Tuesday, 10 March 2009

I'm re reading N T Wright's Jesus and the Victory of God. If you haven't read it then give it a try, it is well worth it.

His section on Burton L Mack (and the Question of Q) pages 35-44 is interesting as it connects with a post on reading the bible I made earlier.

Wright suggests that Mack has allowed his antipathy towards late 20th Century American Christianity colour his reading of the gospel of Mark in a major way. Mack reconstructs a Jesus who resembles a 'Cynic sage, spinning aphorisms designed to subert his hearers social and cultural worlds' (p. 37) Mack achieves this by excluding from his consideration of Jesus any material that is apocalyptic or eschatological. Well if you leave out half the gospel material no wonder you end up with a view of Jesus quite different from that presented in the gospels!

In my earler post - On Bible Reading, Sat 7 March - I was challenging that way of reading the bible which ignores passages or material which the reader doesn't like, or doesn't want to submit to. One of my Professors, the late Bob Carroll, was fond of saying 'Read the text', all of the text. If at the end of an exposition there was surplus text left lying on the table Bob would be hugely critical. (And those who knew Bob would not know him as a conservative Biblical scholar!).

We simply cannot read the parts of the bible we want to read and ignore all the rest and then claim to be scholarly, or historical, or whatever. This is not to exclude the valuable work of textual criticism which highlights for us passages we should rightly be suspicious of, e.g. the endings of Mark's gospel. What the Church has always needed is a commitment from her members to the whole word of God: to read with faith and reverence, to study with all the tools and ability God has given us, to obey in lives given to following this Jesus who is both Christ and Lord.

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