Thursday, June 30, 2016
It's beyond that even!
Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
Ignore the text, then
<sarcasm>Well, then just import it via your theology. Don't let the text get in your way! </sarcasm>
I know, when you state it that baldly, it's obvious, right? But how often do we import assumptions into our exegesis? Right. Continually. That's why we need the inbreaking power of the Holy Spirit, continually knocking down our presuppositions, expanding our horizons, and generally making us uncomfortable with our present interpretations of pet scriptures and pet doctrines. Semper reformandum, as the Reformers said (some say it actually goes back to Augustine [reference, please, before I believe it]). Continually being reformed; I agree, and would go further, continually being made anew, experiencing more completely the new person I am (and you are) in Christ.
Monday, June 27, 2016
To whom do you speak?
I agree whole-heartedly! Addressing God is the beginning of theology : )
Friday, June 24, 2016
Note the pronouns! about God, versus to God. That's huge! You can whine to God—the prophets do it all the time! Or you can whine about God, like the Israelites did in the wilderness with devastating results.
It's all a matter of the heart...
If a terracotta figurine has a head, however schematically rendered, combined with a pair of circular protrusions, however small, or widely or narrowly spaced, and wherever located on a fictive torso, however flat or oddly shaped, we are, apparently, culturally conditioned to see a female in spite of the fact that the form has no real feminine qualities, no curves or marked genitalia.<idle musing>
Yep, and everything we don't understand is a cult object, too... (as Jim Eisenbraun quipped to me)
Thursday, June 23, 2016
Theology or Pseudo-Theology?
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
For the book of Job, God is not just or merciful, yet he is also not unjust or cruel; instead God is—God. In the context of these various biblical positions, this statement is more than mere tautology, it is a critical position all its own. It is a striking statement, because it shows us that speaking of God was no easier in antiquity, with its mythically charged worldview, than it is for modern times.— Job's Journey, page 24
Amen and amen! Maybe the primary reason for including Job in the canon was to let people know that God is bigger than our concepts of him?
Monday, June 20, 2016
About that prologue...
What do these thoughts imply for the theology of the book Job? We gain the impression that the book of Job, read from the perspective of the prologue, embodies all the characteristics of negative theology. All affirmative speech about God is called into question by the prologue. The prologue suspends the logic of the friends’ theology in the dialogues, it suspends the finality of the divine speeches, and it even suspends its own logic to a certain degree. The prologue thus successively lays out all possible solutions to the reason for Job’s suffering: theological speculation as contained in the dialogues, divine revelation as contained in the monologues of God, even metaphysical constructions as presented in the prologue. All these options must be discarded as solutions to the Job problem.
By using a sophisticated system of literary checks and balances between the prologue, the dialogues and the divine speeches, the book of Job does not answer the problem that stands at its center. Instead, by criticizing each of its own answers, it thrusts the problem back at its readers. This process of giving back the problem is a process of theological education that is designed to reject any objectified speech about God, which turns God into an object of reflection or projection. Who or what God may be is outside of human grasp—this is the message of the book of Job.— Job's Journey, page 23 (emphasis original)
Wow! That's a mouthful. I'm still digesting what he's saying here, but the one thing that stands out more than anything else is the danger of making God an object instead of a being. Easy to do in academic settings, isn't it? It's a continual temptation to me, at least.
This is a great little book! I'm loving it. What about you?
Friday, June 17, 2016
Nobody mentions that...
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
That's too harsh!
The following considerations provide explanation for this statement: first of all, the readers are given a unique perspective from which to evaluate the friends’ explanations for Job’s suffering, which appear from chapter three on. The friends move through almost the entire spectrum of possible explanations for the Job problem. Perhaps Job refuses to admit he has sinned, or he has sinned unconsciously. Perhaps he has to suffer because he—like all other human beings—is guilty by nature und must be educated in a certain manner. The friends argue back and forth within these possibilities. Job, however, rebels against all of these explanations, and the readers of the book know that he is right!
Job’s suffering cannot be explained by anything Job has done against God, nor is it the result of the fact that humans cannot be justified in the eyes of God. Even the idea of divine pedagogy is not correct. The reason for Job’s suffering lies solely in a cruel heavenly test, to which God and the satan have subjected Job. The prologue makes this absolutely clear.— Job's Journey, page 16
Sounds harsh, doesn't it? But it does make sense of the evidence...what does it say about the character of God, though? I'm wrestling with that...
Tuesday, June 14, 2016
It's all there, from the beginning
We must see this with utmost clarity: according to the prologue, Job’s suffering has a very simple, not to say a grotesquely simplistic, explanation: Job is subjected to a heavenly test. This is the only reason for his suffering. God performs a cruel experiment on Job; despite the figure of the satan, it is he who is solely responsible for Job’s fate (compare 1:11 with 1:12; 2:3; see also 1:21; 2:10). The text is especially careful to show that each of the satan’s actions affecting Job is legitimized and limited by God. In 2:3, God himself admits that it was not the satan who destroyed Job, but that the satan drove God to act against Job (סות Hiphil [swt]).
There is one modification we must immediately make to this proleptic solution to the problem of Job: neither Job himself nor are his wife or friends aware of this solution. Job only knew his suffering, not the book that carries his name. The readers alone have knowledge of the true reason for the blows that befell Job; and they have been aware of this reason from the very beginning, from chapter one.— Job's Journey, pages 14–15 (emphasis original)
Monday, June 13, 2016
Sure, that's true, but what does it mean?
Friday, June 10, 2016
Not coherent. So, what's new?
Why should we expect them to be coherent? Our lives rarely are, so why should the lives of the ancients be different? Most people's theology is created on an "as needed" basis, just like it was back then. If it works, great.
Mind you, I'm not endorsing that mindset! I agree with Socrates that the unexamined life isn't worth the living; but I also realize I'm in the minority there. And my life isn't always coherent! My life and theology are a work in process.
The divine economy
That's the final excerpt from this book. Next up is Job's Journey.
Thursday, June 09, 2016
It's by grace
Wednesday, June 08, 2016
So that's how it works!
So we run into Eliade's illud tempus here. According to that way of thinking, the goal of ritual is to get back to the sacred time (illud tempus [that time] in Latin) when divine activity was stronger, to transpose the current events into that time so that the power of the divinity can overcome the problems.
I've always found the theory attractive, but have also been a bit skeptical; it seems too simplistic. But, at the same time, there are parts of it that resonate with me. Of course, I always run it through my Christian theology filter...
Self, meet God...
Monday, June 06, 2016
To what end knowledge?
Friday, June 03, 2016
The limits of historical criticism
Wednesday, June 01, 2016
More on ANE birth rituals
The metaphor of combat is sometimes found in birth incantations in which the struggling mother is compared to a warrior on the battlefield. The unborn child, surrounded with confusion, is locked behind the bolts and doors.— The Overturned Boat, page 58
See, giving birth really is a battle! : )
It's never the same text twice...
New blog from SBL Press
I am maintaining a list of abbreviation updates here. Yes, I'm behind in answering a query. I hope to get that taken care of this week...
Further shameless plug: Here's the table of contents for all the copyediting stuff.