What do we do with all those negatives?

Jewish men of Jerusalem, 1898-1914: from BiblePlaces.com

No, not old photographs, that’s easy – just scan them in, but all the times when something seems missing, and the absence seems to us to make sense… For a book I am helping edit, on Land and Gospel, one a couple of authors want to make bricks from absent straws. That is they notice that Paul (and both are studying the Pauline letters) does not mention land, temple etc… and then want to draw from this absence the conclusion that for him the coming of Christ in some way removes “land” from the very significant place it occupies in OT theologies.

Which is fine and good, and may well be an accurate presentation of Paul’s thinking. What’s missing for me is an argument that diaspora Jewish thinkers of the immediate post-Second Temple period still gave an important place to “land”. You see just saying: “Paul does not talk about land here” makes me want to ask: “Well, what made you think he might?”

Arguing from silence is one of the plagues of biblical studies ;)

One comment on “What do we do with all those negatives?

  1. Judy Redman

    I agree. It would be significant in an attempt at a systematic theology, but I don’t think Paul ever wrote one of those. :-)