Monday, November 26, 2012

Do we disagree?

Joseph Kelly and I were discussing (at AAR/SBL) one of the questions on his recent comprehensive exams. The question was “Which of the ten commandments relates to the environment” (do I have that right, Joseph?)? His response was, “None of them.” My response was all of them! He looked at me kind of funny, so I explained. It is a question that the ancient Israelites wouldn't have understood. The question requires a Western, post-enlightenment mindset. They would have seen everything in their life as relating to God, hence, all of them.

Joseph smiled, and replied that was the reason he answered none of them...we both believed the same thing, but we said it in opposite ways.

Language! It can be so confusing sometimes without dialogue. If we had stopped at the first statement that we each made, we would have thought that there was a major disagreement. Dialoguing revealed we both were using the same presuppositions, just expressing it in different ways.

How often does that happen in our everyday lives? Just some food for thought before assuming the worst...


Anonymous said...

That was the question, more or less. Have you, by chance, read any Bahktin? I'm noticing Bahktin is increasingly in vogue in biblical studies.

jps said...


Sorry for the delay in responding...I haven't. What would be a good thing to read for starters?