ignorant or impervious to what is said and taught there. I have had countless people raise up to me the issues of lost books of the Bible, the various Gnostic gospels, the two endings of Mark, the fearful claims of the DaVinci Code, etc. as if all of a sudden their whole foundation of faith lay in ruins for what they read in the newspaper or new magazine or heard on the news. Surely we must hold the media accountable for the way it hypes this old news as if it were new or exaggerates its importance to the Biblical text. But just as surely we must hold our people accountable for being guided by their fears instead of knowing the truth that sets you free and living within its welcome and certain authority.
We are skeptical people living in a skeptical time and it seems there is no limit to the damage one well placed news story or so-called scholarly claim can do... Whose fault is it that we are so easily fooled? A well taught laity and one which pays attention to the teaching of the Church will not fall victim to such scams. The blame goes both ways....