Monday, January 01, 2007

What I'm reading now

As you probably gathered by the quote from the afterword, I have finished Bonhoeffer's Ethics. I am currently reading Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament . As I read it, I will be making brief comments; here is the summary of the first 100 or so pages.

The first part, consisting of 2 chapters, deals with comparative studies and examines the historical uses, both those who have attempted to defend the historicity of the text and those who have sought to show it wasn't historical. Walton defines a third alternative, which is his purpose, illuminating the text in order to avoid exegetical missteps.

The second part is a brief summary of the available literature from the ANE, complete with bibliographical references for those who wish to go deeper. The summary fills the purpose of the book fine, but if you are really interested in the wealth of material available, then Sparks, Ancient Texts for the Study of the Hebrew Bible is a better source.

The third part, where I am currently reading, consists of 3 chapters on the religion of the ANE. I found this quote, relating to the function of gods, especially interesting:

“Since their ontology was function oriented, a god who does not function or act fades into virtual nonexistence.” – page 94.

<idle musing>
Hmm, how is that different from now? Most people in the U.S. are functioning atheists (including many christians). They don’t believe that any deity can affect their lives on a day to day basis, so for all intents and purposes, a god doesn’t exist. Their ontology is strictly self-oriented and self-contained. The only time they trot out their god is for patriotic events, or in an emergency, or Sunday, or to impress others with how religious/ethical/moral they are. Far cry from real Christianity, at least as portrayed in the biblical text, where God is a daily reality and prayers are offered and answered.
</idle musing>

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