If you're interested in having your thinking stretched a bit about the historicity of the nation of Israel, these articles may be a good starting point for study. If you're looking for something a bit deeper, you may want to check out Philip R. Davies' newest work, Memories of Ancient Israel: An Introduction to Biblical History - Ancient and Modern. [The book just showed up at my house today, so I'm looking forward to diving into it soon. Perhaps more to come...]
The idea that one can or could at any time separate out by some process
of distillation a pure gospel unadulterated by any cultural accretions
is an illusion. It is, in fact, an abandonment of the gospel, for the
gospel is about the word made flesh. Every statement of the gospel in
words is conditioned by the culture of which those words are a part,
and every style of life that claims to embody the truth of the gospel
is a culturally conditioned style of life. There can never be a
culture-free gospel. Yet the gospel, which is from the beginning to the
end embodied in culturally conditioned forms, calls into question all
cultures, including the ones in which it was originally embodied.
Looks like another book to add to the shelf if you ask me...
This past weekend saw our tribe with a bit more relaxed schedule, and a few more house projects completed. [Jamie smiles.] Here's the recap:
Lavender Lasers [Madi] - The Lasers took on one of the better teams in the U10 division on Saturday. We had seen them play last weekend prior to our game on the same field. Yeah, they were good. Us, um... not so much. So this was going to be an interesting game to say the least. The long and short of it is that we did lose, but only 1-0. The girls played really well, in fact they played better than I have ever seen them play. Madi, who played the first three quarters and was all over the field, won playerof the game honors for her hustle and focus! The Lasers are now 1-8, but getting better every game...
Chix with Kix [Megan] - The Chix had a night game, which was the first time Megan has ever played under the lights. It was a hard fought game between two equally matched teams. It was 0-0 into the third when we gave up the first goal of the game. It looked like to was going to be 1-0 until our best player scored twice in the last five minutes of the game. Chix win. Chix win. 2-1. The Chix are now an awkward 3-4-2. Megan played gola keeper for the first half and then played forward the second half. She's getting closer to scroing her first goal as she had three shots on goal in the second half of game.
Capo Cats Baseball [Josh] - The Cats had a road game this weekend in Pasadena where they took on the Play Hard Titans in a double header. In the first game, the Cats took a 7-0 lead in the second inning, only to see our relief pitching struggle. Like teh old saying goes, you can't defend walks - our pitchers struggled with a bit of control. Combined with some timely Titans hitting, the Cats found themselves in the late innings with a 10-7 lead [which was the final]. The second game was much more focused, as the Cats completed the sweep winning 4-1. Josh was our starting pitcher for the second game and threw very well. In two innings of work, he faced six batters, allowing no hits while striking out two. At the plate he's beginning to break out of a slump, going 1 for 3 with two walks on the day. The Cats improve to 5-4-1.
In a recent post I mentioned the distinction Marcus Borg makes
between naive and conscious literalism. At heart, the difference is as
follows. Naive literalism involves someone (e.g. a Biblical author)
treating something as factually true because he or she has no reason to
believe otherwise. So, for instance, in the case of the ascension, why
wouldn't Luke depict Jesus as heading straight up into the sky?
Presumably, had Luke lived today, he would have either described the
scene differently, or mentioned dilithium crystals.
literalism means taking something written by a naive literalist, while
having information (whether scientific or historical) that was not
available to that ancient author, and deliberately choosing to ignore
the more recent developments in our knowledge and understanding, and
instead treat the naive literalist's description as entirely factual.
Does this help make clear not just the difference between the two, but why the latter is so very problematic?
I think McGrath brings up an important distinction here. It is one thing to understand a text as the author's attempt to describe a certain reality in the language and conceptual understanding of their day, but does this necessitate that we, as the receiver of such texts, cannot bring a more nuanced understanding?
I believe that when we read and interpret ancient texts, we need to approach them with tremendous care, so as not to fall into what McGrath describes as "conscious literalism." Just because the author chose to describe a certain reality as such, does it in fact always mean that "it happened that way?" To what degree do we see texts as "historical?" If we approach the text with an ingrained sense of "conscious literalsim," when the text does not necessarily promote such a reading, do we truly have an accurate understanding of the text?
I think this leads us back to a central question concerning all interpretation - when do we read a texts with a sense of literalism and when do we not?